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not sure what choice to make...

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I am a new cook, still in culinary school, 21 years old. I knew when I started culinary school that I wasn't exactly sure what area of the food industry I wanted to be in meaning catering, working the line or being a restaurant manager. I love food and I have a for sure passion for it. So I let that passion leed me to a position in back of the house as a prep cook. Recently I got promoted to a pantry cook. Throughout this whole experience I still had this nagging feeling like this is not the area I really want to be in. Another part that I have not been wanting to admit to myself is that maybe I am not cut out for the pressure of the line. I am keeping up with the orders on the outside but on the inside I am so stressed I could burst. I love working under pressure. My past jobs have been pressure filed and have require me to work on a dead line but this is different. I think this is something I have always known about myself but I had to experience the line to really realize it. I have worked in events before and while yes there was pressure, I was happier about it than I am now. Catering has been nagging in the back of my mind. On top of my love of food and a passion for cooking I am also a people person. I love being in a different place all the time and I like having the direct line to the people The only problem is that I feel like a quitter because I am already thinking of leaving when I have started this new position. Should I stay even though I don't feel quit at home, comfortable or the fact that this is what I want to do or should I find something in catering? My ultimate goal is that I would love to cater for weddings and etc events.  

post #2 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikimouse311 View Post

I am a new cook, still in culinary school, 21 years old. I knew when I started culinary school that I wasn't exactly sure what area of the food industry I wanted to be in meaning catering, working the line or being a restaurant manager. I love food and I have a for sure passion for it. So I let that passion leed me to a position in back of the house as a prep cook. Recently I got promoted to a pantry cook. Throughout this whole experience I still had this nagging feeling like this is not the area I really want to be in. Another part that I have not been wanting to admit to myself is that maybe I am not cut out for the pressure of the line. I am keeping up with the orders on the outside but on the inside I am so stressed I could burst. I love working under pressure. My past jobs have been pressure filed and have require me to work on a dead line but this is different. I think this is something I have always known about myself but I had to experience the line to really realize it. I have worked in events before and while yes there was pressure, I was happier about it than I am now. Catering has been nagging in the back of my mind. On top of my love of food and a passion for cooking I am also a people person. I love being in a different place all the time and I like having the direct line to the people The only problem is that I feel like a quitter because I am already thinking of leaving when I have started this new position. Should I stay even though I don't feel quit at home, comfortable or the fact that this is what I want to do or should I find something in catering? My ultimate goal is that I would love to cater for weddings and etc events.  

Catering is boring.

Only kidding, that's my opinion. However, you have to work the line in a decent restaurant(s) for a little to grasp certain skills, then venture out to catering. I would also work under someone before you go solo because it is a different world. You can do really well but you have to know the game.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

I do understand what you are saying. The line is super exciting. I worked last night and the girl I was working with and I crushed about 20 orders in a row and its intense. The restaurant I work in now is upscale casual, prime location and always busy. Its a great place to learn the kitchen. Yea I don't plan on going solo anytime soon cause I just started. I  just thought about applying to a catering company  

post #4 of 14

You might be better off in an outside catering outfit that does banqueting, events etc. Not everybody is cut out for a restaurant kitchen. We all feel like you from time to time, I myself chuck this job in about once every couple of months(in my mind) yet I am still at it at the ripe old age of 50 after 30 years of grafting. It does get easier as you gather experience but it is what it is hard work with not much reward apart from satisfaction you get from it. Not to mention no weekend off, working New Years Eve, Christmas etc There is no shame in admitting it's not for you, because if it isn't it will come back to haunt you latter on. Outside catering enviroment is less stressful (but not stress free), I worked in the sector for a while, some jobs were better than others, but I went back to restaurant kitchens  as I am a lifer and need stress although I complain about it. But all I need is to make really nice batch of sausages, beautiful terrine or similar and I am back in, to put it in simple words I love what I do, nothing else will do.

What I am saying only you know the answer to question you are asking, you should give it a good go before you decide though. Good luck

post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Yea I am going to give it some time because you never and things could change but I think it's something I have to come to terms with. When it comes to looking for a job in catering, I don't even know where to start
post #6 of 14

In my honest opinion, you still need to work in a restaurant kitchen to learn basic things, get experience and at least get some speed. 

 

I kind of view catering as a bit boring. I would do it just for the experience but i know i wouldn´t be able to stand it for such a long time. 

I like kitchens, i worked in kitchens a lot, and i was in working rushes at the age of 18, so i have grown to love the stress and adrenline and killing lunch service, and having various meats om the grill and working various stations and feeling the fire in your face. I don´t know i guess i´m a bit crazy. 

 

I never worked in a pure catering environment before, but i have worked in restaurants that were very event/wedding heavy, and i didn´t enjoy it the same way as working the line. I think it probably has to do with the fact that it didn´t have a rush. That and events cater to the tastes of other people and usually the taste of a collective group. I don´t mind catering to the tastes of others, but i like to be wimsy in the kitchen and to take risks, and i don´t know if catering gives you those same offers. You can be wimsy, but i don´t know how much risk you can take, how much you can play with the clients palates, and how much you can experiement, and really push the envelope.

 

I will say though that catering can have it´s moments where shit hits the fan and something goes wrong and then *BAM* pressure hits.

Once worked a wedding for over a 100 guests, and the menu changed and we the cooks literally found out on the day of the wedding (our manager forget to tell us).

 

I don´t know how much excitement you will get out of being a restaurant manager. Managers don´t have to cook, managers administrate, you work in a restaurant, just not solely in the kitchen, cooking and preparing food. But you did mention you were a people person. Not that working as a cook doesnt require people skills, you just don´t have so much direct contact with your clients working the line. 

 

How much time have you been working this position?

Regardless though i still think you need to remain in the kitchen just to gain experience and develop speed. 

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 #7 of 14

I have to chuckle when I hear people say that catering is boring.

I guess I got to experience catering from a standpoint where it was an extra load added on to an already full docket of restaurant work.

Having to work on a line, plus prepping food to be catered off premise, was just about as nerve racking and frustrating as anything.

I worked in DC at the time and we catered to large corporations. We used refrigerated semi-trucks to transfer food to locations. The counts were in the thousands.

 

Boring?????? not here.

post #8 of 14

I sold my soul for seven years doing off site catering.......It ain't boring. I would recommend that you finish school and learn a bit more past prep and pantry, stick it out for a year then maybe look around for a catering job.

post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

Yea I don't think catering is boring. I helped with catering once because a email friend (who passed) had a catering company need some help. I was crazy! I enjoyed it so much more than they line though. I do like the line, don't get me wrong. After every rush I feel so accomplished, like I just survived something but I had the same thing thing when it came to catering but I was also happier. I think I will have to stick it out for a little while longer just because they longer you stay at a place the better it looks and the experience 

post #10 of 14

WOW.   I don't get this at all. But that's Me I guess ... I roll kinda funny. Catering for Me was NO Pressure. I get/got to do every dish MY way the way I like it. I knew/know when it has to be on and I can take as long as I like. NO freakin' pressure at all. Of course now I've probably never done the size jobs as chefbuba or Chefross. I'm sure the pressure/stress is related. The most I do/have done is 200 people.

post #11 of 14

They each have their own style of weeds as well as adrenaline rushes and I loved both but for different reasons ( and TBH catering still holds a special place in my heart).

I had a taste of most stations in almost every house I worked (preferred bartending...with no more than one barback as I am kinda territorial and preferred to pour alone ( esp if the bar was overlooked when it came to sq footage) ...catering was samesame....put all my effort into whatever task was required of me at any given point in time (preferred pouring for small corporate cocktail parties with 2 servers max as the take home in tips was usually very nice ;-)

 

The pace on a busy (restaurant) nite is like playing a short intense 30 second commercial ... you gotta get all of the components fired and plated quickly without forgetting a word or note cuz when that time is up you have either told the story or not.

The jingle may not change much, but if it does, it may be no more than a couple of notes or a twist in the hook or tweak on a riff just to "see" if your patrons like the difference enuf to add to the piece for this season.

 

Classic off site catering is more a symphony production...starts off slow and soft and continues to build as the measured time (sometimes days or weeks, occasionally months) goes by and it is time to step up the tempo with the kettle drums and cymbals almost drowning out the strings and winds until BAM!

Service is complete... your audience is catching their breath... enjoying desserts and coffee to an  almost sleepy rhythm while behind the curtain everything is clean and loaded up, just waiting for the driver to finish a smoke and then everyone home...all quiet until the next party.

 

Nothing wrong with either form....kinda like being eclectic with your play lists.

 

mimi

post #12 of 14

No, catering is not boring, especially off-site catering as you never know what kind of area you are going to have for your kitchens.  I used to work for a large caterer in Chicago and you'd be surprised at some of the holes major venues stick the caterers in to do events!  I've done large events basically cooking out of stairwells!!!.   My experience in catering though is that it seems to ebb and flow, with a whole lot of hurry up and wait.  There are periods of intense, crazy work, followed by downtime, followed by more intense craziness, followed by downtime, etc.

 

Then there is dealing with crazy brides, and their psychotic mothers, admins hosting their first big event, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, event planners that remind you every 20 minutes how much is being spent on this party to impress so and so and it had better go off without a hitch, or  brides pulling out the Martha Stewart magazines and wanting you to reproduce "that" (okay so I might be dating myself with that one).  Then there is the 80 wait staff hired through a temp agency that you hope all show up, and the photographer that throws a hissy fit because the client only sprung for a bag meal for them instead of a full entrée so they take it out on you by whipping said bagged meal at your head as you are trying to plate up a dinner.

 

No, catering is never boring.

post #13 of 14

I'm not fond of banquets, and outside catering is even worse.  The control freak/perfectionist aspect of my personality has fits at the anarchy of it all.  The speaker is running late?  Oh sure, I'm sure your 200 medium top sirloins will still be medium if we push it back an  hour.:rolleyes:  You want the food an hour and a half sooner than the BEO says?  Sure, I'll just pull it out of my ass for you.  Yes, lots and lots of hurry-up-and-wait.  The interesting thing about a big catering event is that you can plan it down to the T, organize all the jobs with the ruthless efficiency of the Roman army tearing into the Carthaginians, but no matter how much time you have and how well you plan it's still a mad dash right at the finish.  I mean, you can have ice sculptures ready and chocolate covered strawberries dipped in the days before but you still have to actually plate hundreds of plates minutes before they're served.

 

And as Pete says, you're waiting to see how many temps actually show up.  In my hotel days we rounded up the dishers, the bussers, the captains, the housekeepers, the janitors, even family of the hostesses.  Even with that we wound up having some temps that we work release from halfway houses and treatment centers.  It was always interesting getting the "sanitation engineers" on the plating line trying to teach them how to fluff up a salad.

 

No, I'm much more comfortable in the orchestra pit that is my line in the restaurant.  It's probably anarchy to the outside observer but when we're firing on cylinders it's poetry in motion.  A successful banquet is kind of like withstanding a long castle siege while sappers try to dig under the walls and the enemy navy is trying to starve you out. Mostly standing around with the occasion bit of excitement.  The line is more like standing at the Hot Gates at the Battle of Thermopylae while a hundred thousand Persians are storming your position!  Then we will fight in the shade!:lol:

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Haha that made me laugh so hard! Cause I know what you mean. The line can look crazy but your moving fast and keeping up with the tickets then it's all good
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