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Is this normal? Just started my 1st chef job

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hey guys first time post. A couple of weeks ago I started my first internship commis job in a really lovely restaurant but an insanely busy/understaffed one at the same time (the sous tells me it's the busiest place he's ever worked in 15 years of cheffing).
How busy we are isn't a problem, I expected that and actually enjoy the buzz of finishing a hectic service. But they have now given me total control of the starters section with very little help (after a total of 15 days in my life working in a pro kitchen, just finished my first year at culinary school two days ago) and while I'm getting through it so far I feel totally out of my depth. I am also getting in trouble for not making the base for soups and chowder or having specials prepared... Even though I have only just begun there!!I love it but I'm so overwhelmed. Should I just keep trucking on or look for a place where I'll get less responsibility but more training?
post #2 of 12

I say stick it out for a bit.  At the same time try to estimate how much support you are actually getting.

Even with the culinary education, The fast pace kitchen will need more time for you to learn all the nuances         Stick it out for awhile, its good experience.   And do not let people in this environment get to you.  They had to go through the same thing once.

Good Luck.  And Kick @ss

post #3 of 12
I'm kinda funny/different about these kinda things. If I'm the boss ... and I put you in this situation ... I'm thinking that you probably have some decent enough chops. If it's me ... I've got not so much problem if you say (scream even) "WTF??? I need some help here!!!". Instead of ... and way before ... you get so far in the weeds that it jacks the kitchen out of control. Maybe even suggest this before you need to start screaming.
post #4 of 12

All of the above. Keep working hard but ask for help/advice. 

A busy kitchen throws many people off at first and requires some experience to be on top of. You get that experience by suffering through it like you are now. The work can be organized but your mental state is up to you. 

 A couple of tips.  Remain calm. Get there a few minutes early. Bring a small notebook with you to work. Make a production list for yourself every day. Record ideas, needs, mistakes, recipes. Organize your station and keep it that way. School should have shown you the basics about working clean and neat. Now put that in to practice. Anticipate your problems and needs. Move fast but efficiently. Don't panic about it, do something about it. Learn from your mistakes every day and keep improving how you meet your production needs. Note what the more experienced cooks do to get themselves ready for service. Develop good work habits, get rid of bad ones. 

For example, do you make six trips to the walk in to get supplies? Write a shopping list and make one trip. 

As Iceman says, if you see the weeds coming up, ask for help early. 

post #5 of 12

I have worked in a few positions where I opened the kitchen in the morning and didn't stop working for 8 to 10 hrs later. I worked my butt off just trying to figure it out. I work at it everyday and got better and better at it. After a few weeks things were better, I was more organized and worked faster and smarter. The thing Culinary school doesn't teach is how to work like you have three hands, run like you have three legs and think like you have two brains. This is a business that in the early days of your training you will wonder how the heck you got through the night. What your going through now is the reality of what this business is all about. You need to put 110% effort toward accomplishing this internship. Anyone can accomplish something easy it takes character and determination to accomplish this venture. Your working in the real world of working in the kitchen. Your not working in the Oh No world of I got a spot on my Chefs coat. Stick with it, you will be proud of yourself after your internship is over. Welcome to the real world of restaurant work........Chef Bill

post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanaFox View Post

Hey guys first time post. A couple of weeks ago I started my first internship commis job in a really lovely restaurant but an insanely busy/understaffed one at the same time (the sous tells me it's the busiest place he's ever worked in 15 years of cheffing).
How busy we are isn't a problem, I expected that and actually enjoy the buzz of finishing a hectic service. But they have now given me total control of the starters section with very little help (after a total of 15 days in my life working in a pro kitchen, just finished my first year at culinary school two days ago) and while I'm getting through it so far I feel totally out of my depth. I am also getting in trouble for not making the base for soups and chowder or having specials prepared... Even though I have only just begun there!!I love it but I'm so overwhelmed. Should I just keep trucking on or look for a place where I'll get less responsibility but more training?

Welcome to Cheftalk Dana.

 

Firstly, please stop calling yourself a Chef, because you are not.

 

Secondly, what you are going through is perfectly normal.

Get your organization hat on and start getting it right.

Good luck.

post #7 of 12

While I have the least experience out of everyone responding I was in a similar situation when I first started working in a  kitchen in 2013 the day after i graduated HS. 1st job, 1st real kitchen work. And I have no college experience. I can somewhat relate to how youre feeling and what youre going through. My 1st day working I had to solo washing dishes for 300+ people because the other dish boy didnt show up, thats including running to the pot pan sink scrubbing them and making sure all saute pans, sizzle plates and dishes were stocked for each station.(this may be a less amount then what you do or others have done but its no easier) That was my day 1, some probably wouldn't have an issue with that some would. Day 2 I was thrown in to help with the fry and broil/grill station setting up plates and helping do as much as possible, talk about hell, i was no where near ready. I was definitely overwhelmed, and after that it didn't end. But the more you truck through it and work at it the better it gets. Im on 3 years work experience, not even a fraction of what most have but i can tell you it will get easier for you. Keep trucking on, ask for help ask for tips and advice. And if your'e in the weeds and the tickets don't stop ringing keep calm, if possible see if someone can assist. As for your prep duties, work smarter not harder is what my coworker has told me. Learn faster ways to do things, observe what others do and ask them if it would be viable to do with your prep work. Key thing before doing anything. Ask the Head Chef if he is okay with you doing things a certain way. Only 1 Chef in the kitchen. The rest are neck downers. 

post #8 of 12

My first internship was hectic as well, Dana. The mistake commonly made is freaking out. Like ChefWriter said above, organize your station. Bring a pen and notebook. Write down the recipes of each item in your station. Write down prep lists every night after service so that when you come in the morning you already know what needs prep, whats running out, etc.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. The other cooks are not oblivious to your situation. They know you are fresh out of school and have no experience. Just ask for help, ask for tips. Ask them how they normally do things. Try to do it their way and if it works for you, EXCELLENT, If not, improve it. Improve yourself constantly. Work organized, keep your station clean, and focus on the work.

The best part about starting out is learning the ropes and improving them.

 

Much success in the road ahead, Dana.

post #9 of 12

I don´t understand how you are a chef....

You arent managing anything. 

 

This is technically your first serious cooking job, so you should at most consider yourself a cook...

 

Anyway, i don´t see a problem. You are working at a place that has expectations like any other. I havent been in the industry for so long but since my first day of work at any place i have had expectations and responsibilities, maybe even more then most people as time progressed. If you need help with something ask for it. 

But ill be honest, as time progresses you probably shouldnt rely so much on others in the kitchen , sure a kitchen is a team, but every person has there tasks that needs to be completed. You can ask for help and assist/be assisted, but it isn´t something you should depend on.  

I like to think of an expression that goes really well "if you can´t take the heat, get out of the kitchen". So yeah if this is your passion and you have some intention of becoming a chef/professional in this industry, i don´t see why you shouldn´t and wouldnt want to keep trucking on, getting experience, learning and building your reputation in the industry. 

 

Practice does make perfect...as time progresses your skill and speed will develop. 

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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post #10 of 12

You're just another example of how many businesses in our industry, and others, have transitioned into a $ mode instead of a sound business mode. Good business models are becoming obsolete.

  The abuse of the title 'internship' is just another example. The $ mode uses the title as a verb: 'cheap prisoner'.  Sound businesses use it as a noun: 'training' as a beginner, an apprentice, etc.

Our whole country has lost most of it's values, family, business, etc. A majority of this country choose complacency and tend to ignore reality. Let's face it, this country is in the crapper.

  I tell my kids, for now, forget what values I tried to instill in you and focus on. The only focus this country has now is the $. So go out and get it, save it under your mattress, because we are speeding towards a depression. It's hard to believe this country forgets so quickly. I'm convinced that we're going to need a major event happening for a reality check.

  So @DanaFox , don't get so into the forest where you can't see the trees. In the business setting you're in, become bladder like, take it all in, retain what you think might be of some benefit to you in the future. Collect your paychecks and move on. I suggest before you take another position, include in your process of due diligence, the business practice itself.

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #11 of 12

WOW  !!!  Was that a misplaced rant or what?

  I'm usually more disciplined. For the last 12 yrs. I've been taking medication for Severe Narcolepsy and ADD Inattentive. Every once in a while I get a little impulsive when my Meds wear off or wake in the middle of the night. @DanaFox, Sorry about that. As the rest have said, hang in their. There's no better training than, 'on the job'.

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #12 of 12

the more work u do...the more work they give u.

 

until u cant work no more.

 

 

 

this is how modern cost cutting businesses work in todays age

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