Welcome to part two of our “Take Her/His Job for a Day” series. This week, Baker Creative interviewed a chef at an upscale restaurant in Columbus.
This chef did not attend any schooling for cooking, but was trained and worked hard to get where he is today. He is 24 and from southern Ohio.
Once again, we will not be releasing personal or company names
Baker Creative: “What is your primary job role and a description of that job?”
Chef: “My role is a chef and I cook in different sections depending on where I am needed. I can cook pasta dishes, run the fryer or the grill and cook appetizers. I mostly work in the pasta station, which is the highest station you can work at aside from being a kitchen manager.”
BC: “What are the top three challenges of your job and how do you deal with them?”
Chef: “The biggest challenges are not having the proper staff, stations being incorrectly set up and fellow cooks not participating the way they need to. I try to pick up as much slack as I can and when I see another cook getting overwhelmed I go and help them catch up. Basically, when I have to deal with this [challenges] I end up doing it myself. That is all we can do as cooks.”
BC: “So how do you think you help the business grow?”
Chef: “I am a certified trainer so when a new cook comes in I train them, which helps the business grow. Also, if someone seems to be struggling, I show them tricks or something that can make their job a little easier. Making sure the food a is quality product for the guests gets them to come back.”
BC: “What do you think the staff takes for granted?”
Chef: “Some of the servers and managers don’t seem to appreciate the hard work. We are standing in over 100-degree air and with so many of us in the kitchen, it gets really hot. Working in that heat can get exhausting. I also think people take my kindness for granted. Some of the cooks are not as generous as I can be and they think we [cooks] are all alike, which isn’t true.”
BC: “What do you think are the top two things management could do to improve a chef’s life?”
Chef: “Staff properly on the busy nights. They mix together the talented chefs and the not so talented ones, which is fine, but the way they do it makes some of our jobs harder. The managers could also work on keeping the flow of the kitchen a bit smoother. We have a back kitchen that preps the food and washes the dishes and then us, the front kitchen, that cooks. Sometimes those two sections are off beat which throws everything off.”
BC: “So what if budget were not an issue, what two would you want to perform your job better?”
Chef: “ I would want more staff hired for the weekends when we are the busiest. I would also like them to remodel the whole kitchen to make it larger. There are a lot of cooks in the kitchen and the space is very tight so we end up burning each other and getting in each other’s way.”
BC: “Last question. How does your contribution make a difference in the restaurant?”
Chef Cook: “Well, since I am very well trained I can cook almost everything which helps when another chef needs to take a break. I am also quick to get the food out quicker to the servers, which makes the guests happy. If I were slow and did not pay attention to detail I would either be disliked by the servers or not be employed here.”
Being a cook is more than just flipping food in the air and wearing comfy pants. It is hard work.
Thinking about going to culinary school? Here is some advice that may help with that decision:
- Ask the institution you are thinking about attending to sit in on a class or ask to sit close to the kitchen at the next restaurant you eat at. Some restaurants have the kitchen visible so pay closer attention to what is going on back there.
- Connect with a chef somewhere and ask their advice about the profession.
Interested in learning about a career? Comment on our blog or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org