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Breaking Into The Food Industry


Chuck Steak
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I've decided to take the plunge and move to NYC. I've had almost 4 years experience as a bartender and waiter in a restaurant in my small Massachusetts town. Its a family restaurant, a throwback of sorts where most dinners consist of a slab of protein, choice of potato, and parsley and lemon wedges are still the predominant garnishes. Business has been slow as of late but its still a fairly large place that can do around 200-300 covers on a weekend night and as many as 1000 on holidays.

Many of the job listings I've seen are looking with people with NYC experience but I'm confident in the skills I've obtained to date and think I can make the transition. I enjoy being in restaurants and around food and envision making some kind of a career out of that.

I'm wondering if those living and/or working in the city have any advice for me or others who may find themselves in my situation.

As an aside, I've been following the forums for sometime now and the enjoyment and information I've gotten from them is immeasurable. My thanks to all those who have posted before and to any that can offer any advice.

Charles Prusik

Chuck Steak

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Though most of my experience is in the back of the house which differs slightly, I think the best way to break into the NYC rstaurant scene is to find a place that suits you and your experience level. By that I mean,don't try for the newest or hottest restaurant/bar of the year, but a place that is well respected and has a long history of turning out good employees who have moved on to other places. Once you have some respectable NY experience under your belt the transition into the job that you really want will be much easier. But then again, it never hurts to apply and there is something to be said for just going for it.

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There are tons of restaurant jobs out there. All it takes to break into the industry as you say is to go on craigslist and send some emails. You'll have a job in less than a week.

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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FYI, for a lot of FOH jobs in the finer restaurants, they will require you to backwait for up to 6 months before making you a full server. No matter how much experience you have in other cities. Just so you know; don't be discouraged.

Also check out Shiftdrink.com, Shamelessrestaurants.com or WaiterRant for some insight into the FOH scene here.

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