Hey everyone, I've been browsing this site for over a year and started posting responses about 2 months ago. This community has been a great resource for information from people from many different backgrounds. It's nice to see different points of view on subjects as well as hear about personal experiences dealing with cooking, work, education, etc..
So... I guess I should give a bit on my background. My name's Josh, I'm 28, born and raised in New Orleans and have been working in restaurants for roughly 10 years. Dabbled with some other professions, even the military after Katrina cut my college experience short. I started in the F.O.H. and worked my way up (Sometime sideways) that ladder into some really well respected restaurants over 7 years. Eventually I got burnt out trying to maintain in the upper echelon of New Orleans fine dining.
I got fed up with putting on a face for the wealthy, ironing dress clothes every day and trying to keep up the physical appearance and demeanor of a fine dining waiter, someone who wasn't really me (A mid 20's single guy, who regularly barhopped through the French Quarter home every night to a crummy apartment, blowing nearly every dollar he had raked in.) But at one time I worked for a year at a high end restaurant that I held two positions, one being a server the other an expo. I remember how much fun I had hustling, joking, sweating, cursing etc. through that window; finalizing plating and staging ticket lines 30-40 deep, nearly half on fire. Watching and feeling for the cooks I worked with, oven doors were kicked shut, on the fly brunoised garnishes replenished in the blink of an eye, and some of the craziest things were yelled in the rush; I could have died laughing my ass off. However after a bad burn at a different restaurant years later waiting tables, I had had it with the niceties of working the floor. Quit and switched gears to B.O.H. in one moment of actualization. Never looked back.
A couple years later I'm a lot happier as a line cook, only worked 3 places but learned a hell of lot more than how to milk guest check averages up. Yeah the money sucks comparatively, but it's not a gamble anymore. Now my poker face is against my ingredients, my tickets and my former F.O.H. comrades; my knife and skillet my ace king suited. Still waiting for the flop with only two and a half years "technically" a cook, but with 10 years in any part of the restaurant service industry in New Orleans your a pro, or should be.
Anyways, enough about me, this site rocks... period. This is my go to site because there are so many people with decades of personal experiences in professional kitchens, which beats looking something up on Wikipedia or YouTube by a lot. I hope I can contribute some of my experiences as I learn more and experiment at work and home.
One last little thing, our season here ends in late may, and after spending a month last summer in the Pacific Northwest, I am considering moving to either Seattle, Olympia, or Portland. The food scene seems equally as awesome and diverse as here, and the standard of living is way better. So any advice on anything on working and living as a cook in those areas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, catch yall later.