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Job application, continuation of CED's thread

Thu Jan 09, 2014 7:17 pm

After reading through all of CED's thread I found you guys know a lot about the culinary industry. I figure I've got nothing to lose from having a couple more points of view.

First off, I've always wondered is it more impressive to have stayed with a restaurant and moving up the ranks or learning as much as possible by jumping around between multiple restaurants. Once you feel you've learned just about all there is to learn at that particular resto, you move on to another. Preferably of a different style.

I ask this as well, I'm not tired of where I work, but I feel I've learned all there is to learn and I'm ready to move on at the end of highschool before culinary school starts in January 2015.

So is it better to move on to another restaurant that might not be as busy but have a new learning experience?

Once again, I was impressed with how much you guys know and any advice Muy Bueno!

Re: Job application, continuation of CED's thread

Fri Jan 10, 2014 3:09 am

LUNA <> I will be the first to suggest against culinary school... and with aplomb resolution. Spend $15K a year on school or get to work & make $40k a year working two jobs in two different restaurants exposing you to varying method & product.

I'll be honest, I've hired a lot of cooks & I can't stand 99% of culinary grads because 99% just don't have what it takes. They think they're Chefs, and they don't know shit. Under developed knife skills, invariably no practical knowledge, rarely common sense, and most typically an extremely poor understanding of how to operate in the rush. I tell them all the same thing, "Forget everything you learned as food is interpretation, and my interpretation is the only one in my kitchen."

Why waste your time paying people to teach you what, mostly, won't work, knowledge you won't actually use in the trade, or just to gain experience when the experience you gain is useless.?! Save yourself the hassle & expense, and learn up front if you have what it takes in the industry of which, and I digress... why in the hell are you getting into.?! Food service sucks as a profession. SUCKS! You're still in high-school.?! Don't piss your life away in a kitchen. Trust me! You've got your whole life ahead of you; don't muck up your send-off.

Anyhow, off the soap box... "On-the-job training" is a very European style of internship learning. Learn from Masters of their craft, not textbook paper pushers that can cook... and well, but cooking for a living, getting your ass kicked lunch in/lunch out, dinner in/dinner out, brunches & banquets, VIPS & parties, off premise events & closed door buy-outs.. you don't get that from school. You get theory. PRACTICE IS A VERY DIFFERENT REALM.

You have to find the best to become the best. To answer your original question, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being an itinerant Chef. You're A FOOL to work somewhere early in your career that you're not learning at. That's the frigin point... to expand your repertoire. Search out the best restaurants, and ask the Chef to stage for free. Work your ass off with a closed mouth & open eyes & prove to him you deserve his wisdom. Nothing wrong with turn & burn Grilles & Bistros early in your career, either. You have to learn shortcuts to crank out volume. Just don't let the shortcuts become your style; they are necessary at times but only in the shit. You still have to live it, to experience it, and like The Pink Fairies coined well before Nike you have to "Just do it."

Re: Job application, continuation of CED's thread

Fri Jan 10, 2014 4:11 am

Culinary school is basically a scam. They aren't selling you an education, they are selling you a loan which makes the school and the banks money.

If you love food, work yer tail off and go apply at every restaurant with a good reputation. The best value in culinary education is community college. It's cheaper than a so called "CIA or LE Cordon Bleu" But you get time to learn and screw up without spending over 10 grand.

Hopefully you are going to a community college program. It's a lot cheaper than those other schools. Work experience is culinary school. If you are offered a job in a restaurant with a better reputation take it. Also do some travel. Taste what good french cuisine is in France.

America likes to embellish too much on stupid details. They sell Kobe when it's American Wagyu. They say demi glace when it's just a 10 minute pan sauce...Learn to love and respect food by tasting the best stuff out there.

Re: Job application, continuation of CED's thread

Fri Jan 10, 2014 10:39 am

I do not have an accredited degree and have been working in restaurants for about 7 years now. I have stayed with some companies for years, some only a shift or two. My personal experience has proved loyalty means nothing. Both you and your employer benefit from every shift you work. You gain experience, knowledge, and a paycheck. The employer has an opportunity to make a positive impact on the local community which you are a participant. That makes you an asset to the company. I agree with the previous posts. Find the place you want to work at, see what they do, if it's the type of food you want to work with, an environment you can grow your potential. Work hard and prove that you deserve to be there. Ultimately if you're not learning it's time to move on.

Re: Job application, continuation of CED's thread

Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:15 am

Go to college, get a degree and stay away from the food industry unless your a Lunatic........never mind.

Re: Job application, continuation of CED's thread

Fri Jan 10, 2014 10:29 pm

Haha, well I'm not like the others. My love of cooking came from my love of eating, I wanted to know how you can take simple ingredients and make a new product with several techniques. This is also the reason I enjoy carpentry and industrial design. I'm not some muppet that wants to go to culinary school because I watch the food network. I can't stand the food network anymore... but that's another thread.

Unfortunately where I live (Toronto) it truly helps to have a piece of paper saying you went to culinary school. However I also know you gotta put up or shut up. That peice of paper is all handy dandy but if you can't perform, you're not worth the pay.

I've decided that come the end of highschool I'm going to apply to a bunch of local Italian restaurants that practice farm to table, traditional italian food.

Also, my schooling only costs about 4k, you might say that's a lot. But I've put enough money from working into a government saving plan that helps pay for education. Basically I'm paying for my schooling using grants and not 100% out of my pocket.

I'm going to culinary school to just get a piece of paper, I hope to go to either france, italy or japan and learn their cuisine from the masters.

Mel... I'm not sure about where you live or anything of that nature but 40K salary here is well... not so great. But we have higher taxes and higher housing costs within the city. So it might all be relative.

Re: Job application, continuation of CED's thread

Sat Jan 11, 2014 3:12 am

School is not for me, but don't totally dismiss the value of higher education. If you have committed to going to college, get the most that you can out of it. It may be easy for you to acquire that piece of paper but try to resist going through the motions.

Farm to plate is very good practice and it makes me feel good about the food we offer our patrons. We can support our local farms and promote minimal waste production. We use Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Guide to select current best choice, sustainable seafood and freshwater species. We also make pasta from scratch and now I want some... ya had to mention Italian :P

I think it's cool you're into industrial design. Pair that with restaurant design/development and you may be the one writing the college textbooks. :lol:

Good luck on the job hunt! Hope you land the one you want.

Re: Job application, continuation of CED's thread

Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:02 am

LUNA <> I must say I agree with ATANG & JEFF, in that, higher education is paramount. You clearly have a head on your shoulders, and your line of questioning exhibits an analytical mind; I'd hate to see it wasted in a kitchen. Sounds like food is a curiosity; more of an avocation as to occupation. Carpentry & Industrial Design... that sounds like a lucrative passion. A career in Engineering and/or Architecture... has that entered your mind? Irrespective of your ultimate career, has a general higher education degree, like Business Administration entered your mind? Food is simple chit; no need for University. You can learn food afterwards or during real school to support yourself through it. I imagine you'd want to own your own business even if you wanted to cook for a living, and I feel book education is more suited to that focus. I just can't help but think the experience of true higher education will elude you if you waste your government credits on culinary. Culinary school is not higher education; it's half-ass on-the-job training that you pay for... $4k a year or not. But again, to each their own... if your mind's made up, no talking sense into a teenager. ;) Good luck in whatever you do; bigger mistakes have been made, for sure.

Regarding your salary reference, as are you not familiar with my locale(s), nor am I with Toronto. I am based out of South Florida, and kitchen help is fungible and compensated commensurately. After working 24 years in food service, all over the world I will add, I've come to recognize that as pretty universal... maybe Toronto is the anomaly. I used a $40,000 USD benchmark as I reckon working two jobs at an entry level salary 5 days a week - preferably with an overlap so you work 6 to 7 days a week allowing doubles at the better restaurant of the two - would garner you about 75 hours a week. Entry level prep cooks or line cooks are going to earn between $8 - $10 an hour. As your experience grows and you are no longer clueless, salaries rise to $12 an hour. Well experienced cooks, in my area, that have years under their belts can make up to as much as $15-18 an hour... $20 an hour being a VERY VERY VERY rare phenomenon and typically reserved for someone who was a Chef but is just filling in to cook part-time. Regionally, that can rise to mid-20's in mecca areas like NYC, Vegas, Chicago, etc... but to my knowledge, the high-ends of these ranges are just that... HIGH.. and uncommon.

Now, let's look at salaried Chefs as opposed to the cooks above, and mind you... salary equates to you working inordinate amounts of hours w/o fair compensation (e.g., I am salaried, and after averaging out all my time cards for 2013, I calculated a mean of 80.2 hours. 80.2 hour week MEAN! AND that is with about six weeks vacation). Sous Chefs make in the $700-$900 range though up to $1200 is not unheard of, and Executive Chefs are going to make in the $65,000 - $90,000 a year range. Again, the high end of that range being high and only at high-end busy establishments, clubs, hotels. Yes, six-figure incomes are absolutely out there, but they are not commonplace and again only at high grossing businesses. At the top it depends on a lot of factors such as bonus structure.

So back to my rambling, 75 hours @$10 an hour entry equals $750 a week gross. FYI: here in the States, that will net after tax about $600 a week. And let's also be realistic, with seasonal variabilities, you'll probably get between 60 & 75 hours a week. So lets average that out to, let's say, a mode of 70 hours... to be generous. That brings you to $700gross/$560 net. Therefore, my $40,000 reference, per annum, was generous as you would end up @$36,400, but if we up your salary to $12.50, then that total rises to $45,500. Thus, my original off-the-cuff estimate was in fact, the mean... give or take.

Anyhow, food service sucks as a profession. Period. Low pay, long hours, often poor work environments, nights/weekends/holidays gone, drugs run rampant, social interaction is limited to mostly those in your profession - the nightwalkers. Look, I share this from experience. I am 24 years deep & yes, I have made a comfortable place for myself via the Kitchen, but I left home @14 & dropped out of school at the same age. I made due with what was available to me, but you have SO MUCH MORE available. The Kitchen is often a place for sociological rejects, the black-balls of society such as myself, It's often a place for those who are funneled by the family business, It's even a place for the child proteges, like the Rocco Dispiritos of the culinary world, but even with all the different walks of life present in one slice of the pie... it still amounts to a poor profession in the grand scheme of things. I don't mean to offend anyone, but tough chit. Yes, there is a fractional subset of Chefs like the Charlie Trotters of the culinary world, an established attorney IIRC, who find themselves ITK due to supernatural ability paired with exceptional business acumen, but even the best like Thomas Keller - of which Im not calling a reject - ended up ITK as summer work, coincidentally in my city, after having grown up in a family restaurant. Eric Ripert grew up studying his family's food. The earlier referenced Rocco Dispirito, grew up studying his family's food.

I would just hate to see another life wasted...

Think big.

Re: Job application, continuation of CED's thread

Sat Jan 11, 2014 12:13 pm

Alright Mel I have to take you off your rampage xD.

I fully well understand what you're saying, I do have the ability to become an engineer or an architect. However those aren't my passions.

Think of it this way, a musician makes diddly-squat for their whole life unless they make it big, they don't get the rockstar life until they do make it big. But that doesn't stop them, they would do anything to play music as their occupation.

I'm the same way with cooking, I want to learn every chord and every rift. If I could turn it into a career I'd be immensely happy.

In terms of salary there is obviously a discrepancy, here it's not unusual for an executive chef to make 6 figures. But then again we are a large mecca of food. Similar to NYC just less populated. Starting wage is about 45k in a decent setting. Minimum wage here is 10.25, I make 11 plus 1% of food sales.

I'm not after the money, if I want a career swap later it won't be hard, I have a skill set as well as a strong business mind.

I'll be fine, but Im flattered you care :P

Re: Job application, continuation of CED's thread

Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:41 pm

I'm not in the industry so disregard this if you prefer to.

Mel: I admire your assessment of the food industry. I think a lot of people have a rosy picture of the professional kitchen...thanks food network. And it takes a big man to see that their path, works though it does for some, is not an easy, or the best, path. Your frankness, though I never recall you being less than frank :D, is appreciated.

Lunatic: In the States, college degrees are much more flexible than vocational certifications. A college degree and a strong work ethic can still let you build a career in the kitchen or a number of other places. A vocational education only helps build a career in the kitchen. I don't know that I have a philosophy of life, but if I did somewhere in there would be this nugget: when faced with a choice, try to maximize the number of options you leave yourself.

There's my $.02...and at that price it is no bargain.
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