Thursday, May 24, 2007

Career Path Fork; Left or Right?

A few years ago, I was in this career rut. I just moved to Sacramento and was just working part-time and the other 50% of the time I tried to "find myself". Corny and cliche, I know :) I went through a barrage of career tests. After about a month, I had it narrowed down to ER doctor, HS science teacher and cook.

I finally decided on HS science teacher. I figure I could help struggling students and make a decent living. So I started to study for the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET). As I started to study basic science, chemistry, astronomy and earth science I realized one thing. Teaching erosion for the next 20 years is something I did not want to do. The basic sciences do not change and I get bored semi-easily.

So after about a month of studying I decided to look into becoming a cook, then maybe a chef. I started in intern at Cascades in Roseville. The restaurant closed down a few years ago. How I chose this restaurant, in the middle of nowhere, I really cannot say. It was very interesting, was it like Kitchen Confidential? Well, almost. If I told you everything now, what you you have to look forward to?

That's all I will say for now. For a more mundane view, you can check it out here.

If you are seriously looking into a career in cooking, check out the rant below, I copied it, I did not write it.

Got this rant from a long time ago

Thank you for applying, you want to be a cook huh?

No you say, a chef? OK then, here's the MINIMUM BASICS I expect you to know.

Each of these skills you will be required to perform rapidly, under pressure, within a set time frame, in a team environment with minimal supervision.

  • You must work in a safe, organized, clean and sanitary fashion with little to no waste. These skills I expect you to perform with complete competence and understanding of proper technique and procedure.

  • Ability to dice, slice, chop, julienne, carve, brunoise, peel and turn standard fruits, vegetables and proteins.

  • Knowledge of grading, butchery and cooking techniques of beef, pork, poultry, fish and shellfish.Ability to bake, broil, boil, saute, braise, blanch, grill, steam, stir fry and roast primary cuts of beef, fish, shellfish, pork, poultry and vegetables.

  • Know what can be baked, broiled, boiled, sauteed, braised, blanched, grilled, steamed, stir fried or roasted...and what can't.

  • Know when a food is cooked enough.

  • Know when a food is cooked too much.Know how long a food is to be cooked.Knowledge of dairy products, fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and pastas. Stocks, demi's, remi's, fumes and glace.

  • The how's and why's.The 5 mother sauces and those that aren't; purees, coulis's, jus's, essences, foams, ect.

  • Sanitation and hygiene: Safe temperature zones, holding times, cross contamination, basic foodborne illnesses, receiving and storage applications, pest control.

  • Knowledge of nutrition.

  • Full service, working experience of ala carte pantry, grill, saute and expedition.Knowledge of salads.

  • Knowledge of salad dressings - vinaigrette and emulsions. Ability to prepare steaks and roasts to desired doneness by internal temperature, time or feel.

  • Service of hot food hot, cold food cold, and all that implies.

  • Strong garde manger skills to include but not limited to hot and cold buffet/platter presentations, center piece art work and hors d'oeuvres.

  • Basic baking and pastry skills.Write, execute and delegate mise en place and prep lists. Menu development, costing, testing, training, set up and execution.Read, create, write, calculate, adjust and tweek recipes.

  • Knowledge of basic first aid.Safely operate and maintain slicers, mixers, robot coups, buffalo choppers, convection and conventional ovens, tilt kettles, flat tops and steamers.

  • Interview, hire, train, evaluate, organize, lead, discipline and motivate a staff of your peers.Understanding of food costs, inventories, scheduling, payroll, P&L statements, marketing, ordering and receiving.Understanding of labor laws to include equal opportunity employment, workmans comp, sexual harassment, employee discipline and termination procedures.

  • Let me ask you, did a book give you this knowledge? Yes, some you say.

  • Did your 2 year AOS give you this knowledge? Yes, some you say.

  • Great, please go over in detail your experience and expertise in each area I've listed that qualifies you for the chef's position.....I thought so.

So ends the rant. lol.Not to be taken too (cough) seriously.