So you just graduated culinary school? They filled your head with thoughts of glamour and glory. Soon after you graduate you will be a “chef.” I hate to break it to you but it’s all bullshit. You will be hired to be a slave and it will take years of long hours and hard nights to be a chef. These days, culinary school is probably necessary to break into the business, but I would definitely work in a kitchen for a few years before you shell out a bunch of money. You will learn technique and terminology, which I can see the importance for. The purpose of this post is to make a few recommendations for your first job either after school or otherwise.
5 things not to do:
1. Do not show up to either your first day or your stage without knives. Nothing will prove more to your chef that you are not serious about the job. I’m not saying you need to show up with an elaborate kit full of tools but at least bring a chef knife. Probably a good idea to bring a peeler along as well. Because in all honesty, peeling loads of potatoes or carrots will more than likely be a major part of your day.
2. Don’t talk back or offer suggestions. The chef tells you to small dice twenty pounds of onions. He rolls back around in ten minutes and tells you to start again because they aren’t small enough. The most improper response ever would be “that’s what they taught us was a small dice in school.” Believe me, it has been said to me and nothing pisses me off more. You are not in school anymore and in this kitchen, nobody cares what you learned in school.
3. Don’t get fancy. You finally get a chance to help out in pantry during service, be humble and do what your told. Plate everything exactly how you are shown. You might have the same artistic eye as Leonardo DaVinci, but just put the food on the plate the same way as everyone else. After you do it the same way all night, feel free to go home and paint the next Mona Lisa.
4. Please don’t talk too much. The new guy who talks a ton and tells all kinds of stories about where he has worked and eaten throughout his life = the new guy who gets mad shit talked about him for the rest of his life. Trust me, you don’t want to be that guy. People will put crap in your drink and mess with you way too often. And you think your badass enough to retaliate? Don’t. Doing so will result in you and your stuff getting gangbanged by the entire kitchen crew.
5. Last but certainly not least I have a few uniform rules. Don’t wear your chef pants or chef coat outside of work. people will not think your cool because you are a cook. Do not leave your apron on when going to have a cigarette or take a piss. Buy kitchen shoes, those ten year old Chuck Taylor’s are not meant for greasy floors. You will slip and fall, and you will be laughed at, and that story will be told at least once a week for the remainder of your employment.
A couple of suggestions for you newbies. Show interest in learning, be humble, listen and take directions well and be on time. Being on time is at least twenty minutes before you are scheduled. You will probably learn more in those twenty minutes than you will in the rest of the night.
BONUS SUGGESTION: Don’t show up to your interview in your cut off denim shorts and your Dave Matthews Band concert tee shirt from 1998. Look professional, put on some clean pants and at least a nice button up shirt. Showing that you care enough to clean yourself up says a lot about you. You will be taken serious from the start. And besides, the Dave Matthews Band sucks.