The Great Hall
career advice The Great Hall: career advice
By Gayle (Gayle) on Thursday, April 25, 2002 - 04:38 pm: Edit

Hi, I'm new here and was wondering if any of you could give me some guidence.
I have recently left my job. I was there for 5 years and made a niche for myself. The problem is it was sort of specialised and now I need to redefine myself. I worked for a little Bistro. They make fresh pasta and a whole series of sauces which are served in the restaurant and also packaged for retail sales. I made all the sauces and all the pasta fillings. I also made all the soups and some deserts, did all the inventory for my area and all the ordering. I was a totally self contained unit! I also researched new equipment and products for the restaurant, got quotes, made purchases and did follow up. Organized equipment repairs...expedited...answered the phones..gave tours to school groups...basically whatever needed to be done. All with no supervision.
I am self taught, never went to school for any of this. Now I have some time and I'm eligible for unemployment and perhaps some training. I might be able to take a class or two at a local community college that has a culinary arts program. So here are the questions! First, how do I discribe myself to prospective employers? What kind of place is going to want/need someone like me? And what kind of classes should I take to bring it all together? My temptation is to look at baking/ pastry because that is something I would love to do but that may not be the best choice....any ideas?

By Chefgbs (Chefgbs) on Thursday, April 25, 2002 - 10:20 pm: Edit

Hi Gayle,

Seems like you did a pretty good job of describing what you did. Don't worry too much about the schooling. Plenty of people have done fine with on the job training. It's just that sometimes it takes longer to climb the ladder without that little piece of paper. What kind of place could want/need you? How about Italian restaurants, pasta manufacturers, or personal chef. Hell, where do you live? I could probably use you. But I don't understand your last sentence. Why would baking/pastry not be the best choice? As to what classes to take, you should decide what it is you want to do first and go from there. Hope this helps.

Ciao for now

By Chefgbs (Chefgbs) on Thursday, April 25, 2002 - 10:22 pm: Edit

By the way Gayle, welcome to the forum. Try to ignore the testosterone that flies regularly here. There are a lot of good people here that are always willing to help.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Thursday, April 25, 2002 - 10:43 pm: Edit

testost what?
Gayle, why do you say Baking/Pastry may not be the best choice. Give it a try. At least learn the basic's if you don't know them already. It always comes in handy.
But if you do, find a Pastry Chef that will teach you a certain amount every month, and get it in writting. Break it down to Baking, Pastry, Frozen,
(Bombs,souffle's,ect)(chefgbs favorite) and centerpieces( which is nougat,marzipan,choc,sugar,ect.)oh and the smaller
cat., of ala carte' deserts. A little info from each of these is always helpful.

By Gayle (Gayle) on Thursday, April 25, 2002 - 11:41 pm: Edit

Testosterone! I'm used to it, believe me. And I'm always the old lady in the restaurant so the "boys" are always trying to see if they can shock me....poor them!
I'm in Western Massachusetts if that helps...I'd be happy to apply!
I said Baking may not be the best choice because part of me thinks I should be very practical and consolidate what I have, find the gaps and fill them in. I don't think I'll have too much time allowed for these classes so I have to get the most out of it. I have two teens to support, one looking at college in the fall.And they eat more then I ever imagined.
On the other hand pastry looks like so much fun! Is it hard to find a good baker? Are they in demand? (I think what I mean is are they paid well and treated with respect?)

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Friday, April 26, 2002 - 12:42 am: Edit

Holy Christ NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!........
No respect, Not well paid.
Pastry is fun, but you have to decide what is right for you, and your bank account.
Take your time. There are plenty of good chefs around that would welcome you when you have made the choise.
( did I say that?)
I must be getting soft.

By Chefgbs (Chefgbs) on Friday, April 26, 2002 - 08:23 am: Edit

Hi Gayle,

Check out the conversation Chefspike and I had about this under "Psychology of a Picky Customer".
The sad truth is that with so many desserts that are available commercially, there aren't as many pastry positions as there are culinary positions. As far as the pay goes, it depends on experience and the place you work. Hotels will pay more than restaurants, etc. If you need to be home for your kids, check out corporate dining with a company like Compass or Aramark or Marriot. Most are Mon to Fri. The pay isn't great and not all of them have pastry programs, but it gives you more family time. But with teenagers, maybe you want to stay out of the house as long as possible. Respect? Depends on the "real" chef, right Chefspike? If they are any kind of decent manager, you'll get the respect. Western Mass, eh? I'm in Dutchess County, NY at a place called the MIllbrook Golf and Tennis Club. Too far away?
Let me know.

By Chefgbs (Chefgbs) on Friday, April 26, 2002 - 08:24 am: Edit


By any chance, were you working for Guido's?

By Gayle (Gayle) on Friday, April 26, 2002 - 10:38 am: Edit

Dutchess County is very nice. I live in Northampton. Small college town. Smith College is here and we are surronded by Mt. Holyoke, Amherst, Hampshire and U.Mass. I would truley love to work for one of the colleges but they don't hire too often.
Guido's? Hmmmmm....Where is that? Sounds like it should be in Springfield. The place I just left is called Fresh Pasta.
You're right about one thing though. Very few places do "scratch" cooking these days. One of the reasons I stayed with FP for so long was that they do.

By Thebaker (Thebaker) on Friday, April 26, 2002 - 04:54 pm: Edit

"(I think what I mean is are they paid well and treated with respect?) "

You sure dont go into the field if you want respect and good pay

its more like loads of fun and hard work.....
But thats just me..

By Chefgbs (Chefgbs) on Friday, April 26, 2002 - 07:24 pm: Edit

I think Guido's is in Great Barrington or maybe even Pittsfield, but don't hold me to it. They make some awesome fresh pasta as well as being a produce purveyor and retail stores. Anyway, their number is 888-484-3679.

By Esjay (Esjay) on Saturday, April 27, 2002 - 07:59 am: Edit

Gayle, Gayle, Gayle, ...............
I think you have answered your own question, ....
(I made all the sauces and all the pasta fillings.)
Have you thought of forming your own production company, you have the skill & knowledge of what people want, how many restaurants prepare their own filled pasta, what is the demand for a good hand made product, if you can convince the chefs that it is more economical for you to supply them, with a consistant product, .......... then you are on your way. It doesn't take much of a setup, obviously start with minimum equipment, a freezer, and packaging ( don't forget to include storage & cooking instructions)and follow up a few days after delivery. Sauces could also be in your range of products. I buy from a company that produces a good consistant product, rather than relying on my staff to "maybe get it right", and when you factor in labour costs, it can be more economical to "buy it in"
Start by supplying some samples to who you would like to have as your customers, think big, are there any large hotels in the area? function centres, they are who you should be targeting.
Do 2 ranges, a budget range & a Gourmet range, as you know Pasta is fairly cheap to produce, and can have a huge mark up, do some experimental "test runs" open a bank account and laugh all the way, Good Luck,

By Chefgbs (Chefgbs) on Thursday, May 02, 2002 - 09:51 am: Edit

Hey Gayle,

Where'd you go?

By Gayle (Gayle) on Thursday, May 02, 2002 - 10:40 pm: Edit

Hi! I'm here. I've been reading some of the older posts and stuff when I have time. It's been a hard week. My daughter is going off to college in the fall so I've had a slew of scholarship apps to get out for the first. And I had to bite the bullet and go get all my stuff out of my old job....*sigh* And it's allergy season to. I don't get them too bad but my horse does! So I am monitering her pretty closely. A 1200# horse that can't breath is not fun!

Add a Message

This is a private posting area. A valid username and password combination is required to post messages to this discussion.