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jgarner53

Appropriate interview attire

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I have a question, since I'm heading out to find my first pastry job, and it's my first non-corporate type job. What's considered appropriate dress? I'd feel silly walking into a restaurant kitchen in heels and a skirt, but are (clean) jeans out, too? Considering that most bakers wear some kind of uniform (whether it's a chef's uniform or the staff's in company t-shirts and aprons), the old adage, "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have," doesn't seem to quite apply here.


"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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Here's what I've done.....

In instances where I wasn't exactly sure what the interview entailed, I would wear my chef's

jacket....my reasoning for this was that they may want me to audition "on the spot", and in that

case I was ready. If they didn't ask me to audition, I would offer to and tell them I was ready to go, right now. Even if I didn't have to audition right then and there, it impressed them that I was ready to back up what I said immediately.

I never wore a skirt or heels.....just nice neat casual clothes, and sometimes I'd have my chef jacket over my arm. Either way, they knew I meant business! :rolleyes:

Good luck....I know with your passion and enthusiasm you should have no problem finding a job! :wub:

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I have a question, since I'm heading out to find my first pastry job, and it's my first non-corporate type job. What's considered appropriate dress? I'd feel silly walking into a restaurant kitchen in heels and a skirt, but are (clean) jeans out, too? Considering that most bakers wear some kind of uniform (whether it's a chef's uniform or the staff's in company t-shirts and aprons), the old adage, "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have," doesn't seem to quite apply here.

Jeans are out as far as I'm concerned. The Pastry Chef doesn't wear a chef's uniform.


I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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Jeans are out as far as I'm concerned. The Pastry Chef doesn't wear a chef's uniform.

I agree about not wearing jeans, but every pastry chef and cook I've met has worn a chef's uniform. The hat may be different, but same jacket and pants.

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The Pastry Chef doesn't wear a chef's uniform.

What do you mean by that, exactly? Of course we do. In any kitchen I've been in that required a uniform, we wore the same thing the hot side did.

Are we any less "chefs" than the savory people? Heck no! :huh:

The only difference my uniforms have is short sleeves. My arms are down in giant mixers of batter a lot, and long sleeves don't quite cut it.


Edited by chefpeon (log)

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I know it's non-corporate, but I always wear a skirt or pants suit to an interview no matter if I'm trying for the corner bakery or the Ritz. It's always a good idea to dress up for an interview to show that you take it seriously. Or at least that's what they told me at school. Most places I've been seem pretty positive about it.

Of course, I have my uniform and shoes in the car or in a bag with me in case they want a bench test. Never really had the hair problem 'cause mine's pretty short so I can't help you there.

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What I meant was (I was thinking of what a chef de cuisine would wear. I just realized now that i'm in the Pastry forum). I've never worked with or interviewed a pastry chef that didn't wear checked pants, not the black slacks that the chef de cuisine wears. Unless of course the pastry chef is doing a public demo or in a contest or some such. As for the chef's whites, some chef de cuisines wear the ones with the piping and all that. I prefer plain white the same as any else on the line can wear. Wear a cap to the interview.


I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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Well in my opinion, it kind of depends on the position you're applying for. If you're applying for a pastry cook/asst. job, I don't think you need to come into it in full-on chef gear. If you're applying for a head pastry/sous chef job--sure, wear a chef coat, etc. I have a feeling that since it's your first pastry job, that you're not applying for the latter position? If that is indeed the case, and it is just a preliminary interview and not a stage, then do dress up. Why not? It's professional. I did it at my very first pastry interview and was immediately offered a stage. I walked in there in a nice pantsuit and high heels, hair pulled back in a neat ponytail. After all, it IS an interview, NOT a stage. Even at my stage I didn't wear full on gear and was offered the job a couple hours later. However, I did ask him in advance what he preferred me to wear. His response was, "whatever's comfortable for you". So I suppose it really does vary. But I just don't think it's necessary to get all "chefed out" on your trial day. Your potential boss isn't going to be judging you on if you wear jeans or not. They're gonna care if you can get the job done. Just don't go into it with hair in your face wearing your jammy-jams. THAT would be bad. As long as you're not in the kitchen preparing food, I would dress professionally.

Again, just MY opinion!


-Elizabeth

Mmmmmmm chocolate.

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I'm heading out to find my first pastry job,

I would dress more casually if I was going into a Mom & Pop shop than I would if I was going into a hotel or larger place. Probably a pair of nice slacks, just no jeans. I'd wear a pants and a jacket (they don't have to be a set) to a hotel interview.

I personally, don't like to see people come in in their uniforms, ONLY if I know the person. I think wearing your uniform is too casual. I want to see whom that person is in street cloths. And I hope that you have some style and can put together a nice outfit appropriate to you body.

Going in on a job as the lead/ pastry chef I wear a suit (with style) and dress as professionally as I'm comfortable. I don't wear high heels or pretent to be something I'm not. I pick out an outfit along the lines of something I'd wear to my husbands company party.

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And I hope that you have some style and can put together a nice outfit appropriate to you body.

Wendy, isn't that kind of irrelevant to whether or not the person can do the job? I admit to living in jeans and t-shirts these days because mostly the alternative for me (what's in my closet right now) is generally boring corporate clothes (button down shirts, a couple of pairs of slacks that I'm proud to say are too big for me right now). I guess it's an excuse to get something that's between the two.

As for my hair, mine is an odd length -- too long to be considered "short," and too short to pull back. When I'm working, I do wear a bandanna to keep it covered and out of my face. I would never, ever wear that to an interview.

Thanks for all the suggestions. Yes, I am looking for a pastry cook job, not a chef's position. My first interview is coming up on the 29th.


"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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This interview story I am about to tell was not at a restaurant, but it applies:

I was interviewing for a development position at a very small, very liberal, very granola college. Everyone on campus wore sandals, jeans, dreds, etc. (even the the professors). I showed up in dress slacks, a smart white shirt, nice flats and tasteful jewelry. I got the job! Later, I was told that I was the only person who came "dressed up" for the interview which told them that I took it seriously.


S. Cue

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I did a stint for several years as the production manager for a wholesale/retail bakery with four locations in Seattle. I had to do a lot of hiring....and some firing. Here are my thoughts regarding attire, etc.

As jgarner said, really, the first concern the interviewer has is whether or not the person can do the job. What they wear only tells you miniscule things about the person, and they may be false.

You might think, "Oh they are wearing a nice suit (or dress)". This could mean one of several things:

A) they really want this job and are doing everything possible to help get them hired;

B) they own a lot of nice clothes;

C) they just went to a seminar on job hunting and learned that dressing nice might help them get hired even though their resume is less than spectacular;

D) they are people who have been to a lot of interviews and are "old hats" at it. These people usually talk to you to make you believe they are the employee of your dreams....but you get 'em out on the floor and it's a whole DIFFERENT story!

Of course, you hope it's "A", but it isn't always "A". My judgement of their interview attire lasted only a half a second, and I knew it might be "A", but it could be "D". Basically, when it comes down to it, what they wear to an interview doesn't mean a whole lot in the end......unless.....

they are unreasonably unkempt, or looked like they showed no thought at all about what they wore. Yeah, I probably wouldn't hire you if you walked in in a "Dead Kennedys" t-shirt, cut-offs, and sandals. However, if you threw on a chef's coat, and your resume looked ok, and you kicked ass on the floor, then I could give a rat's ass about the "Dead Kennedys" t-shirt. Like I said, the clothing is such a small part of it. What you wear to an interview won't make or break you.

I had written a story on Mel's thread about one lady who had fingernails from hell. That told me a lot.....it was an interesting experience....not to mention funny.

When I interview someone, this is what I look at first....

1)I hope for a resume......sure, we have job apps that people can fill out, but I'm immediately disappointed if there's no resume. Some people think they don't have enough job experience to warrant a resume, so they don't bother to write one. A resume tells me they had the forethought to think about and highlight their skills.....whether they have experience or not.

How the resume is laid out and written tells you a lot too. It also helps you figure out literacy levels, which is really important, since readin' and writin' is a big part of the job.

The first thing I look at on the resume is "job history"....everything else secondary. If there is no job history, then I look at the schooling if any, and I ALWAYS call references!

2) What they say and how they say it is also very important. Body language tells you a lot.

I usually ask a bunch of technical questions that might throw them if they are feeding me any

BS. If I then determine they can talk the talk, then I throw 'em on the floor to see if they can

"walk the walk". If they can walk and talk, then I may hire them. Personality and general attitudes about life also influence my judgement about a possible hire.

So I guess my point is that I look at the sum of a person's parts. In one instance I might hire a sloppy dresser, and in another instance I wouldn't give 'em a chance. It sort of all depends.

Not that I'm advocating sloppy dressing...hell no! I always say, look neat, clean, and put together. Anybody "on the ball" should know that. As an interviewer, the number one attire

that gets my attention is the chef jacket...bar none. You always get bonus points with me if

you wear one or bring one. This shows that you might anticipate an audition and you're ready

to go for it. I like that......A LOT. Self motivated people are hard to come by and probably

one of the best personality traits a PC can have. Truly.:wink:

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And I hope that you have some style and can put together a nice outfit appropriate to you body.

Wendy, isn't that kind of irrelevant to whether or not the person can do the job? I admit to living in jeans and t-shirts these days because mostly the alternative for me (what's in my closet right now) is generally boring corporate clothes (button down shirts, a couple of pairs of slacks that I'm proud to say are too big for me right now). I guess it's an excuse to get something that's between the two.

I think it is very relevant. How someone cares about their appearance tells me how they care about every little detail. Every little detail matters to me if your working for me. If you look sloppy chances are you work sloppy. If you have no style, chances are you can't put it into your work either.

I don't look great, dress great day in and day out. I'm too stressed over time or too tired to care. BUT when I go into a job interview I darn well want to put out my BEST. I always get a new outfit to look fresh, contemporary, in style, successful.

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I agree with Wendy that your personal style does matter. It doesn't mean you have to have on Versace to get a chef's job but your own sense of creativity and style will play out in everything you do in a pastry chef's job. In fact, in the foreward of Claudia Fleming's book, her boss mentions that one of the reasons he hired her was because she was so stylish in her dress, so he felt that would carry over into her work (I'm paraphrasing here... ) I can't think of any profession where this isn't true.

In the end, you must be able to back it up with good solid work, though, so walking the talk is much more important to getting and keeping the job. But for some, that first impression is the difference between being offered the chance to show you can do the work or being passed over.


Josette

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Just wanted to update you all. A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed for a job here (well, not at amazon, but at the boulangerie you see on the cover). I bought a new outfit so I could feel fresh and stylish. They told me they'd be needing someone in a few weeks, and would call me by then. I said that if I didn't hear anything from them by then, I'd call, but I didn't need to. They called me first, a week later, to invite me in for a tryout, which was yesterday (at 5am). And by the end of my tryout, they knew they wanted to offer me the job, and I enjoyed working with them.

So this afternoon, they called to offer me the job officially! :biggrin: It's my first pastry job, outside of my internship, and it's at one of the best bakeries in San Francisco, creating product that I think is great, meshes well with my own style, and working with people I seem to get along well with.

It will be a 5am shift, Wednesday thru Sunday, which will be a big adjustment for me, but I will manage somehow. For those of you who work (and have worked) baker's hours, what tips do you have to help me adjust to getting up long before the crack of dawn?


"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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Congratulations!! It looks like a beautiful shop.


Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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As one of those "crack of dawn" bakers (I get up at 3:30 am), here is my advice:

If you require a certain amount of hours to sleep (me, I need at LEAST 6, but preferably 7), get to bed early enough so you can get the sleep you need. If the persisting daylight during summer prevents you from sleeping early in the evening, get a blackout shade if you don't already have one.

Take a shower before you go to work....it really does wake you up and you feel fresh and ready to go. I think it's worth getting up a little extra early to do that.

You may have trouble getting to sleep early before your first day, but believe me, after that, you'll be tired enough to hit the hay early from that point on! I expire promptly at 8 pm every day!

And last, but not least.......coffee is your friend. :laugh:

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Congrats, jgarner!

I almost bought that book right when it came out... I've wondered about the bakery behind it ever since. I hope you'll share some photos of your product with us, if you're allowed.

I also hope your commute won't be long given your start time. When will you finish each day? 1 pm? That part will be nice, right?


"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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Congratulations!! Can't wait to hear all about it. It looks like a very nice bakery.

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Congratulations - I hope you have a great time in your new job :smile:

Currently I'm getting up at midnight to start work at 2:00 am. I can get by on 7 hours of sleep and occasionally 6, but I do best with a full 8 hours. This means I go to bed by about 3:00 pm. I always read for a bit to wind down and get sleepy. One thing that helps me when I might have trouble getting to sleep is melatonin. From the melatonin.com web site:

"Melatonin is the all-natural nightcap. It's secreted by the pineal gland, a pea-size structure at the center of the brain, as our eyes register the fall of darkness." At night melatonin is produced to help our bodies regulate our sleep-wake cycles. The amount of melatonin produced by our body seems to lessen as we get older. Scientists believe this may be why young people have less problem sleeping than older people.

It's cheap, available in the vitamin/suppliment aisle in any drug store, and doesn't make you feel "drugged" like some sleeping pills can. It's action if very mild and it doesn't always work for everyone, but I love the stuff.

The new hours will be hard at first, but you'll most likely get used to it. What will be more difficult to get used to is the huge dent it will make in your social or family life. You have to be dedicated to work the early morning shift, though 5:00 isn't really that bad.

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Thanks for the advice, all. I know that the night before my tryout, I hardly slept at all. Even though I've never slept through an alarm in my life, there's some small part of my brain that doesn't know that, and I kept waking up and checking my clock. But I'm sure that once I get started, it will be easier to sleep, mostly because I'll be exhausted.

Yes, I know this is going to make a big dent in my social life, especially since my husband has a conventional M-F job, so weekend getaways (as well as waffles on Sunday morning) will be a thing of the past.

Once I'm settled into the job, I'll try to take some pictures of our pastry kitchen and products.

Now, I just need to figure out the best way to get there and park (it's in a busy neighborhood where all the parking is either metered or on a 2-hour limit between 8 and 6. It's too far to walk, or ride a bike, and too early to bus (not to mention that I'd need to allow a full hour probably for the bus ride). But unless one of you knows of a George Jetson type car that I can fold up into a briefcase, I'm on my own with this challenge. :laugh:


"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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Congratultions on the job!

I had an interview today, for a sous chef's position.

The head chef, on the phone, had said the following reassuring line :

"oh, and don't worry about any of that suited and booted bullshit - I'm not going to employ you based on your dress sense". This from a man who gained a michelin star for two of his own kitchens and worked for a long time in a 3-star kitchen... :)


Edited by culinary bear (log)

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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Thanks for the advice, all. I know that the night before my tryout, I hardly slept at all. Even though I've never slept through an alarm in my life, there's some small part of my brain that doesn't know that, and I kept waking up and checking my clock. But I'm sure that once I get started, it will be easier to sleep, mostly because I'll be exhausted.[...]

My solution for avoiding sleeping through alarms is to set both my alarm clock and clock radio to 24-hour time (no chance to set the alarm to PM rather than AM) and put the alarm clock on Snooze. The alarm clock then rings repeatedly (every 5 minutes until turned off), and the radio's alarm is really piercing and set to the "emergency" time that's the latest I'd be able to realistically wake up and get wherever I'm going in time. I usually turn it off before it rings, but for those days when I'm really exhausted, it's a reliable last line of defense. Of course, I live by myself, so I'm not waking anyone else up with the alarms.

You're definitely a better person than I for being able to start work at 5 A.M. Enjoy your new job!


Michael aka "Pan

 

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