The Great Hall
The job market The Great Hall: The job market
By Thebaker (Thebaker) on Sunday, February 23, 2003 - 02:45 pm: Edit

I keep reading how there are no jobs out there, and people are haveing a had time finding work,

But where I work we have been trying to find a decent line cook for the past few months,
we where really stuck so we took what we could and are still looking , but since the guy we took is terrible it put a strain on everyone on the line.
you would think they would be lineing up to work...but nope

By George (George) on Sunday, February 23, 2003 - 04:07 pm: Edit

Line cook positions are very difficult to fill.

Unfortunately most culinary grads simply don't have the skills to work in a hard core line environment and the don't want to learn. They all want to start out as at least a sous, even though the suck as line cooks.

Most of the really talented (fast and consistent) line cooks in the NY metro area have Spanish as their primary language.

The best way to get a line cook is to grow them. Get the existing guys to bring in friends as dishwashers, pick out the ones that can work and train them and take good care of them. There used to be a good inflow of new immigrants but I think it has slowed.

Just one guys observations YMMV.


By Thebaker (Thebaker) on Sunday, February 23, 2003 - 04:14 pm: Edit

Well this position is not hard really

Its for lunch .
we do 50 to 60 for lunch
3 guys on the line
1 grill
1 saute
1 garde manger (me)

Im pastry and the hours and schedule where so good i took the garde manger job since the chef was willing to teach me

Mon/fri 9 to 5 sat sun off
paid by the hour with OT

i could not pass it up

By Flattop (Flattop) on Sunday, February 23, 2003 - 08:36 pm: Edit

Yer kidding right? I happen to agree with George. Line cooks are made not schooled. I was a breakfast joint line cook and talking to a few culinary student and prep cooks,most outright admited that they didn't want to deal with the pressure of being a line cook. The best guys we had were the ones that would get pulled from from dishwasher to help on the line during serious rushes. I would show them when time allowed and they were caught up, how to do salads and sandwiches and work them into it. They tended to work harder on both ends trying to get a bump up in pay by learning enough to become a cook.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Sunday, February 23, 2003 - 10:07 pm: Edit

As long as you know your craft there wil always be a job in this industry!!!!
True G, line cooks are hard to find but when a good one comes along, they get dumped on and they leave and/or get disappointed at the business.
It is easier to train someone with no knowledge on the line, then someone who thinks they know it all!!!

By Flattop (Flattop) on Monday, February 24, 2003 - 03:08 am: Edit

I loved being a line cook! The rush was as good as any buzz I ever had. Nothing like cooking my ass off and knowing that I was doing something that months before scared the living hell outta me when I first started. Damn I miss that!

By Kinglear (Kinglear) on Monday, February 24, 2003 - 09:01 am: Edit

How can a culinary student graduate from any reputable school and not be competant at line service? Getting great food in front of the paying customer is what this business (I must stress the word BUSINESS, here) is all about. I see this problem as a failure of all the culinary programs sprinkled about this country.
Where do these grads think they got their education--ART SCHOOL? I'm completely annoyed with people thinking they can create art without any competancy at the craft.

Hey Spike, take note.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, February 24, 2003 - 10:53 am: Edit

Believe it or not, there is not much repetition in school, there is very low volume and students come out thinking that's how it is in the real world!
I try to squelch that believe by trying to take them to places that have volume, maybe placing them there for a period of time.
Students today also don't have the work ethic many of us have/had when we started.
You ask a kid today to wash a couple of pots and they think the world is coming to an end!!!!!

By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Monday, February 24, 2003 - 10:57 am: Edit

I must be in the insane minority, but the pressure, the heat and the hard work under fire on the line is a lot of what attracts me to this odd profession in the first place. I've said it before, though -- my school is divided into those who want this and those who don't but think it's an easy profession (the majority, unfortunately).

On that subject: One of my best friends at school just started his externship at one sixtyblue, one of Chicago's hottest restaurants. He's 27, working hot apps, says that line is as hot as the fires of hell, and he loves every minute. They have another extern from a different school, 19, shows up late, leaves early, does the absolute minimum and does it slowly, couldn't give a poop about what he purports to want to do for a living. Both worlds right there.

By Corey (Corey) on Monday, February 24, 2003 - 11:21 am: Edit

same out here, you can graduate cooking school,
but that don't mean you can handle lunch in a local bar. You can have book learning, but you still have to earn your stripes, grease stripes.

By Chefrev (Chefrev) on Monday, February 24, 2003 - 04:25 pm: Edit

Steve: Ever hear that old saying: "You don't have to be crazy to work here, but it helps."? That's especially true in the food business.

For all: Yeah, you can get philosophical about cooking, but at the heart of the profession, and really any profession is what YOU bring to it. If you have a good attitude, want to learn and improve, and have even some skills, that gets noticed and rewarded (or exploited if you work for a jerk); mainly because those qualities are the exception rather than the rule anymore.

It's a rush to do 400+ on Mother's Day and kick butt doing it! IF you have the right attitude and goals to grow in the career you've chosen. That ( and some prayer?) will get you through most job stress and burn-out.

Plus, get a hobby outside work. Like pottery (ie.). Throw pots on a wheel and you might be less likely to throw pots at a waitron.

My .02

By Corey (Corey) on Monday, February 24, 2003 - 04:31 pm: Edit

ya, but the wait staff with still drive you nuts.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 03:40 pm: Edit

Spike took note.
It's unthinkable that someone could graduate, and not be able to "RUN" the line.
It's the same today as it was when I was doing it,
it's all in the set-up, and some speed helps too.
In the pastry shop if someone could not do lunch or dinner service, I'd kick their ass.

By George (George) on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 04:47 pm: Edit


Where did you go to school?

I have never heard of any school that offers a College Level degree, AOS or whatever that has the time or facilities necessary to give a total neophyte the ability to work a lunch rush in a moderately busy restaurant the first day they walk in, or the next day. AOS programs give education on many different areas related to the many aspects of the business, but students do not really learn how to DO anything. The get the basics and where to look to find anseres to their own questions. (If they are lucky)

There might be some union or straight trade programs out there that do a much better job at turning out line cooks (isn't there a Denny's Academy) but that's not what degree programs are devoted to.

The only school I have ever heard of that has a high percentage of graduates that could work a line the first day in a place is "hard knocks" or "experience".



By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 06:34 pm: Edit

Hey George those are my alma maters.

By George (George) on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 07:07 pm: Edit

I knew we went to the same schools, I just went to a fancy one later.

Along the same lines of my comments about "most of the line cooks having Spanish as their primary language" not too long ago most of the Exec Chefs at high end clubs here in LINY were guys that started as dishwashers, with Spanish as their first language and learned and worked and moved up to ran big clubs with no AOS. That is changing now however, now it's guys with Spanish as their first language with a degree in hard knox and a paper one in AOS Culinary arts.

I'm not saying which is better, just the reality of what you can expect to come out of even the best of the degree culinary programs.


By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Thursday, February 27, 2003 - 01:49 pm: Edit

George, I went to the Culinary Arts Program, at Schoolcraft College, in Livonia, Mich.
It's much bigger today than when I went, more students, much bigger kitchen.
We did learn how to run a line, there was lunch for the whole school, and we also did dinner parties where we offered a selection of items, a la' carte. It was part of the grading, as was the catering and banquets.
I don't think, and check what I said above, that I said we were taught how to run anything on the first day, anywhere. We were taught how to do a function from start to finish, weather it was, lunch, buffet, catering, banquet, a la carte, ect,ect.
There must be other schools out there that teach the same, No?
Don't schools today have a resturant attached to them? So that would be where some of these people learn how to run a line. Yes?
and if schools don't have a rest., what do they do with the food they produce?
Hope that clears it up.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Thursday, February 27, 2003 - 02:01 pm: Edit

oh and it was a 2 year program.
we got a culinary arts degree that the chefs organization in detriot considered to be as good if not better than any school in the country.
this school, before I started there used to take best of show at the chicago food show for years.
Robert Brieghtaupt, Director.
James Van Vuren, Cert. Chef Instructor, also taught at the Green Brier Hotel, West Virginia.
Robert Benson, Cert. Chef Instructor.
Lenard Stec, Cert. Pastry Chef, Instructor.
Herman Brieghtaupt started this school.
He was a Cert. Master Chef, and years later when he became older, worked for the Minors base company. He wrote books on nutrition back in the 50's,60's that people today are praising as way ahead of their time.

By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Thursday, February 27, 2003 - 02:30 pm: Edit

Spike, my school does have a restaurant, open for lunch Mon.-Sat., brunch Sun., and dinner Fri. and Sat. Students can either work there during their final semester or they can extern. I'm choosing to extern because in at school you have 12-15 students handling 50-60 covers on a busy shift. Where I'm externing 5-6 kitchen staff takes care of 300-600 covers on a weekend night. I figure the latter is more like the real world (because it is the real world).

By George (George) on Thursday, February 27, 2003 - 03:02 pm: Edit


Sure a lot of the programs instruct students the concepts behind running a line (at least ones with a restaurant) but as Steve says the experience gained is negligible, and only folks that went into a school with line experience come out with the ability to start performing on a hot line immediately.

Most employers start newbie’s as a back up in pantry, prep or as banquet cooks, there they develop the concept of misenplace and eventually develop speed and consistency to move up, or they make a career change after they realize that spot on the Food Network is a little farther away than they thought.



By Grwall (Grwall) on Thursday, February 27, 2003 - 05:14 pm: Edit

Culinary school is to give prospective cooks an introduction to the skills they need. Ain't no time to work them up to speed. Frankly you need to dig your way out of the sh*t a couple of times to get the speed up.

We work hard at trying to get our students to understand that when they graduate, they are still baby grunts and NOT management. Some listen, many will get in the pit and quit.

We just started including an externship - 8 weeks practicum in industry with all kinds of paperwork and supervision involved. It will be interesting to see the quality of students coming back to finish the program

By Sauce (Sauce) on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 09:43 am: Edit

I am starting to discover that the Apprenticeship programs (stagiere) are the way to go. They keep the good cooks in the industry and wash out those who can't hack it. It allows for restaurants to teach/train employees from the bottom up, and slow kitchen turnover (they are stuck there for three years until graduated).

However, it costs public money. So, it won't fly in the U.S.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 11:42 am: Edit

Robert, where are you?

George, yes that is true, but i think my school went the extra mile with me. i also had some diner exp. when i started, and that was very helpful.

steve, i think your right with that.

By Flattop (Flattop) on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 07:49 pm: Edit

Gee whizz I guess I totally forgot about apprentenceships. Lets see there are 18 approved spounsering houses in Denver alone. 8 more in other areas in colorado and that does not include the properties in Vail and Keystone that also are ACF approved which I believe would be about 12+ up there. so I guess it might just go over here after all.

As for and education costing public money show me one that doesn't. Actually it might be cheaper to the public because I have to foot my own tutition to be an apprentice. Some sponsoring houses do offer tutition assistance full or partial.
The problem with apprenticeships is that the public in general are not aware of them. Culinary schools are highly visible when looking for a culinary education. Had I known about them back in 90 I would have done it then instead of now.

By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 05:21 pm: Edit

There also is an ACF certified apprentiship program in Milwaukee -- I can't remember if it's the Milwaukee Area Technical College or the Waukesha Area Technical College. Great for someone out of high school, not so good for an old fart like me who's got to pay the mortgage.

By Mbw (Mbw) on Monday, March 03, 2003 - 10:56 am: Edit

The question is

Q: "How can a culinary student graduate from any reputable school and be competent at line service?"

A: They can't.

It is all about time in the trenches. Right? Only if they had a GREAT externship, or were VERY involved with the schools hot line, will a student come out with any real "hot line" cooking skills at all. Sure some of you noted a few exceptions, but consider this; every hot line is different (save Burger King etc.) so even the decent students have to adjust to doing things differently every time they walk into a new kitchen. Have you ever met a graduate that thinks there is only ONE way of doing things? I think you have. Compromise or die.

The customer suffers: Not always. Many Graduates will give extra time and attention to your food at the expense of food costs, production, whatever. The Upper middle class, and rich know this well. Many a young wannabe chef/caterer has fallen prey to a clever host that can get a full service lobster dinner for $25 a head.

As for being competent, an experienced leader can fix all of that, and time, lots of time.

MBW <--- misses the hot line. I am going to make up a fake resume, and get a diner job.

By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Monday, March 03, 2003 - 12:03 pm: Edit

MBW is right, I think, but there's more to it. A friend who recently started his externship at a very highly regarded Chicago restaurant, and he said he was surprised at how quickly he was able to hold his own on the line (like, by the end of his first shift) because he was able to apply the skills he learned in school in a real-world environment.

Here's the take-home point (as the docs I write about would say): It's true that culinary school does not give anyone true line experience, but a good school gives its students the proper skills and tools to succeed on a line rather quickly -- if they're willing to put in the effort.

- Steve

By George (George) on Tuesday, March 04, 2003 - 10:54 am: Edit

“but a good school gives its students the proper skills and tools to succeed on a line rather quickly -- if they're willing to put in the effort."

Really depends on the ability of the individual.

Some folks try real hard but just don't have the eye hand coordination, stamina or memory that it takes to be a good line cook. Doesn't make them any less of a person, it's just not for them.


By Flattop (Flattop) on Tuesday, March 04, 2003 - 07:13 pm: Edit

George while I agree that the line isn't for everone, I really think that it is more of a mental thing than anything. Being on the line is intimidating as hell when your new, especially if you've never be in a real working kitchen before. One look at the circus of line cooks and the speed they worked at scared the bejeesus outta me when I started on the line. I hadn't been so exhausted as I had that first week, not since basic training. But it was the rush is what hooked me on wanting to be a chef, as much as if not more than cooking itself.

By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 08:24 am: Edit

You're right, Flattop, but I think that sort of proves George's point as well. The rush is the thing for you and me, but I think of someone else like, say, my wife. All that rush would do is stress her out to the point where her head would explode. She's just not cut out for it. Then again, she teaches special education kids in an environment where I'd last exactly six minutes before running screaming from the building.

If there's one thing I've learned in my little 16-year career odyssey, it's that everyone has something they're good at and passionate about, and if they're not doing that for a living then they are cheating themselves and those around them.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 08:48 am: Edit

Perfectly put Steve, that's why I'm not a brain looks too much like sweetbreads and I would cook it!!!!

By Chef2you (Chef2you) on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 10:35 pm: Edit

While I love to work the line (as well as any other part of the BOH), I would rather train someone to work the line with me (a dishwasher) as opposed to getting a new manager who has never been on a line before and knows everything.

Add a Message

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