In regards to the restaurant business, I’m a total slut. I’ve been working in Kitchens for 27 years this summer and taking it “seriously” for over a decade . While working on this article I went through and wrote a list of every place I’ve ever cooked at. I’m at 108 and I’m sure there are a few gigs that I just don’t remember since after a while it all tends to blur together. Not only have I been able to get hired at this many places, often times I end up being the guy conducting interviews.
Honestly, I don’t know which I hate more. But I’ve gotten good enough to not worry about it and if I get fired, I can pick up a new place in a few days if not hours. I’m not promising you that this will land you your dream gig but it will help make you look like less of an ass.
Craigslist is your friend:
The good news is that the Restaurant business is a high turnover industry, even at good places. If you’re willing to work and you send out enough resumes, you will find a gig.
Have a resume:
This should go without saying but I’ve had enough people apply without a resume to feel the need to address this. I don’t need to know every detail of your work history or a full list of scholastic achievements, I need to know the basics and why you would be an asset. Even if you don’t have any Kitchen experience, if you make yourself stand out, I’m more likely to call you for an interview.
Do your homework:
So you get the interview, guess what the first question is going to be? “What do you know about this place?” If you give me a blank stare then it shows me that you are too lazy to take 5 minutes to look the place up and see what you’re getting into, thus far too lazy to work in my Kitchen. I don’t expect you to memorize the menu but at least make some type of effort to show you care.
Show up on time:
On time in the Kitchen is 15 minutes early. If you are late for the interview you have more or less blown any chance you have. Seriously, don’t be late.
If you’re going to walk in:
If for some reason you decide to walk in with a resume and ask for an interview you need to understand that the only times you ever want to do this are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 2-4. Any other time I’m going to be too busy to give you the time of day.
Be willing to stage:
You wouldn’t get married to someone you didn’t know (I did and we see how that turned out). Well, I’m not going to hire someone unless I’m sure that they are going to work out. All I ask is that you come in for one night, work with the crew and I and let us see if we’re a good fit. Of course I’m willing to feed you and throw you a few bucks for your time but if you won’t give me a night, I won’t give you a job.
Don’t bullshit me:
I hate to break it to you but chances are that I’m a lot fucking smarter than you. I have a nose for bullshit and the second I get a whiff of it I find the source. If you tell me that you worked under “Hot shit Chef” at “Hot shit Bistro”, I’m going to call them. I do my homework and I hate liers. I much rather you admit that you don’t know than treat me like I’m stupid and waste my time.
Keep an open mind:
I started in the dishpit when I was 12. Last night I spent a good hour in the pit when my guy got backed up, this was after a dinner service and before staying late to prepare catering orders. Point is that no matter who you are or what your title is, you are never too good to take out the trash, mop the floor or do whatever else is needed in the Kitchen. If you, God forbid, ever tell me that it’s not your job you can pretty much pack your gear and go fuck yourself.
With all this being said, the key to finding the right Kitchen is persistence, you will get rejected far more than you will find success but if you’re determined enough you will find you place. The Kitchen is not for everyone, most people can’t handle it and fewer can keep up for more than a few years. But for some of us it’s home, it’s our studio, it’s our temple. Respect that and you will find more than you can expect in the Kitchen.