The New Bakers Dozen
How do I get an appenticeship?

The The Bakers Dozen: How do I get an appenticeship?
By Rebecca on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 01:56 am: Edit

I wonder if anyone can give me advice on how to get an apprenticeship under a pastry chef. Currently, I am working for my Pastry/Specialty Baking Certificate in Seattle and am eager to start working in the industry. I know that I need to work under a master chef but I do not know how I should approach them. Also, are all apprenticeships are unpaid? I am putting myself through school and there are not enough hours in the day to go to school, work, and do an unpaid apprenticeship. I would appreciate any advice or input that you could give. Thanks!

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 08:02 am: Edit

Apprenticheship is a euphemism for slave labor, most apprentiships in my opinion take advantage of the student to do the menial jobs that no one else in the kitchen wants to do and neglect the true function of the "apprenticeship" and you wind up actually learning very little. I know, you are probably saying, "that's how it should be, they have to pay their dues". I used to think like that too, it happened to me, although I did not go through a formal apprenticeship program.
My best advise is, find a job, tell them your abilities and that you are really interested in learning and just find a descent paying job where they will also teach you. There is plenty of demand for good help, even with limited experience. On the other hand if you are a slacker, forget it, hit BK!!!

By chady2k on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 04:44 pm: Edit

Manny, I disagree with you. I took an apprentiship through the ACF and it was a pretty good expierence. The ACF was my biggest problem but that is a seperate subject. When looking for a job I made the Executive Chef agree in writing to train me. The Chef's agreed to evaluate me on a weekly basis and fill out hour sheets etc... Most were eager to help me out others plainly said no! I worked for the ones that said yes. The ones that said no wished that they had me now, humm go figure. Overall I was happy and it did give me a good background. Getting your training with well seasoned cooks and chefs is the only way to go. I now teach and my best training tool is "School to work" I send students out to work in places that have agreed to take students and train on the job. This get's my students ready for the "real world" much better than anyone in a class room can do. There are things that go on in the "real world kitchens" that sound surreal to ones that have not been in the trenches.Rebecca, I hope that someone will see that you can be of some assistance to them and pay you for it. Good luck!

By chady2k on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 04:58 pm: Edit

Keep in mind whatever you do you have to be the one with the initiative to get it done. I remember while doing my apprentichip I had to do lots of pratice on my own with my own money. My wife thought I was crazy when I brought home twenty five pounds of sugar home to practice making pulled sugar. It was a long night but I know how to do lots of stuff with pulled and spun sugar now. I blew the pastry chef's mind when I came to work and had him look at the pulled and spun sugar work that I had done.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 07:34 pm: Edit

Chad, I'm not saying they are all bad, but like you said you had to search and find one that would do it and, there are not too many out there willing to do it, it is expensive and time consuming for employee and employer. You also went about it the right way, you got it on paper and Chefs were willing to teach. Curious, what level students do you teach? When has the ACF not been a problem at one time or another? I will admit, they resolved my problem...eventually. There were too many non-food people in national!!! They are trying now though, with membership down and all.
I would like to talk more about Culinary Ed. w/ you, maybe in Educators forum?
I hope you are teaching the kids that beign a Chef is not like Emeril's, I get them all the time. Are they in for a shock when they find out they have to wash dishes and pots!!!

By chady2k on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 10:20 am: Edit

yes Manny I would also like to chat more about ed. I teach for a vocational training program that only accepts at risk youth ages 16-24. With this group of students there are issues that I must deal with before we can even get started cooking. ie.. behavioral , emotional etc... I'll get into that more on a seperate thread. Let me see if I can get into the educators form again.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 10:58 am: Edit

That is a serious job dude, my hat's off to you.
I know a girl down here in S. FL. that does that at J & W and you are right, it is a totally different arena. Looking forward to sharing experiences in the class, especially w/ the students you have.
I get one or two from boot camp once in a while but no major offenses, I would not let that happen w/ all the knives around in a kitchen

By George (George) on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 12:41 pm: Edit

I'll have to get Ralph Chandler CEC (ACF Gulf to Lakes, FL) in on this discussion. He works "on the inside" with inmates in a vocational program.

He left the program for a while and taught on the outside at a high school. He quickly decided to go back in because he found he had a better student base.

I sent him an invite hopefully he will join us.


By chady2k on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 12:56 pm: Edit

Glad you are here. What do I need to do to get into the educators fourm?I have tried to re-register but to no avail.....?

By chady2k on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 01:09 pm: Edit

My student base is great! I have 30 students all of the time and a waiting list that is about 2-3 months out. Students are not my problems at all. Working with our nations youth is very rewarding and they tend to keep me feeling like a teen. I tend to get very bored with the material, it being a BASIC program and all. I try to get them doing too many advanced things for my sake and they get frusterated. I really keeps things interesting when 75% of them cannot read or write and don't even mention math skills. We were making b.p. biscuits and the student had his mise en place for me to check and he had 17lbs of flour for a recipe that needed 3lbs? Where he came up with 17 anything blows my mind.Ha, the joys of teaching!

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 01:16 pm: Edit

Kind of a captive audience George.
The thing is the guys inside on this program are usually misdeameanor offenders and/or non violent offenders, never the less, things can always blow up at any moment. They are also trying to get gain time and/or time off for good behavior and positive involvement in the (prison) community.
It is still a dangerous situation but, I agree high schools can be worse, the students have too many rights and behave worse in some high school enviroments. The school I teach at was just an adult Voc.Ed. center and last year they built a high school and now it is a school of choice and I tell you, some of these kids are in for a rude awakening! They are generally good kids, just lazy and want everything handed to them.

By George (George) on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 02:32 pm: Edit


I could not find any registration for you (it could might not have been on my backup).

What type of error/problem did you have?

Please contact me off list (this is when it's appropriate)

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 03:36 pm: Edit

Chad, I have the same issues w/ the reading and the math. Some of the high school kids and adults have 1st and 2nd grade reading levels. Measurements are a killer sometimes for them to pick up, not to mention reading a recipe.
On the other hand Voc. Ed. was intended for this sector of students who could not hack it in academics, the thing is now we have to teach them to read and add in addition to teaching them to cook!

By chady2k on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 04:26 pm: Edit

Yes Manny the cooking is the easy part. Getting there is where we make our money.

By Panini (Panini) on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 05:51 am: Edit

Has anyone answered you question? You don't need to work under a Master Chef. It's like basketball. I grew up in the Bronx and half of the older guys that played BB for money were better that those in the NBA. You must be selective and not stay in any one place to long. Get the basics down and start to develope you own style. You goals should be like your business plan, where do you want to be in a year, 2 years, etc. This will give your employer teacher a better idia what to do with you. Do not be afraid to fast=track if you want to be management. Like cadys says some things you have to teach your self. I you are ever in this area ,Texas, look me up.
Good luck to you
PS most fo those prisoner stories are myths. Although you can easily get scr--ed if you don't do your homework.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 08:14 am: Edit

Excellent advice Pan! When you are learning, stay at a place until you have learned everything there is to do there, then move on.

By Rebecca on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 12:45 am: Edit

Thanks guys!
I really appreciate all your advice. Chefmanny, I have tried your advice and told them of my abilities and interests. I went to 18 restaurants, bakeries, and cafes in the last week. Half do not make their own desserts (one imports them from Italy), half require 2+ years of experience and none of them are hiring. There is plenty of work out there for cooks and chefs, but not in pastry. I knew it would be tough but in the end it will all be worthwhile. This has only reconfirmed my original idea that you have to know someone in the business to get in the business. Jeff, you know it's funny, everything you said is exactly what my chef/instructor told me when I asked him for a private meeting about my future. "Be selective, plan where you want to be", and as Chefmanny said "stay in one place until you have learned everthing there is..." Great advice, I will do this. Thank you everyone. I am glad to know there is more than one way to get out in the real world.
P.S. What is the ACF and how does it work?

By Rebecca on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 01:06 am: Edit

Alright guys, I finally went back through and read your messages about your students. If you think Voc. Ed. is bad, try a school full of military brats. Whoa! Talk about crazy. I was a sub. teacher and learning disabled teacher in Germany for American military dependants. My kids also had second grade reading and math abilities (in 11th grade), had babies when they were only 14 or 15, and did not care about breaking the law. I even tutored one kid that was 19 in the 12th grade, had an obsession with sex, and would be arrested if he entered the U.S. You know, I miss them a lot now. I know how you guys feel and I wish you the best of luck; but you know, it is all worth it when you feel like you can make a difference.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 12:57 pm: Edit

Rebecca. the ACF is the American Culinary Federation, it is the largest body representing and certifying Chefs around the world.
I used to be weary of the ACF, I still am but not as much now. They had the wrong people in their national office, (I mean non-food people) for the longest time and they really did not give a hoot about their membership, they are trying now though to get back on the right road.
I can't begin to tell you about my horror stories trying to deal w/ a non food person about certification. Thank God they put this gentleman (Robert Clarke) in charge of the certification program and it is turning around slowly but surely.

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