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Texas Culinary Academy, Austin, TX

By Shyjarf (Shyjarf) on Thursday, February 06, 2003 - 10:03 am: Edit

Can you tell I'm desperate? Now that I've got you reading and all joking aside, I DO need some input from those of you with vast amounts of experience in a kitchen. I've started to apprentice in a kitchen, I'm not a complete idiot and am getting to know my way around more and more, Chef seems to be very patient and takes time to explain everything. I can't say enough about the man. Initially, I had planned on staying until JULY or AUGUST at which point we were packing up and I was going to attend a Culinary Institute. NOW here's the thing: (and it's not the WORK vs. SCHOOL debate) One of the chefs in the kitchen told me yesterday that he was going to be leaving in JULY. It's a very small kitchen of 4 counting Chef. I'd REALLY REALLY like to be able to step in and begin working immediately. Chef had even made the comment in the past about how he likes to take on "projects" (kitchen staff). NOW, how can I let him know I'm serious about the position, show to him I'm responsible and capable and most of all how do I even broach the subject. Putting in time and effort is a given. But how can I get this man to take me serious? It would be 7 months of me working in his kitchen for free, so he'd have to realize I'm dedicated. All you great chefs out there...help me out? How do I get him to take me serious and how do I bring it up?

By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Thursday, February 06, 2003 - 11:04 am: Edit

"One of the chefs" is leaving. I would venture to say that in a kitchen with four staff, there is only one chef. What are the duties of the guy who is leaving; do you remotely have the ability to perform those duties?

If so, talk to the chef. Just approach him and tell him you see it as an opportunity and since it seems to be dropping in your lap, ask him if he thinks you can handle it with his help, obviously you do, ask him for the position.

If the chef isn't aware that the guy is leaving, talk to the chef about your ambitions and tell him you would be interested in anything that came open in the near future, emphasizing that you would be interested in staying instead of going off to school.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Thursday, February 06, 2003 - 12:34 pm: Edit

You can show you are responsible by beign responsible!
Be on time, show respect when they speak to you, always ask if there's something else that needs to be done, don't call out sick, try to learn something everyday.
If the Chef sees you are seriuos, he will be serious about you.
As to how to ask, just do it! He'll either say yes or no and you can go on with your life as it needs to go!
Good Luck

By Shyjarf (Shyjarf) on Thursday, February 06, 2003 - 01:34 pm: Edit

thank you for the quick replies.... at the moment, Chef doesn't know that someone is leaving. perhaps i AM jumping ahead of myself in regards to ability, but i am 100% committed and have been reading EVERYTHING i possibly can as well as cooking as much as i possibly can, taking home some of the restaurants recipes and techniques and trying them for my poor wife to try ("...a little salty!") and as i said, working for free for the experience (which I know I am getting the better bargain). i'll keep you posted. any other comments or direction, books to read, insight, ANYTHING, i'm open to as well as any (ahem) constructive criticism. been reading every cordon bleu book i can get my hands on, gastronomique, as well as a couple of professional text books. if i were to come to your kitchen, what else would you have me doing until the other person leaves?

By Kinglear (Kinglear) on Thursday, February 06, 2003 - 02:19 pm: Edit

Hold the phone!!!!! You are working for free? Unless you are under some kind of signed contract for a specific period of time in an unpaid internship--YOU AND YOUR EMPLOYER ARE BREAKING THE LAW! There is no such thing in the US as indentured service.
Do you know what would happen to you if you slipped on a greasy floor and ruptured a disk? Cut your finger off? Was burned by gas salamander that blew? You'd be swinging in the wind, my friend, responsible for all your own medical bills because you are not covered by your employer's workman's compensation insurance policy. If anything happend to you his liability insurance would not cover you either and make him vulnerable to severe penalties from the Department of Labor.
An agreement to shadow a chef for a day or two is one thing, working for free for any extended period of time is quite another. It opens the chef you like so much to all kinds of questionable liability, not to mention that the department of labor looks very unfavorably at arrangements such as yours.
My advice? Get your arrangement down in writing, have it signed by you, the chef and the restaurant owner. Keep a copy for yourself and make sure there is a copy in the chef's office.
Also, go to school. His way may be very, very good---but it's only one particular view of culinary craft. Acquire an arsenal of the basics, then work with a few other chefs, then develope your own style in the process.
Good luck, you sound like the kind of guy who will do very well.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Thursday, February 06, 2003 - 04:39 pm: Edit

How do you know he's in the US, this is the internet right?

By Kinglear (Kinglear) on Thursday, February 06, 2003 - 05:25 pm: Edit

I assumed Shyjarf was in the US based on turns of phrase, particular to Americans, that he uses in his posts. Of course, that's an assumption. He could be an American working in another country for all I know. However, if that were the case, I doubt he'd be posting his question at all.

By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Friday, February 07, 2003 - 12:03 am: Edit

Kinglear makes good and necessary legal points. My question is a little more theory-based. Working free for a few days or weeks to prove your potential and dedication -- or even for a few months in a school-sponsored externship for credit and a grade -- is one thing. But 7 months just to prove your dedication? Dedicated is not the word I would use. Passion and legalities aside, this is a job, you are adding value to that kitchen and helping that chef make his money, and at some point short of 7 months you deserve to be paid for it.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Friday, February 07, 2003 - 09:31 am: Edit

Nobody should work for free!!! If you want to see someone work, pay him/her for the day!
What's the big deal? If they suck, you spent a few bucks to find out! If you don't find out now, it will cost you more in the long run.
If you don't pay them, you may run the risk of them calling the labor board if you don't hire them. Sure, it's not a big issue but, you'll have to spend some time defending yourself.
In the US, I'm referring to!

By Shyjarf (Shyjarf) on Friday, February 07, 2003 - 09:35 am: Edit

Simmer down everyone! A little more information to clarify things. Yes, I am in the states as is the restaurant. When I initially contacted Chef and asked about coming into the kitchen we discussed quite a few things:
1) I am 32 and am changing careers COMPLETELY
2) I go in a few hours every day (roughly 12 hours a week) so i apologize if I gave the impression that I was putting in 12 hour shifts.
3) I completely understood and have no qualms about working "at my own risk" and Chef and I have a signed agreement stating such. My "real" job affords the time and health coverage, so that isn't an issue.
4)The reason the time frame was/is close to 7 months is the fact that at that point Wife and I had planned to move. I wanted to get as much "real" experience under my belt as possible.

I thank you all however for bringing up so many different points and views, which is EXACTLY what I need to hear. I've NEVER worked in a kitchen and considering Chef is one of the most recognized individuals in the field in this city, it was and is an opportunity I'd be foolish to pass up. Keep the comments coming...

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Friday, February 07, 2003 - 09:45 am: Edit

What city are you in? If you don't mind!

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Friday, February 07, 2003 - 06:47 pm: Edit

yea, and who is this chef and whats the name of the rest.?
how come nobody ever says this stuff until it's asked????????
Jeebus! it's like pulling teeth around here sometimes.
whats the big friggin secret?

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Friday, February 07, 2003 - 07:11 pm: Edit


By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 06:50 pm: Edit

ya ask, ya beg and what happens?
kids today,....whadyagonnado????

By Shyjarf (Shyjarf) on Sunday, February 09, 2003 - 11:31 am: Edit

Kids today..? Not even close! but thanks for the compliment! Actually, I've been terribly busy and have just gotten a chance to reply. I'm in Cincinnati, OH. That's all I care to say out of courtesy and respect of the privacy of the restaurant and Chef who has been kind enough to let someone with absolutely NO kitchen experience into his kitchen. Surely, you can respect that. And a little information about myself (although I thought I had included this) I'm 32 making a career change so again, I appreciate the input, everyone.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Tuesday, February 11, 2003 - 04:04 pm: Edit

32, thats still a kid.
don't be in such a hurry.
since your in Cinn., a good friend of mine is the Ex. Chef at the Omni Hotel
eat there, say hi, he's an amazing Chef and one of the best I've even known.
tell him Spike said hello.

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