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Old 02-03-2014, 12:25 PM   #1
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ISO help w/Essential Professional Preparedness

So I just moved to NYC and quit my job and am putting all my eggs in my basket of pursuit. I want to work in a kitchen and my plan is to go into a bunch of fine dining restaurants in Manhattan and ask to stage and train for free.

I am hoping that I can find a chef willing to take me under his wing. Since I have just about no formal kitchen experience, I was wondering if the wise people on this site could go over some essential kitchen terms and lingo I should know before stepping into a professional kitchen. I am trying to be as prepared as possible.

Also any other plan of attack recommendations would be much appreciated. I don't really have any mentors or guidance so I'm winging it my way, which may not be the right way.

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Old 02-03-2014, 12:47 PM   #2
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I suggested some time ago that you practice your knife skills - slicing, dicing, julienne, batonnet, allumet. Have you been doing that? Have you bought any of the books we suggested?

Knowing the lingo won't help if the chef can't tell you to dice 10 pounds of mirepoix without having to show you how to do it. They don't have that kind of time.
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Old 02-03-2014, 01:46 PM   #3
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IMO if you try to fake it you will fail. I would be honest and take whatever job they will give you with the idea that you will be taught the skills needed to move into other positions.

Honesty and hard work will put you on a more solid foundation than a few flashy terms like pan, stove or knife!

Don't be in such a hurry to "make it", life is about the journey. Relax and enjoy it.
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Old 02-03-2014, 02:02 PM   #4
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Two words, Culinary School. I have never been to NYC, but with all the fine dining restaurants there, it has to be the equivalent of a culinary meat grinder when it comes to jobs. Even if you haven't got your "chops" yet, IMO, you will need some formal training. I'd hate to see anyone set themselves up for failure from the get go. Again this is my opinion.
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Old 02-03-2014, 03:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
I suggested some time ago that you practice your knife skills - slicing, dicing, julienne, batonnet, allumet. Have you been doing that? Have you bought any of the books we suggested?

Knowing the lingo won't help if the chef can't tell you to dice 10 pounds of mirepoix without having to show you how to do it. They don't have that kind of time.
I also remember going over this with you some time ago. Specially in a place like New York, you need to be on your game to even be looked at for a position. If you truly don't want to go to school, take a job as a dishwasher or busboy. Then watch and listen as the cooks work. They see the potential or lack of quite easily and you may get some prep-cook tasks thrown at you (washing and peeling potatoes, prepping lettuce for salad, etc.) when the dishes are slow. If you are good, you will progress. If you complain that you want more, you won't. I know this through personal experience and some young people I know. I did go to culinary school but I made it into kitchens before that by just watching quietly and being ready when the right opportunity came.
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Old 02-03-2014, 03:24 PM   #6
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Don't be in such a hurry to "make it", life is about the journey. Relax and enjoy it.


Words of wisdom right there.



But we are talking about NYC. Now!!!!!!! is important to the instant information age.
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Old 02-03-2014, 05:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
I suggested some time ago that you practice your knife skills - slicing, dicing, julienne, batonnet, allumet. Have you been doing that? Have you bought any of the books we suggested?

Knowing the lingo won't help if the chef can't tell you to dice 10 pounds of mirepoix without having to show you how to do it. They don't have that kind of time.
Yes I have, my knife skills have gotten a lot better. My technique and speed has increased
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Old 02-03-2014, 05:50 PM   #8
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Yes I have, my knife skills have gotten a lot better. My technique and speed has increased
Great. How about the books? It seems to me that if you had bought one or two and have been studying them for the past six months, you'd have some of the lingo.

You really can't fake your way into this. I saw a post where you said you worked in a Philadelphia restaurant for two days. Why only two days? What happened?
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Old 02-03-2014, 06:35 PM   #9
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I have been reading the professional chef by the CIA. Going over some chapters that I find more useful than the others as I am not experienced.

So I staged at Fork in Old City with Chef Eli Kulp. NYC chef who moved to Philly for the job. Great chef.

This was probably 8-10 months ago and I was a completely different person with different ideals and goals at that time. I was younger in a mental psyche kinda way. I have really found my way in the past year and developed a lot of character and vision. But, to answer your question of what happened... I just didn't show up anymore. I was physically tired and didn't know if it was for me.

So looking back on it, it was one of the biggest mistakes I have made. I could have possibly gotten a job from it and been a lot better off now. I could have gained valuable experience that I need now.

But I made this post because I moved to NYC for this sole reason. I am very driven now. I know where I want my career path to go. Back then I was dilly dallying and not looking at the big picture.

For instance I moved here a week ago. I transferred my job (Whole Foods- Bakery) They scheduled me for overnight shifts. I worked one night, said to myself hey I didn't come here to bake and put frozen food in an oven, I came here to learn, expand and develop serious culinary knowledge. So I quit after my first day. (kind of a reoccurring problem I have ha ha.) But that night put things into perspective for me. Like I said I want to be a cook not a baker. The only reason I decided to transfer was to have a steady income. I told myself before moving that I would leave Whole Foods once I got situated in NYC and found a kitchen job. But I have $12,000 saved up to stabilize myself for at least a year, which is how long my lease runs. So I said to myself this is the time to do it. Work your ass off, show enthusiasm and motivation to chefs and someone will throw me a bone. It may be a dirty lousy bone. But, I am an infant newborn in the profession. I have to take what is given to me and fight for better opportunities. If I can train for free, it'll be my schooling.

So I have spent a lot of my time inquiring about jobs on craigslist, mentioning I will stage and work for free. This week I am going into Manhattan and hitting as many restaurants as I can daily til I get some bites.

I already had one sit down with a chef and he offered me a night of training, even after I told him I had no formal experience blah blah blah. Ultimately he called me back telling me he filled the position before I could train, but I still found it as promising that the first chef I went to speak to about a position saw my desire and motivation to learn and was going to give me an opportunity. He also mentioned he'd keep me posted if anything opened up.

So all in all, I am in a trialing time in my life and in my career path. But I feel like I am in the right city and personally ready for everything coming my way.
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Old 02-04-2014, 12:25 PM   #10
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I gotta say you have balls. To just up and leave, to quit your job after one night and plan to live off $12,000 in NYC for one year.

No, I see nothing wrong with you're approach.
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