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Trying to figure out the best path

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I have suddenly realized my passion for cooking after being in the industry for about 4 years, about 2 years as a cook. My knife skills are very good, I am focused on every little detail of my work. I would even consider myself a perfectionist. 

 

 

I am currently a pantry cook for a diner, I am about to be put on their night time service (as pantry) which instead of breakfast diner/lunch which I'm currently doing, it's Italian bistro. 

 

The whole point of this post is me asking for guidance from those much wiser than I am, I want to know what I need to study/do to bring my skills to fine dining level.  Can this be achieved without going to school?  

 

I know this post is lacking a lot of details, I'm pretty tired, I will elaborate as necessary. 

post #2 of 8

You can certainly hone your skills to achieve "fine dining status" without going to school. 

Even though to work in fine dining IMO is a lot more difficult then working in casual or semi-casual restaurants. 

Working in fine dining has a lot to do with the persons personal and professional objective and what they want to achieve out of working in that type of environment. 

It´s also a bit more difficult to work in fine dining probably because in certain areas it´s a more competitive field. 

Nothing that should hold you back if it´s where  you want to work and what you want to do. 

 

As for studying, i would recommend studying classic french techniques, as well as taking a look and reading about modern cuisine. See whats trending now in the industry amongst the best fine dining restaurants out there. 

Practice at home, read books, read cook books, keep update with this part of the industry. 

Hone your skills, practice, practice, pratice. Considering some things you see in fine dining may not be part of your day to day prep routine, it´s always good to looks at advanced techniques, new techniques, things you haven´t seen done or haven´t personally done. 

 

Have you ever frenched lamb? If not try it. 

Have you ever working with sous vide: If not try to

Whatever you don´t know and haven´t tried should be looked into. 

Sure as cooks we always learn a lot on the job sometimes, but it´s always good to have a leg up on these things. 

 

Could you give us some more info on what type of fine dining setting you want to work in? Do you find youself more on the classic or modern cuisine route?

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

Dr.Seuss

Reply

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

Dr.Seuss

Reply
post #3 of 8
What kind of food do you ultimately want to cook? Find people that cook that style. Imitate, emulate,elevate. For me it's Julia Child, Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller,sebastian bras, and others
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Very much appreciate the responses, I will work on this some more :)

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Definitely interested in French and Italian cuisine, I have a lot of background with Mexican cuisine that I'd love to mess around with at some point.  I'm very precise with my hands and have a very high attentiveness to detail.  

 

 

Any recommended books for starting out?  I'm already reading the Flavor Bible, don't make a lot of money so trying to be strategic about what books I buy.

post #6 of 8

In addition to what the others have suggested, I'll offer this. 

 

Much of what happens in a fine dining kitchen happens in every kitchen. What doesn't happen as often are inattention, laziness and sloppy work. 

So most of all, you should learn to care a great deal about very small things. 

     In general, train yourself to work clean and neat at all times; yourself, the immediate area you work in as well as the entire kitchen. Be just as quick to grab the broom or the cleaning tools as you are the knife.  Leave no evidence behind of the work you have done. 

 Be concerned that all items are labeled and dated, properly wrapped and stored carefully. Remember the floor is not a trash can. Clean as you go from the moment you begin your day. 

Whatever station you work, make sure your mise en place is tight. As you learn your station in any kitchen, learn how much or how little of each thing to prepare. Make sure the quality of every single ingredient is up to par. Keep the insides of your refrigerated units and cupboards as clean as the outside.  

Where you are now is as good a place as any to learn to work with grace under fire. When the tickets come rolling in, learn to keep it together under pressure, produce and present food to be proud of, don't slack off or send out an inferior product because you are busy or in the weeds. 

Learn how to work professionally with the rest of the staff when the pressure is fierce and you feel like you are losing it.

Learn to handle the sore back, sore feet, cuts, bruises, burns and scrapes while feeling exhausted, sweaty and grimy. Learn to do this with a smile.  

Show great respect for your coworkers, all of them ( Every single member of the entire restaurant staff). Don't be that guy. Be on top of your own work and quick in helping wherever needed. This includes every area of the entire restaurant. 

Show great respect for the tools you work with. This includes not just your knives but every spoon, spatula, strainer and the stoves and ovens. 

Someone paid good money for those tools for your benefit. Show that you understand  and appreciate that. 

Keep an open mind. Be constantly open to learning new things. As many techniques as you may study, you will be shown what the chef wants you to do before you are allowed to do it. Keep your mouth shut and do as you are told. Each chef may have a different way of doing things. Be sure you understand what that is. When the chef is explaining something, he or she is not concerned that you may already know it. He or she is concerned with how much you are listening to every word he or she says. When you get corrected, nod and say, "Yes, Chef". 

 A fine dining kitchen may have a fancier stove than the one you use now. The food products will be higher quality and more expensive and perhaps more exotic. There will be more advanced food preparation and plating techniques. There will be more kitchen employees and more going on than you may be used to. 

   The important part of adjusting to high end dining is to show how much you care. You show this by your behavior. That does not have to happen in a four star kitchen. It can start right now. 

post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post

In addition to what the others have suggested, I'll offer this. 

Much of what happens in a fine dining kitchen happens in every kitchen. What doesn't happen as often are inattention, laziness and sloppy work. 
So most of all, you should learn to care a great deal about very small things. 
     In general, train yourself to work clean and neat at all times; yourself, the immediate area you work in as well as the entire kitchen. Be just as quick to grab the broom or the cleaning tools as you are the knife.  Leave no evidence behind of the work you have done. 
 Be concerned that all items are labeled and dated, properly wrapped and stored carefully. Remember the floor is not a trash can. Clean as you go from the moment you begin your day. 
Whatever station you work, make sure your mise en place is tight. As you learn your station in any kitchen, learn how much or how little of each thing to prepare. Make sure the quality of every single ingredient is up to par. Keep the insides of your refrigerated units and cupboards as clean as the outside.  
Where you are now is as good a place as any to learn to work with grace under fire. When the tickets come rolling in, learn to keep it together under pressure, produce and present food to be proud of, don't slack off or send out an inferior product because you are busy or in the weeds. 
Learn how to work professionally with the rest of the staff when the pressure is fierce and you feel like you are losing it.
Learn to handle the sore back, sore feet, cuts, bruises, burns and scrapes while feeling exhausted, sweaty and grimy. Learn to do this with a smile.  
Show great respect for your coworkers, all of them ( Every single member of the entire restaurant staff). Don't be that guy. Be on top of your own work and quick in helping wherever needed. This includes every area of the entire restaurant. 
Show great respect for the tools you work with. This includes not just your knives but every spoon, spatula, strainer and the stoves and ovens. 
Someone paid good money for those tools for your benefit. Show that you understand  and appreciate that. 
Keep an open mind. Be constantly open to learning new things. As many techniques as you may study, you will be shown what the chef wants you to do before you are allowed to do it. Keep your mouth shut and do as you are told. Each chef may have a different way of doing things. Be sure you understand what that is. When the chef is explaining something, he or she is not concerned that you may already know it. He or she is concerned with how much you are listening to every word he or she says. When you get corrected, nod and say, "Yes, Chef". 
 A fine dining kitchen may have a fancier stove than the one you use now. The food products will be higher quality and more expensive and perhaps more exotic. There will be more advanced food preparation and plating techniques. There will be more kitchen employees and more going on than you may be used to. 
   The important part of adjusting to high end dining is to show how much you care. You show this by your behavior. That does not have to happen in a four star kitchen. It can start right now. 

Some of the best advice I've ever heard.

As chef writer said, your attitude has to be on point at all times, never take anything personally. Different chefs handle situations differently. Work in the best restaurants in your city or the closest food city you live near. Offer to stage and work for free for a few shifts to show you're committed and not afraid to work. I've done countless stages when I was in Boston and I've learned so much from them.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post
 

In addition to what the others have suggested, I'll offer this. 

 

Much of what happens in a fine dining kitchen happens in every kitchen. What doesn't happen as often are inattention, laziness and sloppy work. 

So most of all, you should learn to care a great deal about very small things. 

     In general, train yourself to work clean and neat at all times; yourself, the immediate area you work in as well as the entire kitchen. Be just as quick to grab the broom or the cleaning tools as you are the knife.  Leave no evidence behind of the work you have done. 

 Be concerned that all items are labeled and dated, properly wrapped and stored carefully. Remember the floor is not a trash can. Clean as you go from the moment you begin your day. 

Whatever station you work, make sure your mise en place is tight. As you learn your station in any kitchen, learn how much or how little of each thing to prepare. Make sure the quality of every single ingredient is up to par. Keep the insides of your refrigerated units and cupboards as clean as the outside.  

Where you are now is as good a place as any to learn to work with grace under fire. When the tickets come rolling in, learn to keep it together under pressure, produce and present food to be proud of, don't slack off or send out an inferior product because you are busy or in the weeds. 

Learn how to work professionally with the rest of the staff when the pressure is fierce and you feel like you are losing it.

Learn to handle the sore back, sore feet, cuts, bruises, burns and scrapes while feeling exhausted, sweaty and grimy. Learn to do this with a smile.  

Show great respect for your coworkers, all of them ( Every single member of the entire restaurant staff). Don't be that guy. Be on top of your own work and quick in helping wherever needed. This includes every area of the entire restaurant. 

Show great respect for the tools you work with. This includes not just your knives but every spoon, spatula, strainer and the stoves and ovens. 

Someone paid good money for those tools for your benefit. Show that you understand  and appreciate that. 

Keep an open mind. Be constantly open to learning new things. As many techniques as you may study, you will be shown what the chef wants you to do before you are allowed to do it. Keep your mouth shut and do as you are told. Each chef may have a different way of doing things. Be sure you understand what that is. When the chef is explaining something, he or she is not concerned that you may already know it. He or she is concerned with how much you are listening to every word he or she says. When you get corrected, nod and say, "Yes, Chef". 

 A fine dining kitchen may have a fancier stove than the one you use now. The food products will be higher quality and more expensive and perhaps more exotic. There will be more advanced food preparation and plating techniques. There will be more kitchen employees and more going on than you may be used to. 

   The important part of adjusting to high end dining is to show how much you care. You show this by your behavior. That does not have to happen in a four star kitchen. It can start right now. 

Wow, I guess I am definitely on the right track because I am following literally 90% of what you said, I just started going at it with as positive of an attitude as possible now I hold my cool well during rushes and learn quick, am constantly trying to find the best possible way of doing something, very obsessed with cleaning, also doing this all quickly. 

 

 

Honestly the only thing that makes me frustrated is when someone else loses their temper and starts performing poorly because of it, or if people are acting incompetent and truly don't care. 

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