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OrleansAg

Career changing advice...

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" I won't be paying taxes and won't be working under any Health Department's warranty to my clients."

will you put that on your menu?

Maybe not by those words, but that's part of the concept, nobody would feel cheated about that. When you go to a private dinner at a friend's place do you ask him if his kitchen is according to all the restaurant regulations? This is what it's all about : private dinning.

Sounds pretty much like an illegal restaurant or catering operation than private dining. Otherwise keeping the location a secret until the last minute wouldn't be necessary. I can't help but wonder how the neighbors of where these dinners are taking place every Saturday feel about living next to a "Private Dining" Restaurant. I beg to differ on the "Nobody would feel cheated" part. How about all the legitamit restaurants that are paying taxes, salaries and getting inspected. Ask their opinion on that one.

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I beg to differ on the "Nobody would feel cheated" part.  How about all the legitamit restaurants that are paying taxes, salaries and getting inspected.  Ask their opinion on that one.

That's exactly from where I've started my initial post... "I guess many of you who are in the industry won't agree (and even get some anger) about the path I'm following..."


Filipe A S

pastry student, food lover & food blogger

there's allways room for some more weight

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How about i knock up a quick design for a new building. get some builder to build it without regard for the rules of your game.How would you feel?

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How about i knock up a quick design for a new building. get some builder to build it without regard for the rules of your game.How would you feel?

I won't have any particular feelings on that as I don't fiscalize other people's work, I keep focused on my own work and that's pretty enough worries. The people who will be going to live there might have some, but as long as the building contractor makes it public how the building was projected/built I won't see much of a problem, it's their choice to live there/ buy there an appartment.

And the fact that was you who "knocked up the quick design" that doesn't necessarly mean it's not a good design neither that it won't observe the rules.

One thing is that the rules are observed, other very different thing is having a certificate from the respective authorities stating they are being respected.


Edited by filipe (log)

Filipe A S

pastry student, food lover & food blogger

there's allways room for some more weight

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Hey Guys, I am new to this community and want to introduce myself. Sorry, this post is a little long but I think it might give a sense of who I am.

I don't tell this story often but when I was 4 yrs old I made cupcakes with my mom. It was the first time I had ever cooked. My older sister had moved in with us. She is actually a half sister but I love her more than anything. I can attribute a lot of my life lessons to her. Well she had moved halfway around the globe to live with us. I think she felt lost and alone like she didn't belong. Her father had started a new family and had a new kid. Regardless I never saw her truly happy, most likely because of what they did to her hair as a kid (inside joke). But when those cupcakes came out of the oven and I put the frosting on it and the toppings, it was perfect. So perfect I didn't even want to eat it. I knew what to do, I ran to find my sister and I gave her the cupcake, it was the first time I remember seeing her truly smile and her eyes lit up. It was then I knew that you could touch peoples hearts with food. Create true emotions, something as simple as beef and eggs can remind my mom of childhood and make her hungry, the same dish can make my lil sisters stomach turn in disgust (save this story for another post). I'm not sure if my sister even remembers this story as it is probably an insignificant part of her life but for me it was when I knew I wanted to be a chef, everyone has dreams when they are a child but not everyone fulfills these dreams.

Fast forward to the present. I have quite a bit of experience with food and it is a passion of mine. My career however is cellular. For the last 12 years I have been selling phones and running cellular companies. It has been a great tenure and I have met a few great friends which I will keep forever. I also met a few crooks along the way (98% of the people in the business). I have had my back stabbed, I have created greatness. I accomplished many things I thought were impossible and learned somethings I thought possible to be unattainable. I am lucky, I have achieved more success in a short span than most do in a lifetime. I have also lost more than most do in a lifetime. Recently, what I have lost is the drive to attain the simple goal I have had since the beginning, to be the best at what I do. I can't explain why that is due to lawsuits and stuff my attorney has told me not to discuss. However there is a passion I still have, one that has carried from childhood and is evident in the amount of food network, hells kitchen, and top chef I watch. The endless hours spent toiling in the kitchen, and even more spent entertaining.

I have decided to not do Culinary school as I hear a lot of mixed reviews, I am a quick learner and I can learn on my own from just reading books what I would learn in class. I am more interested in feild experience. I guess my question is how do I go about starting this career? Specially in a desolate unemployable state like Michigan. I dont know where to start, who to ask for help and I need a job. I am too proud to go on unemployement and funds are starting to run low. I have been ofered jobs but none of them are in this industry which is where I want to go. I would work for free if it was a good place that could teach a lot. I think working 100 hours a week in my previous career has made me numb to working long hours and I could get a part time job to pay bills and float me buy till I find a real job. Any help in what to do, books to read, anything at all would be greatly appreciated

Thanks,

Omar A

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I wouldn't dismiss school out of hand; there is a lot you can learn there and you will get hands-on experience using commercial equipment. (and lifting 50 pound sacks of flour or sugar, and unloading 95 pound cubes of shortening) While you may still start your first job out of school as the lowest level cook in the kitchen, at or just above minimum wage, you'll rise faster because you'll have knife skills and work at a semblance of the expected speed.

Just remember that this industry is generally very low in pay and long in hours. And, when you finally get that $50,000/yr job, you'll be on salary working long days and 6-7 day weeks.

If you are really set on a path of working your way up, you'll need to start by getting a food service worker's card from your local health department. (it's called different things in different states) You aren't allowed to work anyplace without one. -And the information is the bare-bones basics of sanitation, which you will be expected to know.

Understand that you will be expected to show up for work without makeup, jewelry or nailpolish. Be prepared to tie your hair back and wear an ugly hat or hairnet. No arguing about this, it's basic sanitation. If you had gone to culinary school, you would have had this drilled into you with daily uniform inspections. (yes, the tongue ring and eyebrow piercing must go)

You will need sturdy, non-skid, closed-toe shoes, no exceptions. (payless sells two types of women's non-skid work shoes) Every person I have seen whine about the shoes not fitting and how they were going to wear something else has wound up falling and breaking bones within a few days.

You will also need to move faster than you can probably imagine at this point. Most places have production requirements establishing the minimums of what you are expected to turn out in an hour. For example: one supermarket's minimum standard is 65 cupcakes decorated per hour, 12 cakes per hour, and 30 decorated cream pies. Even in a savory kitchen, you'll be expected to churn out julienned carrots and large dice potatoes fast, really, really fast. Most home cooks simply haven't worked long enough at particular tasks to get up to commercial kitchen speeds. One reason why people will be hesitant to hire you will be because they know civilians are slow. In culinary school, you are drilled for speed over and over until you can do things in 5 minutes that originally took you an hour to accomplish.

As for work in Michigan, well, that's its own set of issues, sorry I have no clue. I'd look around for a caterer and see if they will take you on. It's always tough for career switchers in this industry because everything is physically demanding -most people are ready to get out by the time they are 40 because their knees can't take it anymore. (Bourdain talks about this, get those shoes! replace those shoes regularly!) And, right now, the economy is really bad the older you are -the unemployment rate rises sharply for those over 30, way over the national average.

The other thing to remember is that some employers will be great instructors, others will not. If you read back in the archives here a bit, you'll find examples of employers with all sorts of bad practices, so, be prepared to take it all with a grain of salt.

Good luck!

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I dont know what gave you the impression that I was a female. I am in fact a male, and Im not that old...I started in the cellular industry as a teenager and am only 28. My parents owned a restaurant which i worked in and am familliar with the commercial kitchen. Unfortunately what I did was turn out burgers in high volume which is way different from what I want to do now. You are right about my knife skills, they are no where near par for a line. However, most students who come out of culinary schools from what I have been told can not keep up with the line. What they learn, the french cullinary techniques, are sound and great...but when trying to turn a restaurant 3 times in one night, 99% of what they learned is not practical. These are not my words as I wouldnt know, but those of multiple chefs that I have spoken to in the last few weeks while searching for a job. Of course there are some things you will not learn if you dont goto class'. I am confident in my abilit to run a business as I have done it successfully for years. I just need the experience and no how of how to work on a line, how a restaurant runs(successfully), and to work with other people that have the passion for food that I share.

As far as it not being practical...I used to be 315lbs earlier this year. Thanks to herbalife and my classes on nutrition, I have lost over 60lbs, with 60 more to go. However, I can run a half marathon and keep up with people half my age no problem. I hate being told I cant do anything, specially because of age or physical attributes, this is a limiting beleif. Im a big guy who can carry large bags of flour all day long.

As for income, I know I am not going to make anywhere near what I was making in my former career as it was well over 6 figures. Im pretty sure I will make something like 30k as a chef. But to me this is an even trade. I will be happy with my days work, and I dont need money to be successful. I just want to be comfortable and satisfied with the work I do that day.

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30k a year stsrting as a chef? Try...20k per year starting out. If you are lucky. I also just wouldn't dismiss school right off the bat. There are lots of options...mayb e check out an ACF 3 year culinary apprenticeship program, or a school that is hands on (like NECI). Also, try to get a job in a kitchen before you commit to anything. Just knock on doors of the best restaurants in town and work for free. Odds are you'll know pretty quickly if you want to continue as a career.

Seriously, 30k for a line cook in Mich is a lot. If you net 400 a week that would be good.

Good luck!

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I think the answer where to start without any skills on the resume is, look for bottom of the chain jobs to get your feet into a kitchen. When you apply lets say as a dishwasher, say that you eventually want to be cooking. If thats in the cards after being on time etc etc for a few month hope that they let you go for it when opportunity opens up.

Or work for free but I am guessing that is not in the cards.

I think this "entry" phase is what people who do culinary school may get around. For finding jobs, walk by restaurants you like and ask, these entry level jobs are usually through help wanted signs or craigslist adds or whatnot.


Edited by jk1002 (log)

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Thanks for all the input, i called the local authorities and was told to get a food handlers certification through a company. I have the website written down but it was confusing as they talk about ansi certifications being what state mandate is yet they arent ansi?

Anywho, I have called around and looked for positions, even for free in town. No one is really looking, most of the managers i spoke with didnt even know what a stint was. So I am at a cross roads, I think i am going to keep looking for some sort of stint opportunity and get a part time job. As far as if this is what I want to do...there is no doubt in my mind that this is the career I want to pursue, I find it funny that people are saying you should think twice about choosing this as a career. Are you really satisfied with your job? No matter what I make as a chef, i will be content, that much I do know

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People straight out of culinary school may not be able to keep with the line right away, but, they are, in general, far more prepared for it than the average home cook.

I've had issues with jewelry, hair, and nails from both genders.

If you live in Wayne county, they offer free classes to prepare for their exam:

http://www.waynecounty.com/mygovt/hhs/publichealth/ph_foodmgt.aspx

If not, it's a county by county thing, so check with your county health department.

And, yeah, for most of us just trying to get $10 an hour is a major struggle. This isn't a highly paid industry.

There are a lot of free online resources nowadays. There are people demonstrating pretty much everything on youtube. This site has some great online classes, too. I'd start practicing every day. Good students go through 50-100lbs of potatoes a week practicing knife cuts at home.

As for actually getting a job, you will need the food handler card, no one can let you work, even for free without one. The health department will close them down. Other than that, just keep trying, and, take whatever you can get even if it means dishwashing. In a lot of kitchens, honestly, the dishwashers get paid and treated very well because everyone wants to keep them happy. From there, you are in a position to try cooking when someone calls in sick, etc.

It's been a tough couple of years, and right now, only the really low end and extremely high end are doing very well. So, a simple taqueria may be the place to start.

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i practice daily already, but not my knife skills. I have a problem guaging temps on meat, so i go through a lot of meat and fish. But I will buy a bag of potatos and start practicing knife skills this week. That and I have been getting into a lot of pastry stuff these last few months. So Im usually doing something with chocolate cause its so fun. I cant eat any of it, but my freinds love it.

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Knife skills are a big thing. A lot of jobs, something as simple as how you cut chives or potatoes can cause you to sink or swim with landing the job. Getting potatoes is a better idea than meat or fish, since even getting a job, regardless of skill, a good amount start you off on the garde mange station anyway (salads, desserts, etc), so you won't have much contact with proteins right off the bat.

As for the school point..... don't write it off. I think it's one of those things where honestly, you should have actual experience BEFORE you hit culinary school. You are right, virtually ever culinary student i have worked with, who is fresh out of school, can't keep up for the life of them. It's a totally different beast actually working in the kitchen. But even then, like Lisa said, they are far better suited to start off on a line then a home cook. Home cooking and how a professional kitchen does things are like night and and day - I would take someone in my kitchen with at least decent knife skills over an ambitious home cook. Its just a disaster waiting to happen unless they are VERY smart about things, practicing with their knife skills, different cuts, etc. It does sound like you have a different approach, and know what to expect, so as long as you really buckle down and practice, you'll be in a good spot. Just don't completely block out the school route.

I also agree that starting out, down in the 20k range is more likely than 30k, at least early on. Horrible pay is part of the job, but as long as you are happy, then that doesn't really matter. Again, as long as you know what you are getting in to.

I really wish you the best of luck with all of this. As long as you practice and have a good handle on things, you stand a pretty good shot, even if that means landing something way down on the bottom. Just be prepared to work lots of long hours for little money, having to move faster than you ever have under more pressure than you ever have - if you can handle all of that, it's probably one of the most rewarding fields to be in.


Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality.

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Thanks, much appreciated...

I went out and bought 5 bags of potatoes, 1 bag of onions, and 2 bundles of carrotts to practice with. I will practice all my cuts. I do have one question, any recommendations on a good starter knife set? My knives are very old and the wooden handles are cracking and coming apart.

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All you really need is a chef's knife, boning knife, paring knife, and bread knife. I stick with Wusthof, but cook's illustrated recommends Forschner knives as best buys (models 40520, 40513, 40501, and 40547 respectively). The Forschner knives will cost only $75 for all 4


Edited by therippa (log)

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I am gonna buy a new set of knives next week after i do some research, i am takin the knife maintenance and sharpening class on egullet right now...After that I think i will be able to know what I am looking at and be able to make an informed decision. Wish there was a class on knife skills, how to hold the knife etc etc, i have seen it on youtube but a lot of chefs differ their grip or cutting technique

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If you live in/around a major city then there probably is a class. I found one on craigslist a couple years ago that was being held at a Viking Kitchen store.

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You may want to check out the eGCI Basic Knife Skills Course. It may be more basic than your level of knife skills at present, but it's worth a look.

There are also numerous topics in the eG Forums on selecting knives. Just do a search in the Kitchen Consumer forum. Knife choice is a personal thing, so it's best to avoid buying knives that you have not held in your hands.

Good luck!

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How about someone who's 40-years old, and wants to work in a restaurant due to mid-life crisis reasons?

Here's a bit of backstory. I was once a reporter and editor. That went swimmingly, until I saw that the jig was up for newspapers in general. I decided to switch careers in the late 1990s and became a brew master at a small brew pub.

Brewing beer turned out to be my main reason for existence. It's impossible for me to describe the pride and joy of turning grain, water, hops and yeast into great beer. Things went swimmingly in my new-found career until family got in the way of life. My mother in law became very ill, and we both quit our jobs and moved close to mom. (Moving mom close to us was not an option.)

My wife was able to find work in her field, but I am not. Resigned to the fact that my chances of finding a position as brewer (or assistant brewer) here in Las Vegas are slim, I'd like to regroup and do something else. My idea is find work at a pizza restaurant to gain experience on a line, and eventually in restaurant management. When we no longer need to take care of mom, I'd like to leave this town. We'll move to Oregon, where licensing for a brewpub is quick and inexpensive. I'll start a brewpub where I serve beer, pizza, iced tea, and nothing else. (Ideally, the restaurant would serve beer, pizza and nothing else. But I'll have to put tea and water on for the tea-totalers.) I wouldn't even serve soda, unless it was fountain soda and I made the extracts myself.

So, here's my problem -- all the job postings on craigslist want someone with 3-5 years of hand tossed, high-volume pizza experience. While I can toss a pizza, and I have scads of restaurant experience (as head brewer), I have no line experience and am disinclined to bullshit my way into the position.

Any thoughts? My next step is to knock on doors and start talking to pizzeria managers. But if anyone has any advice for me, I'm all ears.

As far as cooking skills, I'd rate myself a six out of 10. My knife skills are adequate for the career change. I know the fundamentals. I'm not adverse to taking classes. But at my age, I'd rather just get in somewhere and start working my way up. (Besides, all of the culinary classes at the local community college are booked solid. I registered as a student and checked.)

So, chefs and cooks and everyone else -- if you wanted to break in, how would you go about it?


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Since you want to work at a really specific type of place, I'd either start knocking on doors and applying in person everywhere as either an apprentice or as a dishwasher. Once you ave the foot in the door, even as a dishwasher, you'll be able to see how things are done and, eventually, you'll probably be able to step in and cook some time when someone calls in sick.

As for practice, check out the eG courses linked in the prior posts. For pizza, there are several good pizza communities online, I'd search around. And, there are some good

videos specifically on pizza tossing, which can, BTW, be practiced with a wet towel.

And, Jeff Varasano's Website is always a good read.

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All I can do is wish you every success, you seem to have thought the college/ no college thing through, and whilst qualifications do help, I know plenty of chefs who have got by just fine without, my only comment towards the former is that as you reach a more knowlegable position (sous chef for example) college would have given you a classical grounding to deal with head chefs demands and the ability to answer junior chefs questions with much more ease, I only point this out because my sous chef has no college training and from my point of view his lack of basic classical knowledge can be at times bloody frustrating.

anyway, having read some way through this post, I offer:-

firstly, forget about gaging meat, if you are starting at the bottom then work those knife skills, pick up speed (don't be dangerous though, I don't care about your fingers personally, but it I would rather you take a minute longer, than waste 5 rooting through the always inadequately stocked first aid box). You will be washing lettuce, peeling EVERYTHING, chopping, blanching, making dressings etc. etc. etc. long before any respectable cook will let you near the lamb fillet, or other high priced items. In this I am assuming you wish to cook at a reasonable level and not just a diner job.

be prepared to be abused (not in an illegal sort of way), but you will have frustrated chef de parties screaming at you in the early days for not getting it right or just for being to slow, and even at 28 I was too old to take tose kind of rollockings (for the record I worked in pubs and cheap hotels firstly and didn't start in 5* properties until I was 27), these chefs will be much younger than you but far more kitchen wise.

main piece of advice, keep your cool, and try to take from each day the improvements (even if it feels some day there were none!). when I started in 5* I had a notepad in my kitchen at home called the s**t list, after a bad day (the kind when you want to run home crying for mommy), I simply would write the date down, and after a few months I looked in the book and found the gaps between dates was getting longer, so proved to me I was getting a little better.

You are about to embark into a hell of a career and I hope you can find a good kitchen to work in where the chefs want to teach, the hours can be long and the environment inhospitable, but ultimately nothing is more rewarding that the production of a perfect piece of food, and the heartwarming feedback from your guests (although this can be rare as they expect great things, ah well can't have everything!)

I am afraid I have no experience of job-hunting in the US as I work in London, however a willingness to learn and helpful attitude are much more important than any bit of paper saying you can cook will ever be, knock on doors, write letters, make calls. be persistent but don't bug. and the very best of luck to you.

Alex.


after all these years in a kitchen, I would have thought it would become 'just a job'

but not so, spending my time playing not working

www.e-senses.co.uk

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A development -- a student (or students) withdrew from the classes I wanted at College of Southern Nevada. So I am taking basic cookery and restaurant management 101. It's a start at least. I'm hoping being around culinary students, chefs and instructors will open a door or two.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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A good site that I found for basic cooking skills is freeculinaryschool.com. Lots of info on there and podcasts to listen to on the way to your 12 hour prep shift.

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Ah, and here is another one...

42. Quit my job after 21 years working as a labor and delivery RN. Going to the same school as the person who started this thread, MCI. Have been there for a year now. Have really enjoyed going to school and have learned more than I can tell you. Have been doing an "extended" stage at an upscale casual place in town and have learned a tremendous amount from that as well. Not really sure what I want to do when I get out of school. Have done the level I Sommelier course and love to write. Know full well that I am too old to work the line. There are already too many miles on my body from working 50-70 hours a week as a nurse! :sad:

That said, I would not trade the opportunity I have to go to school for anything. I have met great people who have encouraged me, in spite of my age and I am an excellent student. One poster talked about long hours, low pay and bad treatment. That is certainly out there. The one that bothers me most is the bad treatment. I walked out on a class the other day after being berated in front of the entire class by the chef b/c I was about 15 mins late for class. A tractor-trailer had jack-knifed about a half mile from my house. I left early to try to compensate, but was still late. I understand the need for timeliness, but this was an instructor I had previously taken a course with, who knows I am not chronically late. It is difficult to go from a profession you have years of experience in to being yelled at by someone who is the age of your oldest child! I understand that is part of the game, but I know it is not necessarily like that everywhere, nor do I believe it has to be. It was interesting to discover that nurses and doctors are not the only ones who "eat their young." But keep my favorite saying in mind... "Youth and talent are no match for age and treachery!" :laugh:

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Hey Broken -

Do you live in Southeast MI? If so, have you investigated Schoolcraft College? I heard it's highly recommended.


Edited by crinoidgirl (log)

V

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