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First Time Working the Line


Not Alice's Restaurant
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I am relatively new to the culinary/restaurant world. I have been in school about a year and have been doing a stage at a small, upscale casual place for about 3 months. The chef/owner is doing a charity event soon and is taking me with her to work the line instead of one of her regular, well trained staff. While I am thrilled about the opportunity, I am a little nervous. I will have only had a few nights on the line at the restaurant prior to the event. While I don't think she would put me (or herself) in a situation that I couldn't handle, I wonder what it will be like to work with just the two of us.

So, do any of you remember your first time working the line? What was it like? Any funny or exciting stories you want to share? :cool: Was it great? :biggrin: Was it a disaster? :shock: I would love to hear them all! :smile:

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  • 2 weeks later...

I remember it mostly in retrospect and think about how slow I was. I almost can't believe how long things took compared to my work a few weeks/months later. Just make sure you mise en place is impeccable and everything will be fine.

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  • 1 month later...

If you burn yourself don't ask for a band aid and perhaps a little burn cream :raz:

While I appreciate and recognize the reference, and the bravado that Bourdain invokes, in this instance, current health codes are restrictive enough that an apprentice line cook who would keep working through seeping cuts, oozing burn wounds and such would be automatically disqualified from employment.

In the past, it would have been perceived as dedication to the craft. While I still don't doubt that such an environment where one might, somewhat unsanitarially stage may still exist, the threat of shut-down from the health department, these days, is enough to shut off a career of a budding chef, if he should decide to go ahead and prep salad vegetables, or practically any other ingredient, while bleeding all over them. Don't do it. Well, unless Han Solo just severed your left arm and you've got a Jedi knight waiving away all doubt from the quality of your product.

Just sayin'.

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Before you try to move at mach-chicken (that's damn fast by the way), move smart: Think every movement through. Place things in the same place EVERY SINGLE TIME- that way when you fall into the weeds your not searching for salt, tongs, etc. You may feel like a failure, you may even be kicked off the line, but this is the only way to learn.... jump into the middle of the fire. Most important (to me at least): maintain your standards at all times (striving to always improve) and never give up. Good luck. (my first night was hell and heaven at the same time)

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  • 4 weeks later...

My first night on the line was scary. I remember my hands shaking with both adrenaline and fear. We had one full turn (about 80) on the first night the restaurant was open. I had servers and dish washers helping me plate salad. The whole kitchen was in disarray not only because it was my first night on the line, but it was the first night open. I worked 2 stations that night, and I have to say, for my first shot in a professional kitchen and first night on the line I did pretty good.

Just make your mise is perfect (including knives, tools, plates, squeeze bottles, towels, etc.) and make sure you keep your station perfectly clean. And make sure you know your pickups like the back of your hand. I used to always keep a notebook in my pocket with all of my stations dish components and plating instructions, just in case my mind turned to mush (which occasionally happens to me when I panic and get nervous

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Last year I decided to get back in the industry. Dave Scantland informed me of an entry level opening (prep/dish) at a new restaurant by a relatively new to celebritism chef. I dove feet first into it as I staged and was accepted for a part time position(cook's wages won't pay my mortgage). My first week there I could hear the chef yelling at the fry station all night. It was a nightly thing. The second week, I came in on a saturday afternoon to find both sous chefs working the fry station. I was immediately put on the backup position and quickly told how to make all the items. An hour later someone else showed up and I was moved to the lead position and successfully worked the station rest of the day. Suddenly I'm on the schedule for fry. The next saturday however, I got weeded so bad I was kicked off the station. A year later and I can pretty much do anything in the kitchen required of me.

Edited by RAHiggins1 (log)
Veni Vidi Vino - I came, I saw, I drank.
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