This is my journey as I return to school and work in a profession I once dabbled in as a means for funding an after college 7 year long ski trip...not as a viable career choice. I hope I entertain, enlighten and learn something from any readers I may attract.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Entry level

I started my new job last week. I am cooking at a catering company.I worked on 5 projects in as many days. Lots of repetive drivel.I scooped out red potatoes, played with phyllo, and resisted all urges to make any of the dishes "my own" I worked Sat night outside in the hot, humid Carolina air. I smelled like goat and was sweaty and filthy with crab - garbage juice . I had no energy for anything after the function ended. I f'ing loved it!!! It was the first time in a while I felt like I actually was doing something productive. I think alot of new grads would have hated it. I made close to 4 digits an hour (both sides of decimal point) I was required to contribute to a team led by someone with less education and about the same amt of experience as me. I had to perform boring, repetitive tasks any monkey could do. I had to keep up with what I put in the oven. I had to focus and was going to be very nicely held accountable for my actions. I already told you this is not a get rich quick sheme, right? I expected worse.
My rant is ready to be served.
It seems that recently I am hearing more and more about new grads who are extremely disillusioned about where a chef's career really begins. For some reason entry level is not where they are supposed to enter. Why? I am not sure. When I returned to school, I was there to get an education, not a damn thing made me believe I was ever going to start in any better a role most great chef start in...that of dish dawg. (insert affection you guys!) A diploma does not ensure a track it? Are you loyal to your employer? Do you show up on time ready to roll in any weather? Cool start, now can you peel vegetables? Great and no complaint so now let's move on. Here is another responsibility for you and another test and on and on. See how easy that was. Yeah, another aspect of your new career, it actually takes work. At the end of the night no rank is excused from helping clean up. Every place I have orked, chef and dish washer had whatever equipment was at hand actually using it for a common goal...going home. Yeah..that thing about teamwork. You will be working with folks who did not have the benefit of an education like yours. Guess what, after 8 years, Mr/Miss Less-educated is the sous chef. She is reliable, humble, eager to learn, has an endless supply of elbow grease, volunteers to stay late, and can kick your ass in a skills contest anyday. Sous C. is who you should emulate. This person has worked their way up and can show you how they did it. Calm down...Of course one day you want to be Exec, correct. But for God's sake, you don't honestly believe your diploma gives you the right to even circle one of help wanted ads looking for an executive chef? Oh, I see! You are here cooking until your agent gets the final offer from Food tv.You don't need to invest any part of yourself in your job because its just a job until soething better comes along. Yeah, I didn't go to culinary school to be famous, I actually went there to learn how to cook. I guess Julia Child and Jacques Pepin just trotted in and got to show our moms how to cook in their own homes. Yeah, neither really had experience, or much practical knowledge just degrees.
Fools! Please quit your endless whine fest. I am disappointed that you are disappointed. What other 2 or 4 year course of study guarantees a top post? None that I have heard of. Think of your time doing the work you think is beneath you as a sort of grad school. You are honing your skills. You are finding out the best way to work with all sorts of people kind of like a masters in human resources. You suggest a way to cut costs to your chef. Sounds a little like accounting. Your constant repetition of cuts has you that much closer to surgical precision. You get the idea. Everyone has to start somewhere. You just don't start at the top!!! Please quit crying about doing what people have always done. Work your way up! Earned successes are the reality. This is not an industry where you can fake it. Take time to listen and learn. I love my job. When I leave I will know that place inside and out. Why? Because that's what I am there to do. Work. It is a job. Go out there and prove yourself. Earn accolades, don't demand them. No role in the kitchen is below the greats that inspire us. They all did it too. What makes you so damn special?

Just my rant on the starry eyed work-phobic babies that went to school for all the wrong reasons and then bawl that the brochure lied.The only lying going on here is between you and yourself. Do your homework before you sign the check. Entry level is where you end up with your fancy diploma. If you can't stomach that, I don't trust your fish.

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