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I'm not learning!

3034 Views 20 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  cookinscool
I've been working in foodservice since july at good hotel here in Houston. I originally got the job as a way to gain experience and learn. I hope to have a lot of experience by the time i finish college and go on to CIA or NECI. I wasn't really worried about all, as long as i learned a lot. . It is a great set up for me because i'm very busy with all the other things in my life. I go to work sat. mornings and usually leave around 2 or 3, but i had enough freedom that i could leave most any time i needed too. I am getting paid now...but very very little...i'm not complaining. I began in prep doing the usual cutting the same veggie for hours and so on. It was really helping my knife skills. I also got to work in the hot kitchen which was a lot of fun, i was surprised my chef put me there so soon. Then, he moved me permanently to the bake shop. At first i knew it wasn't what i wanted to be doing but i think it's important to know because i hear that many chefs don't know much more than the basics about baking and i want to know everything about everything in food. I learned quite a bit for a while, but now, i come and do the same thing every weekend. It is also hard to learn from the baker because he is mexican as are most of the others in the foodservice dept. of the hotel. The communication barrier causes problems. The only way for me to work in the hot kitchen now is if i stay from the morning until sat. night when the bake shop is already closed. I don't have time to do this. My problem is, soon i will want to find a job at a restaurant doing prep and all but i feel that i will not be well enough prepared to do this. I feel like I am wasting time currently. But, i like my hours and my freedom and i don't think i could find that anywhere else right now, plus i want to show that i can hold a steady job for a decent amount of time. What do i do? Talk to my chef about it? I don't want to be a complainer and i think i'm too young to be so choosey. Are there other ways that i can make myself learn more? All i do is cut and plate cheese cakes, put dough into the roll maker and roll the dough into hot dog shaped things, roll dough on the big dough flattener thing(thats a lot of fun) etc. If you were to ask me to make any of the doughs for these things, i couldn't do it, especially in the quantites that we use. I basically just do the "mechanical" stuff. And its not that i don't enjoy doing these things, its that i don't feel i'm getting much out of doing them.
Sorry this has been so long, and i hope it made sense

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Ron, it looks like you've considered the many facets of your conundrum and that shows a lot of maturity. You understand the reality of the job but you still want to learn something. That's great!

You have to decide what you favour: hours and freedom as you say, or learning. They tend not to go hand in hand.

I'm not going to give you the usual lecture about you creating your own learning opportunities and such because I've worked in hotel and I know what it's like. In my experience, hotel cooks are less forthcoming when it comes to passing down their knowledge and experience. I won't get into the reasons for this because that's a whole other ball of wax, but there's an expression that restaurants cooks use a lot: you go to a hotel to die. (there are some exceptions I'm sure!!!)

So as to your question about speaking to Chef, I vehemently reply "YES". Be professional about it, tell him/her that you are very interested in all aspects of what you've done so far but you would like a little more guidance if possible to help you learn as much as possible. No chef could be upset at that. It shows that you are interested and that you are investing in your own development.

I agree with the above: get some good books and read whatever you can. It helps you to be a better judge of qualiy. You'll always be a step ahead.

Good luck and keep us posted!
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Greg, I have worked in 2 professional bake shops and I've taken 2 baking modules in school. No one has EVER taught me this rule. It would have made my life so much easier had I known!!! Thanks for sharing that...

Being a member of ChefTalk is a great way to supplement your learning!

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