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Old 09-18-2006, 10:49 AM   #1
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Working in the food Industry

I know there are some folks here who work in the food industry, and this is just my attempt to pick your brains a little

In may I'll be graduating with a BS in an IT-major from Indiana University, but I'm not confident that I'll be able to find work in that industry, and I think I might have a little more fun working with food anyways. Other than as a line chef in a restaurant or maybe in a hotel, what other types of jobs are there in the food industry? I enjoy working in a restaurant kitchen like I do now, but the pay is only $7.00/hr, is that about the going rate for this type of work? If not, what would you say is the average? Do employers look for folks that have lots of experience in the industry, or would they rather see a strong education? Does a degree from a major university really mean much to employers, or would they rather see culinary school on your resume? Any other comments or suggestions?

Thanks!

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Old 09-18-2006, 11:14 AM   #2
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I managed a full service restaurant for about 10 years. We always preferred experience to a degree, not to say you wouldn't have had a chance with a degree. As far as positions in the food industry, there are many. If you really think that you can't find a position with your degree. I think I would consider being a server or bartender if you only make $7.00 per hour. Possibly you could gain more experience in the kitchen a couple of days a week and still pay your bills by bartending or being a server. The more experience you gain in any aspect of the food industry, the better off you will be advancing your career.
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Old 09-18-2006, 11:29 AM   #3
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Similar topic has already been discussed involving aspiring future chefs.
These threads might be also of your interests.

Career as a Chef?
Changing Career for food industry?

(I am sure there are more, with variations of titles...)

There are lots of folks with plenty of experience in this field here, I hope you will find all the infos and support alike, good luck!!
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Old 09-18-2006, 11:38 AM   #4
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Depending upon where in the country you are, the going rate for a starting Line Chef... even with some experience -- is $7 to $12 an hour. $12 would be in New York, but not always....

You surely need to get some back of the house experience before you spend any time and money on culinary school, though. Many schools require that experience for admission to their professional programs.

Even if you end up in some other phase of the food industry (such as a writer or teacher) you need the credibility that professional cooking experience brings to your skill set and knowledge.
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Old 09-18-2006, 12:46 PM   #5
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With the holiday season coming up, you might check with caterers in your area and also personal chefs do a lot of dinner parties this time of the year. Country Clubs need extra help now also. All places you can get your foot in the door and maybe when you WOW them, they'll keep you on in the new year! Good luck.
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Old 09-18-2006, 04:09 PM   #6
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If you can, look up companies like Sodexho, Aramark, Compass. These are three of the top Food Service companies world wide. Check out the sites. All will have career opportunities pages for posting and applying.

Without any prior dining service experience you can still obtain a position that can earn you a decent living. Starting hourly salaries are usually based on the position you hope to fill plus the location geographically. In the NYC metro area, starting salary for a prep cook is in the $9.00 vicinity. These companies will hire a prep cook position, charcuterie, deli, grill, pizza position without previous experience.

Once you get your foot in the door and can dazzle the executive chef (Me) you can move up up up. Personally, I began in the pantry and worked up to this position, even worked as a General Manager at two accounts. Classes have been available to me to further my education and my career.

If you want to give it a shot, chances are very good that someone in one of those companies will give you a chance. Good luck.
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Old 09-18-2006, 08:59 PM   #7
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I think they would rather see culinery school on your resume and a list of all the restaurants that you were a cook at.

Good Luck.

Jill and Jolie
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Old 09-18-2006, 09:04 PM   #8
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Cooking is the of the iceburg when it comes to F&B. Sky is the limit. Everythng from styling to purchasin/inventory control. The business has many lateral side steps.
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Old 09-19-2006, 04:51 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shpj4
I think they would rather see culinery school on your resume and a list of all the restaurants that you were a cook at.

Good Luck.

Jill and Jolie
That's not true Shpj4. Most if not all companies in the foodservice business will always look at experieince as equal to education.
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Old 09-19-2006, 07:46 AM   #10
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I think Shpj4 was answering this question...

"Does a degree from a major university really mean much to employers, or would they rather see culinary school on your resume? "
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Old 09-19-2006, 08:10 AM   #11
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I depends on who you ask, I personally either want a very well trained person or a completely ignorant person. The worst is someone who THINKS they know what to do and then you have to break them of bad habits and train them to do it your way. If i hire a sous chef, i want to know i can take a night off and not worry about everything. If i hire a cook, i prefer them to be young, i like building cook up and teaching them what i know, i want someone who says"no, i don't know how to do that, but if you show me i will" as opposed to someone who says "yea, i can do that chef" and they really can't and i have to clean up their mess" Experience is the most important thing, culinary school is NOT cooking in a busy restaurant everyday.
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Old 09-19-2006, 08:26 AM   #12
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You may well be able to put your IT knowledge with culinary experience and or education to create a fine career for yourself! Follow your interest/passion.
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Old 09-19-2006, 09:33 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TATTRAT
Cooking is the of the iceburg when it comes to F&B. Sky is the limit. Everythng from styling to purchasin/inventory control. The business has many lateral side steps.
This is sort of what I meant when I mentioned my IU degree. I didn't know if the marketing/ordering/purchasing side of the business preferred you to have more of a culinary background or more of a business background.

Also, Thanks everyone for all the replies! That helps a lot. I really do enjoy my experiences in a professional kitchen, but I do have bills to pay. $7/hr is ok for now while I'm still in college, but it won't be long before I need to start looking for a semi-permanent place to live, and I don't think $7/hr will cut it for much longer. Especially now since I'm engaged, I want to have a comfortable lifestyle if at all possible.

I've though about ways to combine my two interests, but other than creating a website of some sort, of which there are many already, I'm sort of drawing a blank.

I did have an idea for building an inventory tracker/organizer type system, along with a front of the house system for servers to order from, keep track of turnover and other data, etc. I don't know of it exists already, but I thought it would be handy for an owner/manager to be able to see how differerent dishes stack up against each other, either on individual nights, or over certain lengths of time, like a few weeks, months, or a year. This might help them decide if their menu needs revision,like if certain things consistently don't sell well, or you're only selling dishes that carry a low profit margin. I also thought it might be useful to keep track of everything you sell in a night for inventory purposes, to have a rough idea of how much produce/meats/etc. you need to order in the coming days.

I'm sure systems like I've just described already exist, though I don't know if they are custom built or sold as a package by a consultant of some low-profile corporation. Those are things I'll need to look into.

Anyways, thanks again for all the replies, I'm sure I'll figure something out! All else failing I can always start my own business of some sort.
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Old 09-19-2006, 09:50 AM   #14
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Micros had a system similiar to the one you are describing.
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