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MattyC

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  1. If it's something you really feel you're passionate about, then by all means pursue it. People have offered some good suggestions about getting your foot in the door and starting out - it's all great advise. But I want to be very clear on a few things, because one of the more idiotic things I see are young cooks coming in who make decent home food, think they can become a 'professional chef' in just a few years with minimal work or real skill. If someone or something tells you that this is an easy profession to excel at, they're either an idiot, or work in a shitty hotel. 40-60 hours a week is laughably putting it lightly - don't be surprised if you, at times early on once you make it to some sort of leadership role and hit salary, end of working 70-100 hours. Have you worked triple digit work weeks consistently? If's stressful, exhausting, and just flat out crushing. You will hurt, want sleep, and never see existing friends or family. This year will be the first holiday season I get to see my family in maybe like 8 years - Every other year I've been working or too exhausted and sore from work to travel to see them. Generally speaking, holidays mean nothing to kitchen staff except days you have even more work to do. Do you like having money to spend on things? Too bad, because in most cases you get paid shit. And I don't mean just 'kinda bad', but as in 14/hr is, where I'm from, a 'Good' starting pay. Congrats, if you're lucky enough to work a normal work week at about 40 hours, you'll make an astounding 29k per year. Thankfully though, chefs who scream at you all the time are getting phased out - someone finally let it sink in teaching instead of throwing pans was a little better for a team building environment, but don't think you'll do something right the first time. Or the second. Or the third. Get ready for lots of criticism - things need to be on point, every time, so a little 'oopsy' in the middle of a busy dinner service isn't usually met with a pat on the back and the chef saying 'I'm sure the gentleman waiting 20 minutes already for that steak you burnt the shit out of will understand and will buy us all Ferraris as a token of friendship!'. I'm not saying all of this to be negative, I'm saying it to be truthful and honest about what you want to get in to. Too many young cooks these days get it in their heads they can be what they saw on Top Chef or what have you for minimal work, when the reality is that this is a very, very, tough industry. This is a profession for people who care, and are passionate, and really have to enjoy every aspect of food, or else it's pointless. Especially these days - you need to be knowledgeable, you need to be a problem solver, you need to be a hard and tireless worker, you need to be learning new things every. single. day. - and to be a chef, not just a cook, you need to be a leader and a teacher, hold yourself to higher standards than the day before. Don't expect a payout any time soon, even in the first 10 years, honestly. And even then, it's all based on what you put into it yourself. You need to practice, to learn on your own and in the kitchen. So again, if food and cooking is really something you are truly passionate, by all means go for it. But this is not a profession for the lighthearted, you need to really invest yourself. Try it out in a professional kitchen, and be honest to yourself later on if it's something you can stick with or not, there's no harm in realizing *now* that it isn't your thing.
  2. I started to, lost interest. Seems fine-ish, really just seemed like a weaker answer to something like A Chef's Table or Mind of a Chef or any of that ilk. I agree with what I saw that it was rushed, I think an hour would be have been better - I found myself thinking Emeril didn't do a terrible job either, so maybe more time would have helped. I'll finish watching it when I can't think of anything else to watch as a filler, I don't see it as something I'd hurry to go finish. Not saying it's bad, it just didn't seem to catch me like some of the other high-quality food shows as of late. Maybe it's just me, it seems to have a really high rating?
  3. It's PR and media plain and simple. I also don't think it's white vs whatever, but more about "pedigreed" vs a "nobody" - there are plenty of white chefs who legitimately have more experience cooking a certain type of ethnic food than someone of that ethnicity due to interest. It's how the media pushes it - someone with a big name opening a taco place? Well he's big and famous for a reason because he worked for X and Y, so that means he's so skilled he must know this other stuff too - that's how they spin it, and that's how the moronic masses interpret it. There was a chef in my area who got too big too fast with his first place, opened up a taco place for his second restaurant. Hype was UNREAL. All any website or publication ever talked about. It opens and guess what? Overpriced crap. Reviews were shit, people were pissed - you name it, whatever you could think of happened, happened. Was there anything at ALL in his experience, history, or even ethnicity that showed he would be good at tacos? No. Not even the slightest. But because he was "big" and he was great with PR it got hyped for no reason. It's just a circus, which is too bad. Amazingly talented people have their restaurants closed every day before so-and-so who was on chopped or worked as a line cook for X opened their newest abomination and that's all anyone knows.
  4. To be honest, yes, there was a time I wanted to do it forever, but that changed a long time ago, over the years. Unfortunately, Tri2Cook said...... sure, you *can* literally do it forever, but you'll be stuck in it, never really getting anywhere, but for any sort of end game, I really don't think there is a future in the kitchen for people anymore, if there ever was. I agree that the snowflake idea that pastrygirl mentioned is part of it - a big part of it - but the others who aren't like that, the smarter ones, I think see the end of the road as a low-paying and painful purgatory unless you become big and famous, which hardly happens. But cooks now don't want to put in the work to become big and famous, they just want a few thousand instagram hits and their own show within the first 2 years of cooking. Take the shortcut. Being a big name successful chef chef is rare, and to be honest getting more rare by the day. It's the same famous chefs opening up just more restaurants in new cities. And that coupled with wages not being livable, young cooks being terrible and needlessly arrogant, you have a recipe for a job where you NEED to leave in order to live. It just seems I hear this even more lately. Cooks not even trying to get their 10 years in before finding something else. Year ago old cooks/chefs I worked with were sticking it out. Now, everyone is trying to find some other way to be around food but out of the kitchen. Almost all of my friends around my age or a little older over the past few years have moved into a different career, and shunned the kitchen. And @pastrygirl, I actually took a job as a food sales rep for a company that I myself actually ordered from for years. I get to be around and learn about food a ton still, and have regular hours, expense account, dental insurance, good pay, etc - it's completely foreign to me to work in a field now that actually takes care of me. I was never opposed to evolving into a new career, but I never really understood honestly how much the restaurant industry short changes you or beats you down until moving into something else. I'm around food and talk about food all day, without the downsides I'm used to. I'm actually really happy. Plus, I get to see my 11 wk old son every night, which is huge to me.
  5. Maybe this, and I just notice it more now? I don't know, before it always seemed like you cook until you die, but now, even with people my own age (low to mid 30's) people are leaving. Seems sooner because things are that much worse with this industry? I wonder what the long term effects of this are if people go into this knowing after 10-15 years you're going to leave anyway. I was wondering how many people did the switch to something else because I actually just did so myself, and I keep seeing how things are now, and how things were, even months ago, when I was stressed, overworked, broke, and I'm left wondering in reality why I didn't move to the other side of things sooner. Yes, I love cooking, but I also love being able to afford rent and feed my family. To me it just seems like there is no end game for being a chef anymore, that it's 'cook for a while then find something else when you get burnt out or have a family'. I wonder if this is another reason why nobody can find good help anymore either, because why start a career in something you'll have to leave down the road anyway if you want a family or to not have health issues when older. Kinda nuts thinking of it that way.
  6. I actually read that after someone I know posted it on facebook. There was an article from some paper in Maine not long ago talking to 5 chefs and why they left the kitchen as well. As I said, seems to be more prevalent now than even a few years ago, at least that I'm noticing anyway.
  7. So I've been working in kitchens since I was in high school, which puts me in the industry about 17 years now. It never really paid was well as other people I knew, went to school with, etc, but I was a cook, a chef, and despite all of the BS we know to be in the industry, I could never see myself doing anything else. It was a tough love, but love nonetheless. These days, I keep hearing about more and more people switching to something else, getting out of the kitchen, hanging up their aprons, switching to something new. Staffing issues, obnoxious food shows, too many restaurants, etc, all seem to just be draining the industry even more - I'm curious to those who have been doing this for a while, if you've ever started thinking about this, especially those who have families? Do you think unless you somehow make it *huge*, that the industry has a sooner expiration date, if it does at all? I just feel like I keep seeing more of it with people I know - so-and-so is making aprons, blah blah is working at an oyster farm, etc etc. Things still related to food, but not killing yourself in the kitchen anymore. I'll admit it's been something in the back of my mind for a while now - as much fun as something like my custom soba-kiri is, not feeling like death and working 100 hour weeks without dental just doesn't seem to be a fair trade off So curious if those doing it for a long time think about this kind of thing, or if anyone has done a switch like this themselves.
  8. To be honest, I think if you went up to a parent and made a comment like that, they would hit you. I know I would. It's a small child, who is more or less just getting the grip of coordinated motor functions, it's not a robot. Have a child, go ahead and attempt to "control" it and let me know how that goes. I responded in this thread a long time ago, and I still agree with what I said - a few minutes it's fine, and in most cases is unavoidable, no matter how great of a parent you are - it's just how they communicate. They can't tell you what exactly is bothering them, and they can't let you know what exactly they want - it may take a little bit to get them happy, and even then, sometimes they just want to complain for no reason. At the end of the day, as TicTac said, you may have to put up with a little noise, it's nature. 40+ minutes, as the original article stated? No, of course not, that's beyond reason and shifts to the parents just being bad/lazy/stupid, but to think that a child can be controlled and that you can escape any noise during an outing is nonsense. Even the most well-behaved child will get hungry at some point, unless of course you plan to control them not to eat? Even if your meaning was strictly talking about *extended* spells of screaming or cry, you just simply don't say things like that to a parent. Handle it firmly yet politely.
  9. I would say, as someone else said, around 50$ per recipe is decent to ask, or if there is a lot involved, figure out what their budget is per hour, a flat fee for X amount of work, etc. Work with them, come to an agreement, but settle on something that's fair for you both. Keep in mind, this is so much more than just making a recipe that works. They're paying for a precise intellectual product that they can utilize to create product, to sell the recipe to others in some cases, etc. And before you do anything for them, my advice that I learned the hard way - get or write up a small contract. People and companies, large or small, can easily dick you out of something.
  10. I'm sorry about everything. I think it's easy for some people to forget, or not understand, how an industry like this can really kick you when you're down, or if you already are, be so, so hard to get back to. I get the depression - a long time ago, life decided to really law down a giant shit storm on everything in my life. I lost pretty much everything professionally, personally, financially, and of course at the same time got hit with multiple medical conditions that while not serious in the long term, were extremely painful. I had never really had an easy life as it was, but it just all came down at once - I really almost couldn't handle it. I sought help, I moved to try and re-start things, etc. So while nobody can ever really know what someone else is going through, I do sort of get feeling depressed, and it's something I never wish on anyone - I hope things are starting to look up, even slightly. I don't know if anything that I say will be helpful, but I can say what helped me get back on track. To me - learning rigid technique again, following in the "footsteps" of famous chefs, strict and proper with skills and dishes, immersing yourself back into the almost militant way of cooking that these idols of yours handle things, if the wrong first step. To me, you said right at first what in my opinion should be the starting line: You aren't happy. What helped me was re-discovering what made me want to cook in the first place. I had to enjoy it again, and going through books, practicing my cuts, etc, sure wasn't how I found love with the profession in the first place. To me, just making food, any food, whether it was what I had been trained and taught early on or not, had to be fun. Was I probably going to screw up? Of course I was. Was I going to be as great as I was at doing X as I had been a few years ago? Probably not, but that again, was part of it. I had to discover my love of cooking all over again, and at that stage, being the rigid and organized chef again wasn't what made me happy, it had been what stressed me in the first place. I had also found that what I had been cooking many years wasn't what I generally thought of, naturally drifted to, if left on my own. All my early career I had only done french and Mediterranean - as I just cooked for 'me' more and more, I moved away from that. Years later, my style is completely different - I had it drilled in my head I *had* to cook french when I was younger, because that had just been the *thing* to do, but after being away from kitchens for a bit, and trying to get back into it and figure out why I really wanted to do it, I had found without that drilled into my head, it wasn't what I had wanted all along. Just something to think about. I guess what I'm trying to say is that before the technique, before the worship of other chefs, before the recreating other peoples' work, be yourself, mistakes and all. That's part of cooking, and that's part of how we all learned how to cook professionally. Once I found what made me happy, and once I WAS happy being around food again, THEN came the technique and the re-learning. Again, just my opinion. I can't speak for you, or for anyone else, but I'm glad I took the steps that I did. I love what I do, and I don't think I still would if I hadn't rediscovered what made me love it again before anything else - because at the end of the day, why do any of us do this? It's difficult, stressful, poorly paying in many cases - if there isn't love, then what is there? I would for sure stay with just small, intimate dinners, for now. Be around friends when you make food. Be open to trying new things. Focus on the why of your cooking, rather than the how. I know this is all a little contradictory to the prep lists, and rigidity of what you've been looking for, but sometimes the least likely approach can be the most helpful. It's worth a thought or two
  11. I worked at a small place while it switched over to the kokonas system that Alinea and the like have a few years back - at the end of the day, unless you're a small, very high-end place, I don't really see the point - I noticed some people weren't jazzed about it, because 72 hours (or whatever it was) out is a lot of time, and to hold people to it that far out, especially with larger groups, was enough to annoy some enough to head elsewhere. Was it a big deal? Not really, but I also didn't really see the need of the change to that system. I guess my opinion is sure, go for it? But what are you really gaining from it? Pre-paying does deter *some* people, and are you really *that* worried about people cancelling? Generally speaking, for really nice 'occasion' places, people are dedicated to showing up - I never really had any issues with a lot of no-shows, and unless you're charging hundreds for tasting menus and have a reputation to match, then what benefit are you getting as opposed to just charging to a # when they don't show? And as far as tacking the tip on, I would for sure do that - I mean, as you say, people *should* be getting the same level of service, and if it's a really high end place, with the meals being set and payed up front, why leave the service up to chance? A lot of places include it, and if you're an establishment that is gunning for an all around 'special occasion' restaurant, top shelf service is just part of the package. I'm saying if you want to do it, do it, but if not, fine too - this system was really made for places where people were paying hundreds of dollars and not showing. I think if your guest average is around low 100's, it's fine but not really needed, I doubt you'll see much of a difference.
  12. I mean.... this is sort of a big one - where's the chef, or the person training you? Instant read thermometers are going to be the best best, no matter where you are, but some may not want to spend the money, so many chefs have many different ways of teaching this, and may have their own quirks. *Personally*, without instant reads, I used to train my guys to use cake testers - the 'poke' test is never an accurate test, and is widely known to be pretty much the least accurate. Without a digital thermometer, I've found using a cake tester (the very thin stainless steel wire), to be the quickest with the least amount of room for error. Essentially you insert this tiny piece of metal into the center of a protein, keep it there for a few seconds, take it out and immediately touch it to your lower lip, which is very sensitive, and you can feel how cold, warm, or hot, the center is. Now, this means you generally have experience with temps, and what each temperature feels like, but it's recommended for being fast and relatively accurate. If you aren't super comfortable with temps, then of course you will need someone to teach you, or just end up using a thermometer anyway. My advice is have someone there show you, give you tips, train you, etc - there isn't a shortcut working a burger station, that's experience you need to go through. If, for some reason, there isn't someone training you if this is a new position for you, get a thermometer - shy of that, I don't think there is a concrete set of rules that anyone can give to be honest. If you're on your own, read up on techniques, get an instant read, and keep practicing.
  13. Every time I've had a dish or something in a mag, I just make the damn dish. Having every single thing on the plate, in exact places every time is just phony - I don't do it for service, so why would I have a picture taken of something that someone wouldn't be able to come in and get? Nature is beautiful on it's own, and while I'll wipe the plate, make sure it's clean, etc, I just don't like doctoring it up to be something it's not. I've worked with plenty of people though who have used everything under the sun to make the 'food' look perfect. Just makes me angry. Plus, I like being able to feed the photographer once they're done, if they have time. Just a nice gesture.
  14. I know I'm a little late to this, but I still wanted to chime in. Personally, I wouldn't go that route. To me, just purely looking at it from pros and cons, at this point in time, I don't generally see it as worth it. I do hope someday that changes, but right now, weighing the cost vs what you get out of it....well, nope. On the plus side of schools, you do learn a wider spectrum of things right off the bat. That is a plus early on. But at the same time, you don't learn *enough* of each thing, and as others have said, you don't learn urgency. At all. And even on a dish station, even as a prep cook, you still need to work with that. In terms of hiring for my own place, In most of the cases I found those who hadn't been to school just as knowledgeable, yet quicker, and more reliable. I know it seems silly to say things even like that, but in my experience, it's been true. Restaurant cooking is hard. Very hard. And sadly, most schooling doesn't ready you for the real thing. This whole business is built on people who push themselves, who care 110%. If a chef is successful someday, they aren't so just because they went to school, it all ends up being what they learned over the course of the career, things they had to push themselves to master and learn on their own, or if they went to school, *after* school is long done and gone - so if you're going broke and putting yourself into debt just to reach the same point in your career a few years in as someone who did not go to culinary school, why do it? I'm not saying school is bad - I honestly and truly think education and learning are some of the most important things in life, but *at this point in time*, with how much culinary school costs and what you get out of it, I couldn't honestly say going to culinary school at this point in time is worth it, or will really get you that much further ahead than those who did not.
  15. That's the other thing too - there are a LOT of restaurants opening everywhere. On top of that, restaurants fail, even potentially great ones. Have you or your friend ever *ran* a restaurant? Opened one start to finish? A lot of people can cook, but I can tell you first hand experience that's just scratching the surface - there are so, so many things can even go wrong, even before it's open - maybe not the worst idea to work something out a little less risky than ownership in the beginning? Again, just a suggestion, I don't want to tell people not to open a restaurant, or be a part of one that's opening, but it may be in your best interest to look at other benefits than a straight form of ownership, especially if there aren't a lot of people involved that have been in the business of new restaurants before.
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