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Job-hunting, staging, learning – looking for advice!

4 posts in this topic


I'm on a mission to become a cook. I'm halfway through a two-month stage at the best restaurant I can commute to. Before this I've done about three months in another kitchen owned by the same people. My stage will be ending soon and I need to figure out how to move forward.

My short term goals are to make a wage I can live on and as quickly as possible find out whether I want to work in a fine dining restaurant and if I can handle it, probably by getting a stage in one.

I'm not looking for any shortcuts, but I am looking for the most direct path.

I don't even know exactly which questions to ask, but here are some things I don't know:

  • I don't know what kind of skills and experience it takes to get a stage in a michelin star restaurant.
  • I don't know what sorts of jobs I should look for with my experience and my prioritized goal of learning as much and as quickly as I can. One cook at my current restaurant suggested I get "any" kind of job where I get to be responsible for my own station, no matter the type of food they serve. He suggested a sports bar. I don't know if this is a good idea or if I should look for a position with less responsibility (prep cook?) in a restaurant where I actually want to work. What are my options?
  • I don't know what I need to study. I've got a background in physics (undergrad) and I'm reading stuff like Modernist Cuisine and On Food and Cooking. But it's too unfocused, I wish I knew more precisely what knowledge I should acquire that will help me on my mission. Should I cook my way through Le Guide Culinaire in my spare time, or should I learn the recipe to every thing on the menu where I'm doing my stage? I'm lost.
  • I don't know which habits I need to develop to work effectively and learn effectively. I'm obsessive about working clean, organizing my station and improving technique. I take notes on anything I find interesting or important and I'm always watching people to see how they work. I don't know if there are things I should be focusing on that I don't even know about.

I realize this post is pretty jumbled but I've been on this path for six months now and I've never had any guidance. I mean, beyond the usual people telling me what I can't do and that the odds are against me. If parts of it seem brash or naive, that's probably because I am. I would love to hear some wisdom and experience though.

Edited by Modig (log)

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There are lots of relevant topics addressing this to be found in the list of Restaurant Life discussions, a few of which are Starting in the Culinary World, Landing your first fine dining kitchen job, I need some career advice.

I've been unusually slack about searching before I post. I apologize if this thread is redundant and I'm very grateful you took the time to hook me up with those links. Will read thoroughly, thanks!

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A year ago it was me posting the "how to get your first job in fine dining" thread. Honestly cant believe its only been a year and Ive come this far!

My advice is to get yourself out there and apply at every restaurant you would possibly want to work at. Do your homework and know a little about the menu and chef at every place you want to work, and then just try to convey how badly you want to work in that place to learn how they do things.

I was told on this very forum that my chances of starting in fine dining were almost nil, yet I tried anyway and was soon working in a james beard winning kitchen for a pretty well known chef. Just get out there and start applying for jobs!

As for what you need to know when you start, the answer is honestly not much. You will learn more in the first week on the job in a good restaurant than you can learn in a year of culinary school/reading books. Just listen to instruction and be willing to work and that will get you pretty far in this business.

Edited by Twyst (log)

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