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SaladFingers

My First Day in a New Kitchen

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Show up early and be ready to work. If someone says "Can you grab those potatoes and scrub them for me?", the correct answer is "yes"... not "but I'm not on the clock yet". Do what you're told, when you're told and do it well even if it sucks. If you're not sure, ask. Better to feel dumb about asking than to screw up something because you didn't ask.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Do what you're told, when you're told and do it well even if it sucks. If you're not sure, ask. Better to feel dumb about asking than to screw up something because you didn't ask.

To show you're not a dope but recognize different practices among kitchens, if given an instruction that's unclear to you, state your understanding and then ask if it's accurate. "Chef, I usually do mirepoix in a 1:1:1 ratio by weight. Does that sound right?" is a lot better than "Chef, what's a mirepoix?"


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Go in early and do a walk thru of the kitchen and coolers, to familiarize yourself where everything is. The #1 time waster of a new job is trying to figure out where things are. Try to acomplish 2 tasks at one time. Work clean. Step in to help, but don't get in over your head. Don't ever stop moving. After shift, while cleaning include any detail cleaning. Good luck!

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In simple terms, bust ass. Show up a bit early, make sure you work clean, ask questions, etc. I would honestly have someone ask a shit ton of questions rather than screw a bunch of crap up or spend 3x longer trying to find something in dry storage than it should take. Work smart, always try and find something to do......use common sense, you'll do fine.


Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality.

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always try and find something to do......

That's a big one for me. There is always something to do. I was taught that lesson young. When I was in highschool I worked during the summers on a framing crew building houses. Once I had finished what I was told to do and was kinda relaxing in the shade. The saw guy told me to do something that he normally did and I, being the typical teenager I suppose, replied "that's not my job". The boss, who was somehow equipped with the worlds best ears, came from all the way on the other side of the house where hammering and other noises were going on (I still don't know how he always heard everything) and proceeded to "explain" to me very loudly and at great length that the whole d@%n house was everybody's job and, until it was finished, if there was something that needed doing my a$$ better be doing it.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Show up on time, dressed and ready to work.

Pay attention to what you're told, and what everyone else is told.

Learn from your mistakes, and learn from other's mistakes (invaluable lessons there).

Clean as you go, always look for what else you can do.

If you're not sure of something, ask.

Like I tell my staff, there are no stupid questions.

Those are the easiest to answer though.

:biggrin:

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Have a sous or whomever is close check your work before you do the whole bag of potatos wrong or whatever it is. A simple "is this the right cut?" will save a lot of headache.

And stay out of the chef's face. The other chef's will report your progress.


Edited by RAHiggins1 (log)

Veni Vidi Vino - I came, I saw, I drank.

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We had a new stage last night, this is what we (he, I, a prep cook, and a line cook did in 6 hours last night.

we did 40 pounds of turkey burgers (already ground)

10 pounds of wild turkey (special burger)

10 pounds of southern burgers

breaded the chicken burgers, like 60 of them

made a case of b&b pickles

4 gallons of smoked mayo

peeled and cut into fries 300 pounds of potatoes

pickled jicama

house vin

ceasar dressing

watermelon rind ball pickles

ground 30 pounds of shrimp and made patties

ground 3 cases of mushrooms and set to drain for turf and earth burger

backed up what the line needed

we were supposed to cut wax beans but did not get to it

we were supposed to grind corned beef and make patties but it wasn't thawed

organised and consolidated the walk in

and of course cleanup and wash all the big metal from the line at close.

Thats what you expect your first day and everyday. I put the stage in the middle of it and made him fetch fries for the line, cut herbs for their mise, cut bib for garde's mise, and anything else that came up. He asked me to check his work, I told him what to do better or differently. He'll start learning grill this saturday on the busiest day of the week.


Veni Vidi Vino - I came, I saw, I drank.

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Well, I did ask whenever I finished doing something, what chef wanted me to do next but I certainly didn't come close to doing anywhere near that amount of work. The day's prep was quite laid back until service time, when it went mental and I was reduced to standing back admiring the confusion.

Cut myself twice inside the first ten minutes but luckily not again for the rest of the day. I tried talking about food and asking questions all the way through. I am hideously quiet though, while everyone else is really pretty loud, which I find extremely daunting and I cannot see them warming to me much.

Overall, I learned how to make beef/chicken stock (their way), sabayon sauce, fennel puree, celeriac and apple soup, avocado ice cream, ham beignets and canape size shepherd's pie. There are no recipes, so the quantity of butter/cream/water etc etc are vague in my head.

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I don't want to take over this thread, but it is similarly related. Would it be acceptable for a new team member to work a little slower over the first few days to make sure the work is done correctly? I would personally prefer to get things done right the first time and take my time doing it.

Dan


"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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I'm certainly not experienced enough to answer with authority but I've been training three new staff over the past month and have learned to say, "This is about speed, not precision," or "This is about perfection so take your time and do it right."

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Thats the difference between an experienced new employee and an inexperienced new employee. I expected precise and quick out of the experienced ones(gauged thru the interview process)and a starting from scratch approach with those that I felt had little realtime experience. So I expected little from the latter.

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Another one, if you see something out of place and you know how it is supposed to be, correct it. If there are 2 containers of the same thing in the walk-in, pull them out and combine them. If there is a cup of mayo left in a gallon jug move it to a deli and label it. Don't wait to be told to clean and organize the spice rack,do it after the last thing you were told to do and are waiting for the chef to be free to ask what's next. (I'll bet the chef will let you finsh the spice rack and then tell you to do something afterwards.)


Edited by RAHiggins1 (log)

Veni Vidi Vino - I came, I saw, I drank.

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I am hideously quiet though, while everyone else is really pretty loud, which I find extremely daunting and I cannot see them warming to me much.

Maybe off topic, but this could be social anxiety, which, if it interferes with your life to a significant degree, may be suitable for medical treatment. I took some anxiety meds for about a year and they really helped - unfortunately made me slightly nauseated all the time, which didn't go so well with kitchen work...just saying that if serious shyness or anxiety around people is causing you to not function as well in your daily life as you'd like to, it may be worth a chat with your doctor. It's OK to be quiet, but you should also be getting as much out of life as you want to be getting and not be afraid of your co-workers.

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If there are 2 containers of the same thing in the walk-in, pull them out and combine them.

Unless you happen to be in my kitchen, then please do not do that. :biggrin:


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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If there are 2 containers of the same thing in the walk-in, pull them out and combine them.

Unless you happen to be in my kitchen, then please do not do that. :biggrin:

In the kitchen I work in it's not uncommon to have 5 gallons of smoked mayo made each day and sometimes the last two days will be half empty thanks to foh not looking at dates on green tape.

I would hope as you are probably thinking that someone would not combine something from last week with something made today. I usually pull the old stuff out and line it up to get a nod on tossing it out. We had 6 containers of saved fat in the walkin the last time. I showed it to a sous and asked what to do with it.


Edited by RAHiggins1 (log)

Veni Vidi Vino - I came, I saw, I drank.

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If there are 2 containers of the same thing in the walk-in, pull them out and combine them.

Unless you happen to be in my kitchen, then please do not do that. :biggrin:

In the kitchen I work in it's not uncommon to have 5 gallons of smoked mayo made each day and sometimes the last two days will be half empty thanks to foh not looking at dates on green tape.

I would hope as you are probably thinking that someone would not combine something from last week with something made today. I usually pull the old stuff out and line it up to get a nod on tossing it out. We had 6 containers of saved fat in the walkin the last time. I showed it to a sous and asked what to do with it.

Which reminds me be careful how well you do something. I organize and clean so well its now written on my todo list each night I work, even if I'm on the line and have a station to break down at close.


Veni Vidi Vino - I came, I saw, I drank.

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I am hideously quiet though, while everyone else is really pretty loud, which I find extremely daunting and I cannot see them warming to me much.

Maybe off topic, but this could be social anxiety, which, if it interferes with your life to a significant degree, may be suitable for medical treatment. I took some anxiety meds for about a year and they really helped - unfortunately made me slightly nauseated all the time, which didn't go so well with kitchen work...just saying that if serious shyness or anxiety around people is causing you to not function as well in your daily life as you'd like to, it may be worth a chat with your doctor. It's OK to be quiet, but you should also be getting as much out of life as you want to be getting and not be afraid of your co-workers.

I am someone who has had social anxiety in the past, the best thing for me actually was working in kitchens and being thrown to the wolves as it were. Facing your fears is the best way to overcome them, and if you are socially anxious kitchens, especially faced-paced ones, can be the scariest places. If you are a young cook or even just a new one in a kitchen no one will pay you any mind, but even the most green cooks will develop a relationship with other cooks over time. They will pay you mind and respect you if you respect them. Then you will move on to another kitchen, where it is the same thing, social anxiety no one notices you or cares etc. and then the next kitchen until you start to learn how to cope with these feelings and get better at it.

I am also just sort of against meds as a principle, I think they are good for some people but a lot of the time an easy way out.

Working in kitchens had taught me so many things just by the nature of it being hard work, and myself wanting to excel at it. From social skills to confidence to ego control, its all a learning process, and a beautiful thing at that.

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Loosecannon Dolph, I agree with you completely! Something about "being thrown to the wolves," (this was at culinary school) as you put it so eloquently, really brought me out of my shell. In about three months, I went from the silent, acutely self-aware, miserable newby to one of the gang; something I never did accomplish in regular school or in other jobs. I'm not cooking professionally now, but in my present job I've managed to keep that self-confident attitude, and it's great! It's really all about forgetting yourself and putting the group's needs first and foremost, I think. All of the advice here to SaladFingers is very good.

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The progression of every dedicated cook is oddly linked. We all start out scared and ambitious at the same time. Then I think there is a period of realization that you are excelling and that is a turning point, We all develop ego's at that point. "I am better than the pack, my food is better" etc. At this point we either run with this (mistake I think) or we move on to a harder challenge. Progressing and getting better at your trade is something that gives us meaning in life, something in the distance to strive for. Some of us stay in the ponds eating the smaller fish and loving it. Some of us flop to the seas to see how we fare against the sharks and whales. It is those people who will become the best. I never want to work in a kitchen where I am the best, I always want to be surrounded by people who are better than me. With time as I have learned I will pick up and adapt their good qualities notice and shake off their weaknesses and become better than them. I stay away from the money because I want to be a better cook. This is what we love, this is why we love and live. Money is comfort and ease, that is not part of a cooks way of life. We do well in difficult situations, we solve problems. The easy way out is always the wrong path to take, because it makes you weaK. If you push yourself to your limits and let your chefs push you past them, you will become a great chef. Money is something to live with, reputation is something to die with.

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Very simple-show up early, put your head down, shut the f up and work cleanly and quietly-think about your questions before you ask them, and do plenty of reading in your off time-Kitchen Confidential, French Laundry Cookbook, anything by chefs about their work habits...


"have a sense of humor about things...you'll need it" A. Bourdain

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I'm in a different business, but I think my advice to young pups is pretty universal, "If you're going to f*ck up, f*uck up with enthusiasm!" Or perhaps it should be, "You are going to f*ck up, so..."


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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