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Unsure what to do next

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hi there, hopefully this is the right place for this post. I graduated from my culinary course for baking and pastry back in August. Since then I have been working at the only local bakery that has been willing to hire on somebody with little to no experience. I think they see that I am interested in growing my skillset but there is a bit of an issue. A couple actually.

 

Firstly nobody there is formally educated in the trade. Not a biggy in general as tonnes of people have become successful in this industry by being mentored. Problem is, we do A LOT of stuff wrong not just from my personal view but traditionally its just not even close. My best example of this is the head chef makes these "croissants" that are made with 6 single folds. When I was in school it was single, single, double, done. As far as I know this method is how you make mille feuille. On top of that we don't bother with the "temperature stuff" as they describe it, that being having the dough and butter being chilled so they are just as dense as one another. So our crazy amounts of layers are always ripped up horribly when they go through the sheeter as the butter is much colder and doesn't want to stay in the dough. Lastly on this front we proof them as quick as possible, meaning the butter always melts out and they always deflate and come out heavy and greasy.

 

Second, because I am new nobody listens to me when I add my two cents on any issue. The other day some buttercream broke and the cake decorator asked the head chef what to do, he just through it out. I suggested we just warm it since that was the obvious answer, in the end I was ignored and 10kg (sorry my bad, its 22lbs since we don't use kg for some reason) of buttercream got tossed out when the owner wasn't there.

 

Now obviously things need to change, and I would love to make some changes but since nobody listens to me I feel I need to look elsewhere for employment. I went from a decorator's assistant to being second in command behind the head chef within 4 months so I feel like that says something about me and my passion to become better at the trade. Problem is, I only have 4 months of experience and those 4 months are in this shop that not only doesn't believe in weighing ingredients, the metric system (we are Canadian, we use metric every day yet somehow it doesn't apply at work lol) or even that there is science behind the process of baking. I feel like I am not much further ahead then when I first started there to be honest. Am I better off staying there longer just to get the 1-2 years experience that everyone is looking for or going somewhere else and grinding my way back up the food chain?

post #2 of 5
Do you get paid?



Can you afford not getting paid?






Working is better than not working.
post #3 of 5

IceMan is right. Keep working and look for a job while you have one. But that doesn't mean you have to stay there much longer. 

I will disagree that other bakeries won't hire because of your limited experience. Have you talked to every single one? 

Start looking. Stop in and buy a pastry at one you like and find out when the owner/pastry chef is there. 

You don't have no experience. You have been through a baking and pastry program. As you are now finding out, that makes a difference. You clearly understand things better than your current coworkers. 

So make an opportunity to go see the other bakeshops in town and find out what the possibilities are. Start talking.  You might be pleasantly surprised. 

post #4 of 5

@dents thanks for posting believe it or not your experience is very normal. Let me ask you is the bakery profitable? Have they been in business a long time? If so then I would stick around and see how what they do that makes them profitable. While following proper techniques we learn in school is a good thing sometimes it can cost more and not every place has that option so shortcuts are normal for most places of operation. As far the chef throwing out butter cream that is not a good thing. How long has the chef been there? If not long then I would imagine they won't be there much longer but if it is a long time then possibly the owner is just comfortable with him and makes enough money in spite of him wasting food here and there.

 

One thing I would also point out is regarding improper technique is be aware that not every clientele likes things done the same way they do them in France. Many times a shop will do something completely incorrectly but it becomes a beloved technique to the clientele and makes them special. Obviously the final outcome needs to taste good. Don't focus too much on people listening to you. You be the listener and keep copious notes on how not to run a bakery. 

 

As for staying I would give it more time. Sounds like you have moved up and are making good progress but set a limit/goal. If you stay there another 8 months - year this will give you a solid experience for your CV to go to the next place. Hope that helps.

 

Lastly, If you would be willing we ask all culinary grads/students to post a review of their school to help other students out. You can post a review of your culinary school here:

 

http://www.cheftalk.com/products/category/culinary-schools

Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

@IceMan you definitely make a good point about being paid lol, definitely learned from past experiences that one needs to look while currently employed.

 

@chefwriter, I had previously tried every bakery in the area. The response was always the same, "come back when you have a years experience" now I know some of them gave up on the experience issue because they hired people from my class months later. I realize now that if I was more persistent with them I would likely be working for them right now and there wouldn't be a current issue. Just typing that out I feel like this thread is pretty much done, seems like I just need to get off my duff and check back in with everyone.

 

@Nicko, they are doing pretty well for themselves and definitely turning a profit. We are one of the most expensive if not the most expensive bakeries in the city. Funny thing is, we aren't even in the city though, we are in a small suburb and don't have crazy amounts of foot traffic coming through. Thing is though, there are no other bakeries within 30 minutes drive so everyone in the area comes to us when they eventually need something. Honestly if I had the money, experience, hand speed, etc I would open a shop out here in a heartbeat. As far as the chef goes, I love the guy, but man some of the stuff I have seen... Anyways he has been there for 10-15 years. As far as I have seen though the owner never has any clue as to what he is doing. One of our freezers is literally 1/4 full of things he is hiding from her. Since she is in pretty regularly now everything in there is piling up and he doesn't have a chance to dispose of the evidence without her seeing it. Though in all reality she should know just based off costs from orders that there is a huge amount of loss going on.

 

I agree that not every place will do it traditionally, one of the places I had volunteered at while in school made croissants completely different then how we did it in school and they continue to have to make an absolutely ridiculous amount of them because they sell out within 3 hours of opening daily. People can't get enough of them, unfortunately though that is not what is happening at work. Most customers complain of how dense and flat they are. We had one lady on Christmas Eve tell us we "ruined her holidays with this pathetic excuse" as she wiggled a flat dense croissant in the face of a visibly upset girl working the cash.

 

I like the limit/goal idea and am debating between 6 months total or a year. I don't want to give potential employers the idea that I move around place to place, because really if I could work under somebody who knows that they are doing and learn not only the trade but the business side of it to I could see myself there for years upon years.

 

 

Thanks everyone, so glad I found this site!

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