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Re: New job, could use some advice

Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:57 am

Sorry to hear that.

It must be a real disappointment.

Re: New job, could use some advice

Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:12 pm

HIM <> He doesn't seem that disappointed... almost glad to be back [to a/c].

Re: New job, could use some advice

Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:46 pm

Make no mistake, it's astonishingly disappointing. All I can do is maintain a positive attitude at this point.

And if I might be so bold, Mel, you seem nearly as reproachful as the cooks I humiliated myself in front of. I'll take it as a snapshot of the adverse social environment I might have relegated myself to.

Re: New job, could use some advice

Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:12 pm

CED --> Don't feel bad. Ain't nothin' but a thang, as we say in the south. Shake it off, keep that chin up, and move on.
Last edited by Jeff B on Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: New job, could use some advice

Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:41 pm

CED <> Please, be so bold, and I will be as candid.

Text is an interesting medium as it is not allowed the privilege of body language or voice inflection/intonation. Amid said interpretation, I interpreted your positivity as ambivalent indifference; you interpreted my amusement as reproach. I had found it quite humorous how some one could go from uber excited to take on the challenge of personal growth & change, to totally resigned to their status quo in a matter of one shift. It was upon that premise that I felt, if you didn’t give a shiite, why should I?

On the other hand, your “positive attitude” is enviable since you say this turn of events is “astonishingly disappointing.” It is upon this premise, I clarify there was no previous censure. I was more shocked at your quick withdrawal then anything else. Like Jeff says, "keep your head up cuz it aint nothing but a thang."

Like I told you in my first text, “That line was waiting for you to sink or float.”

I was explaining to you that, in fact, you were subjecting yourself to an adverse social environment… they all are.. and you best be ready. Politically correct & pussified kitchens are an anomaly. Professional kitchens… high-end or low, hole-in-the-wall watering holes or gastropubs, brasseries or fine dining rooms for the most part, are extremely high paced high stress environments filled with under payed ultra competitive type A personalities that are just as comfortable working as fighting or phucking... and any combination thereof. They are not places for the weak in mind, body, or spirit. Intestinal fortitude to persevere through all is what earns respect.

This scenario comes across via text & apparently came across to the line, that you recognized how difficult the task was, and instead of facing it had found comfort in the air conditioned status quo.

I have been doing this for a long time, and have watched acts that could win Emmy’s; that could even surpass the embellishment of NBA foul draws. I have watched people fake faint, fake heart attacks, gag themselves to puke to get out sick… the list goes on & on, but most of them get carted away on an ambulance for workers’ comp liability while the line has to pick up the slack… and do.. in stride. While the “afflicted,” go away to enjoy the a/c.

Turn the coin. I have seen people work through lacerations that required double digit stitches after work, major 2nd degree burns that scarred for them for life, nausea whereas they kept a slim jim close to vomit into during service, loss of their mothers & fathers & spouses… the list goes on, but they all kept fighting for the team… or for their check, but who cares?

I... I have worked through carbon monoxide poisoning (albeit a drooling incoherent mess by the end of it, mind you) whereas I had to be forcibly removed from my oven by Police after I was combative with the Paramedics because I refused to leave the oven so “I didn’t burn the bread.” This was so severe I needed 5 hours in a hyperbaric chamber to decompress the cells. I have worked through large portions of road rash, major contusions, sickness, hang-overs, sprained joints, large lacerations, large burns; I once had to lock myself in dry storage before a shift to talk myself down from shock as I fought through violent & uncontrollable tremors after a motorcycle accident on the way to work. Yes, I made it in & yes, I worked the shift. I have stitched myself with 2# test monofilament & a sewing needle before service to get through it... and have witnesses & the scar to prove it. I, with others, have worked lines that were desert hot… I can think of one hotel where the exhaust was broken for almost week & I hung a thermometer in my station to see how hot it was… 125 degrees in the rush.. for a days. I can think of plenty more inhumane instances, as well.

CED, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, I really didn’t. Like I said, there's no tone in text. If none of this applies to you… well, then it doesn’t matter to you. I’m glad to hear that you’re doing well, and that the stroke was treated before any serious damage was done to your internal organs. Heat stroke is no joke. I’m glad they got you all patched up. If you’re really bent on being ITK, you can still work the cold line, or pastry in the back. You thought about that?

You have to remember, I’m an old-school Chef. We’re for the most part not used to people with feelings, we’re predominately misunderstood by anyone who doesn’t work in food service, and the majority of us are categorized as pricks. We’re really not… they just don’t get us, and we don’t get them.

Re: New job, could use some advice

Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:19 am

I wouldn't dismiss what Mel is telling you. I'm guessing he either double majored with English and Culinary, or he's in the upper echelon of the IQ bracket from what you can expect from a kitchen employee. Either way, he's pretty much spot on. I've been in culinary for going on 22 years now, and it's been quite a ride. I'll try to give you some wisdom over what I have learned over the years, and also in response to what has been said so far:

1. Kitchens are inherently warm, and high volume kitchens, more so. If the kitchen you were in was so hot you were dizzy and vomiting in the middle of February, then that is likely a lack of ventilation(malfunctioning or non-working hoods). Kitchens like this are never fun to work in, particularly over a broiler, and are not the status-quo. If it was YOU who decided it was "just too hot", then culinary may not be the industry for you.

2. Kitchens in the real world have hardly any resemblance to what you are seeing on Food Network. The vast majority of kitchen personnel are highly under payed, and extremely overworked. You really have to have a genuine love for cooking, or you will find yourself being eaten from the inside out by negativity and anger.

3. Education is key. If you want to work for a major corporation to get your feet wet, then education is less important as they will teach you what you need to know. However, if your goal is to become a chef, you will need some schooling and/or some tutelage under a chef that knows what they are doing. Being ServSafe certified is becoming more and more necessary. Know the mother sauces like the back of your hand. Making roux should be second nature. Learn various techniques such as emulsions, garde manger, knife cuts, etc.

4. EVERY kitchen is going to have at least one Type A personality a-hole who thinks they are the King of the Jungle. If you want to earn points with management, ignore them. If you want respect from your peers, challenge them. Physically, or intellectually, whichever is your strong suit.

5. Go into new kitchens with an open mind. Almost every cook you meet has learned at least one thing you have not. Respect them and they will show you how you can improve. Coming into a new kitchen with an "I'm better than you" attitude is a sure way to make alot of enemies.

6. Efficiency is the key to speed. Always be thinking of ways you can do something faster, better than the other guy. When possible, always stock items in the same spot - particularly for high volume items. Muscle memory is a key element to producing food quickly.

7. Do the job better than anyone expected. Finished your prep ahead of time? Help someone else get their's done. Most people will reciprocate when the time comes.

8. Clean! Always clean whenever you can! Clean your knives. Clean your boards. Clean the stainless steel during slow periods.

9. Don't be afraid to work hard. A couple generations ago, the U.S. was highly regarded as one of the hardest working countries in the world. Leaders of Japan remarked that they had, "awakened a sleeping giant" when they attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. Today we are scoffed at for our laziness. Head chefs on cruise ships won't even consider Americans for cook positions today because, "we expect too much pay, and don't work hard". Work hard. Don't be afraid to sweat. People respect that.

10. Challenge yourself every day. The great thing about this industry is you are NEVER finished learning. There is always something new to learn.

11. Develop your palette. Try new foods and flavor combinations. Taste EVERYTHING.

I'm sure I'll think of more after I hit submit, but frankly it's late and I am tired. Hope this helps.

Re: New job, could use some advice

Mon Feb 25, 2013 5:14 am

This thread just got interesting. Are we Down and Out in Paris and London?

Being a line cook doesn't require a type A personality. You can take a few weeks off when your parents die (at least you should). If you get a second degree burn, leave and go to the hospital(Avoid burns). There are a ton of cooks out there that would give their health before their responsibilities, but following their advice only leads you down a path of the same type of self neglect and potential misery.

If you want to be a line cook I suggest starting at the low end as a dishwasher or prep cook. Get day and night shifts. Disregard nobody. Become friends with everybody. Look for love outside of work. Approach every cooking/chefing resource with a positive attitude, and a skeptical mind. Respect food. Respect people. Respect yourself.

Both Melampus and Malbidion have good true words to say, but nothing is absolute.

Re: New job, could use some advice

Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:46 am

i like all that's been said and i agree with all of them. =D

Re: New job, could use some advice

Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:59 am

Um, kitchens are hot. Drink water constantly. In the heat of summer I can easily consume a gallon of water during a shift....

The only thing that needs to be communicated with an expeditor is timing...I hate mindless babble and chater during service.

And one must accept that cuts and burns come with the job. I too have seen some horrendous accidents; from boiling stock in a boot, a pan of meatballs over a head, a foot in a large mixer, entire fingertips, etc...

Re: New job, could use some advice

Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:26 pm

A foot in a large mixer........ Oh please elaborate! :ugeek: :ugeek: :ugeek:
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