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Old 10-22-2007, 06:57 PM   #1
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A day in the life of a Chef

Could you all give me a "day in the life" of a Chef? I mean an honest working day, no "fluff" or exaggerations please. I'm really considering starting a new career when I retire and I'd like to know what I'm getting into.

Thanks!

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Old 10-22-2007, 07:18 PM   #2
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To hard to sum it up in 1 day, everyday is different.

Early to rise, late to bed. Cooking is just the tip of the iceberg.

Managing people can be like babysitting sometimes, dealing with crabby guests is always fun, the hours are long and demanding, kiss weekends and holidays good bye. If you smoke already, you will smoke more, same with drinking.

Never ending sense of urgency...be prepared to bust your hump and spend LONG hours standing.

I could go on and on, but I know others will chime in. If you have NEVER worked in a professional kitchen/restaurant though, don't think it is all fufu and glamorous. It is NOT like the food network. It can be a hard, demanding environment, and not everyone is cut out for it.

Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way. It is what I know, and more importantly, what I LOVE to do.
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Old 10-22-2007, 08:53 PM   #3
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Remember this..sleeping and eating are overrated. It's amazing how little sleep and sustenance you can survive on.

You get to work and find out who called out for the day. Then you have to rearrange the rest of the staff to cover the empty spot(s). Since we serve three meals a day, my lead cook and the grill cook work on breakfast while I begin soups and sauces. From there I assign tasks including entrees, sides, and we also prep for the next couple of days, as well. I like to be at least three days ahead. Afternoons, in addition to work the dinner meal, we roast meats, and I bake.

During the evening meal, more prep is handled for the next few days.

While we're working on the upcoming meal, we are also always working on something for the next couple of days.
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Old 10-22-2007, 10:55 PM   #4
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Oh God where do I start?Its a rough hard job alot of stress and timelines.Many fast paced hours in a hot kitchen.You will work with alot of jerks,slackers and the worst the totally arrogant one that thinks he knows everything.If someone quits or doesn't show up you hafto do their job also.I have worked in some places so intense with the adrenaline is so high I would get a stomach ache for at least 10 minutes after I got off work.It takes a driven personality to do it.Dont get me wrong it can be really fun at times.You get off work sweaty and sticky and feeling like crap.You better be pretty good to make any kind of decent wage and benefits usually are not included.
You need to read a book by Anthony Bourdain called Kitchen Confidential it will clue you in if just a little bit.
Im not trying to discourage you but just letting you know what you could be in for.By the way Im a female so its not just a guy job.
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Old 10-22-2007, 11:09 PM   #5
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Well, the thing is, unless you know someone or you own your own place, you’ll never enter a place as a chef anyway. With good credentials, you can hope for Sous Chef, but most often, you start as dishwasher. Do it well, and work you’re way up. The high turn-over rate in those positions is noticed and recognized by management. If you last, you get considered. Be vocal about a desire to cook and work up to it.

Even with a “degree” you’ll not get better than a sous chef in a reputable place. It’s a cut-throat business that appreciates longevity…..but only barely. Time and experience is a huge factor!
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Old 10-22-2007, 11:19 PM   #6
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OMG ya'll, I just finished reading Kitchen Confidential today and it was a blast! I know nothing about restaurants (and very little about cooking) but that book answered a lot of questions I'd had. Also, made me really respect the people who prepare my food when I go out to eat. Talk about a demanding and thankless profession!!! I bow to all of you who pull this off ever - much less on a daily basis.
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Old 10-23-2007, 01:57 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keltin View Post
Well, the thing is, unless you know someone or you own your own place, you’ll never enter a place as a chef anyway. With good credentials, you can hope for Sous Chef, but most often, you start as dishwasher. Do it well, and work you’re way up. The high turn-over rate in those positions is noticed and recognized by management. If you last, you get considered. Be vocal about a desire to cook and work up to it.

Even with a “degree” you’ll not get better than a sous chef in a reputable place. It’s a cut-throat business that appreciates longevity…..but only barely. Time and experience is a huge factor!
No Keltin... even with a "degree" you will start as a LINE COOK. $8 to $12 an hour, depending upon the city and the benevolence of your employer.

IMHO, no one who is contemplating a career in a professional kitchen should quit their day job without having worked -- or at least trailed -- in one. No, you will likely NOT be cooking, but will be washing dishes. Still, you will get an excellent vantage point from which to see what life there would be like.

There is nothing -- and I emphasize NOTHING! remotely glamorous going on in a restaurant kitchen at any hour of any day.

Those of us who do or have done it for any length of time are driven so to do. There are many enjoyable careers that are less demanding.

The Food Network has glamorized this business to such an extent that thousands have taken second mortgages on their homes to attend culinary school, only to find out much later the job was nothing like they envisioned. There is a reason why the CIA requires all entering students to have at least 6 months professional kitchen experience. They don't want to waste your money and their time.
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Old 10-23-2007, 03:06 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefJune View Post
No Keltin... even with a "degree" you will start as a LINE COOK. $8 to $12 an hour, depending upon the city and the benevolence of your employer.

IMHO, no one who is contemplating a career in a professional kitchen should quit their day job without having worked -- or at least trailed -- in one. No, you will likely NOT be cooking, but will be washing dishes. Still, you will get an excellent vantage point from which to see what life there would be like.

There is nothing -- and I emphasize NOTHING! remotely glamorous going on in a restaurant kitchen at any hour of any day.

Those of us who do or have done it for any length of time are driven so to do. There are many enjoyable careers that are less demanding.

The Food Network has glamorized this business to such an extent that thousands have taken second mortgages on their homes to attend culinary school, only to find out much later the job was nothing like they envisioned. There is a reason why the CIA requires all entering students to have at least 6 months professional kitchen experience. They don't want to waste your money and their time.


Quoted For Truth. 100%

Mad Karma to ChefJune!

I must say, from a professional standpoint, I do NOT like what the food network has done. I have been inundated with young people(or old), filling out applications ad wanting work because "it looks cool" or "I have been watching food tv and like to cook"...it is hard for me to not sit them down and tell them they are into it for the wrong reasons.

Passion comes from within, not because it would be "cool" to do.

And for the record, I hate when I am somewhere and I happen to be in my whites, all of the sudden it is like"oh, how do I do this/that" and "Emeril, this/that"or the other thing....STOP IT! It is hard to convey to them that from a professional standpoint, there are like maybe 1 or 2 Chefs on there worth talking about, and 'ol Emeril is NOT one of them.

The best chefs, you never hear of really on TV cause they are busy...WORKING.

just my $.02. Sorry bout the mini-rant
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Old 10-23-2007, 04:55 AM   #9
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TATTRAT how I agree with you. In my experience there are so few who actually have the "calling". My days as chef were filled with assistant know it alls,who in essence knew nothing. When passion is involved on a professional level, there is no time clock.If it's necessary to work an hour more, it should be done without moaning and groaning.

When I left from my job 10 years ago they brought in one of these known Chefs to take my place. They payed him 3x what I had been payed but everyday my exboss was calling up for MY recipes. Go figure!!!!
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Old 10-23-2007, 08:47 AM   #10
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" Could you all give me a "day in the life" of a Chef? I mean an honest working day, no "fluff" or exaggerations please. "

I'm not a Chef, but my sweetie is. When I'm there in November, (Thusrday to Tuesday)here is the schedule so far. This will be a typical week for him.

7:am, get up, get to the Inn, prep breakfast. When done, get the off site catering luncheon for 100 ready and into the vans. Prep lunch. Prep for private wine dinner. (The inn is closed for dinner that night) Check supplies and place orders. Should be home by 10pm.

Next day do it all again, except the off site luncheon. Do breakfast, lunch and supper, including Chef Tastings. Also prep for Saturday's on site wedding, and Sunday's something or other they have booked. Should be home by 10 or 11.

Next day do it all again, breakfast, brunch, lunch, supper. Check what needs to be prepped for the week. Should be home by 10.

Next day, back to do breakfast for room guests. Hopefully, we'll have the rest of the day off.

Somewhere in there he needs to do menus for upcoming functions, finalize his New Year's Eve menu, and make sure that Thanksgiving is on track. Work clothes will need to be laundered, and we'll have to go grocery shopping for us.

Next day I leave for home. And I call this a holiday!!
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