Living & Working in Great Places
before i started doing seasonal work, i worked in the construction industry for over 20 years. i didn't quit working construction intentionally, i just sort of fell into working in the hospitality industry when things slowed down and i was really stressed out. i took a maintnece job because it sort of went along with what i was doing in the real world.
lately though, i feel i need to get out of my comfort zone and take on a new challenge. i think i wouldn't mind becoming a line cook. i see jobs posted on here all the time at places i would really like to be at.
so i guess what i am asking is where is a good place to start? i will be in town all summer so it will probably be easier to find a entry level job part time. i have worked fast food when i was in high school but that was a long time ago. anyways any advice from cooks would be helpful, thanks.
you might want to start out small like being a prep cook or pantry cook that way you can kinda get the feel of it right now i was a dishwasher before moving to pantry i had no experiance in being an pantry cook but i;m learning alot
I liked being a pantry cook :) and I agree, that's a good way to get in the kitchen and still be able to watch & learn from all the other cooks.
My first question is....can you cook? And if so, in what capacity? It can be fun, I have done it on many levels!
A line cook usually has a set menu to follow, so repetition, but are you looking for the chance to be creative and if so, are you up to the challenge?
You not only need to know how to cook, you have to enjoy it. If you don't, it'll be a special kind of hell for you. I also recommend not jumping into the line right away. A smart employer wouldn't do that anyway given you have no prior experience as a professional cook. Pantry/garde manger is a decent spot to start.....or as a dedicated prep cook. I've never worked so hard and been paid so little for it, but I had a lot of fun as well working in kitchens. It can be quite the rush too, as it's a high stress and high energy environment.
The combination of fire, knives, and egos makes for an interesting mix at times, add sleep deprivation to that and you have helluva recipe on your hands lol.
I've worked construction as well, and I can tell you now that you'll have the right sense of humor, as kitchen humor and attitudes and construction environment humor and attitudes have a lot in common.
Pick a large location, and there will most likely be many openings for such entry level kitchen jobs that will allow you to slowly and comfortably develop your skills. If you pick a smaller location, there's more of a chance you'll find yourself in one of those baptism by fire situations. If you do, it's sink or swim at that point and you're at greater risk for burn out. I really enjoyed working at the Grand Canyon South Rim, and they usually have prep cook positions open now and then.
AMEN !! :)
Very good response.
It takes years to move along the various positions of the kitchen with just on-the-job learning. I'm going to suggest a slightly different move. First definitely do the pantry/prep route. If you find you really enjoy working with food make a headway into various types of cooking with someone that is willing to add mentoring in that area. There is saute and broiler, breakfast, baking, banquets...all with different skill sets. Then there's chef duties like menu development, ordering... The different route I might suggest is after a little work with that mentor is going to school.
Not one of the big schools where you will pay much much more than its value, but one of the local tech school programs across the country. School, without the prior experience, is not going to be more frustrating than valuable. But school, after that experience will jump you years ahead.
I have some of the reverse situation going on. I want to expand my service into other areas at times for new challenges...front of house, housekeeping, retail, front desk. The problem I have is they see a couple of decades of kitchen experience, with many years in breakfast and baking both of which are in greater demand than any other area...
This is not the best of times to try any kind of career change. With unemployment still at almost twenty percent (pay no attention to what the government says about that), there are fewer job openings per capita than there have been since the First Great Depression (we are currently in the Second). This means that employers can cherry-pick from hundreds of applicants for each open position. And because of the huge number of applicants, HR people typically spend ten seconds or less (according to a recent study) looking at a given application. What's the thing they're looking for? EXPERIENCE. These days, not having experience (preferably, extensive) is a non-starter. It used to be that in many professions--cooking included--you could waltz right up and get a job the same day in a variety of locales. Cooking used to be a recession-proof occupation; there was always demand. Now, people who have jobs hang on to them, and companies are VERY reluctant to hire/expand their workforce.
I did the resort-short order cook thing for three years every summer when I was in school. However, that was quite a while ago, before the powers that be destroyed the economy. It was fun while it lasted, though--I enjoyed the work, and I always had a certain degree of autonomy. Plus, if my immediate supervisor was a douchebag, I could just hand him my apron and walk out, and two days later I'd have a job somewhere else. The only things I didn't like about the job were that kitchens are hot places, and that it's impossible to avoid cutting or burning yourself now and then.
In the Coolworks context, cooking jobs now fall into two categories: gourmet cooking for lodge guests, and the mass production of swill for cafeterias/fast food stands/etc. and employee dining rooms. For the latter type of job, you can get by without actual cooking experience, as all you need to have is the ability to distinguish between "the pink stuff," "the brown stuff," and "the green stuff." (There are exceptions, of course.)
Jon- At resorts, until you are way high up the kitchen food chain (no pun intended) the money is in the serving of...... not the cooking of....food. Have you ever considered getting some serving experience....being a server or bartender. From what people i work with tell me, a good server makes twice what a cook makes until you have a lot of experience as a cook.