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Help Wanted: Advice for the medium newb in the Biz


turkeybone
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Im a lurker but not often a poster. I'm 27, Ive been out of the CIA one year, but Ive been cooking for about 7 years now (off and on, starting with zero zero experience).

My gf is moving to Baltimore, and so I will be too, with a clean slate pretty much. My last job was.. complicated.. I "ran" the bar & grill satellite of a small inn in upstate NY (think bouchon as compared to TFL... but on a much less exciting level). When I got there, the place was a hole and people feared eating there -- a real Sysco-rama. Anyway, by the time I left, we changed things around for the better, cut food costs, actually made some money, etc. My official title was line cook, I guess, but the kitchen was basically me doing dinner, an equal doing lunch, and two underlings and a dishwasher. We reported directly to the exec of the whole operation, and we split the inventory and ordering and receiving and all that stuff pretty much right down the middle.

Anyway, that backgrounds there because I dont really know where to place myself in the food chain when I talk to future employers -- work is more important than title, but how do I compact that whole above paragraph into something that makes me not sound like a whackjob?

Also, I guess I'm looking for some words of wisdom in general for making that transition from line cook to more.. even though I feel like Ive already done it, in part. This place wasnt white tablecloth, so do I have to bump down in a finer dining setting, and work myself up (not that theres anything wrong with that). Or should I just follow my boss' advice and hand deliver a resume to the 5 best restaurants in the city, and start from there.

Sorry for the rambling.. if anything it shows you how jumbled this all is in my head. :) Luckily I have a small nestegg so I dont need to rush into a less than stellar job, this next move is real important, I think, so I /need/ to do it right.

Rico

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Yes, it does sound like you have a lot going on in your head. I think maybe you should take a moment and outline your thoughts to draw a map of your career. so for example if you want to be a sous chef, think about what types of skills your next employer is going to be looking for and compare it to your experience. write it up with bullet points. so if a skill is the ability to manage all the prep work or something, say how your experience DIRECTLY relates to what your potential employer might be looking for. if you want white table cloth, talk about WHY you think you are qualified. even though your resume may not directly show fine dining experience, there are ways to make your experience seem more high class. maybe you ran that kitchen with style and grace. it's not lying, it's just putting a positive spin on your experience.

Also, since you are thinking about moving up the ladder, be sure to talk positively about your previous experiences. Employers don't want to see their future leaders talk about all the sh** holes they supposedly converted. They want to hear about the positive influence you had. use verbs in your resume, like "managed" and such.

good luck.

Stephanie Crocker

Sugar Bakery + Cafe

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Take your time. While I jumped into a Sous job right out of CIA it was a battle. I have a bachelors degree in business and worked for 10 yrs in the business world and then went to culinary school. So I have a little more leaning to the business aspect. My food trials have all been fine though and met with the high standards of everywhere I have cooked. BUT forget about the top 5 places in whatever city. I think as the guy above said - you need to think about your strengths and where it is you want to go. I moved around some and now sous at a country club which is fine, but not what I thought - after lots of research into the many things that chefs can go into - lots of things can pop. A small place with the title the large place with the title - hey before I was salaried and by the hour - made tons - now I am a Sous - lots of stress and lower pay than I was making so that is another factor...good luck - be careful with moving becasue of your girlfriend - my head bartender bought a house 6 months ago with his girl and she moved out last week!

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i'd ask your exec chef (who i assume will give you a <hopefully positive> recommendation) if they'd mind you putting "sous chef" on your resume as your current title.

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I'll second dvs; if you're doing more than just cooking, it's a good idea to get a title that reflects it for your resume. I've been in that "well, I was a cook but did so much more" situation and to the prospective employer it sounds like so much bullshit after a while. If your boss has any respect for the job you did, he'll let you use the title and him as a reference.

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Thanks for the responses, everyone.

Firstly, we've been dating for 3 1/2 years, and I have a few friends down in Baltimore, so it's not just for her, but I hear that :biggrin: .

Secondly, I worked for this exec for a year before CIA and now, a year after; he valued me highly and said he would recommend me in a heartbeat. That was my worry, basically, that having to explain everything I did would make it sound very BS-ish. I'm sure I could get this across to him, and he'd sign off on letting me use the title.

This last job was stressful only because it was a one-man job for so long. Only in April did a new kid come up, seemingly right on cue. Its pointless to wave the big wang around and say I did xyz covers. But as far as the stressors in moving up, I think I'm ready for that. Besides, I've been on "vacation" painting the parents garage for 2 weeks now, my knife callous is starting to disappear!

Rico

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just take your time in you decision. I have jumped in a couiple of times now and can kick myself and chaulk it up to a learning experience - A little "green" to this world coming from the frontal assault world - chefs that you call boss are 10 times more likely to be threatend by new ideas or throw you under the bus in a heartbeat - so just be careful

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