Wondering what its like to work as a cook in a restaurant? Start with Part One of this article

5. You won’t be rich tomorrow

Restaurant work

Quick dinner break.. I’m sitting on a case of frozen wings, eating off another case of frozen wings held up by a garbage can.. Classy!

As with any industry, you have to start at the bottom on work your way up! Unfortunately the restaurant industry takes quite a while to work up the ranks! Of course once you work your way up to sous-chef, or even Chef, you could end up with a very decent salary depending on the establishment! What can you earn as a line-cook though? That depends on your experience. You’ll very likely start at minimum wage (or very close to it). Its a lot of work, long hours, and not a great amount of pay. As you work your way up (better restaurants, different sections), your pay will increase. A cook working in a salad station will not earn as much as the cook making the steaks. As an experienced line cook, in a high-end place, on the most demanding sections (and if you’re good) you could likely earn anywhere around $20-$30/hour, however in most restaurants, you’ll likely be in the $12-$16/hr range.

Some restaurants have tip-share as well. The cooks will get a portion of the tips the servers earn. This doesn’t happen everywhere, but I would say most do it. This could add anywhere fro 50 cents to $1.50 per hour of work to your earnings.

6. You never stop learning

Recipe in resturant

Follow that recipe!

Every restaurant has different sections on the line. From Salads/Apps, Sides, Seafood, Grill, Sautee, etc, there is a lot to learn working in any particular restaurant. Each section comes with their own techniques and requirements. It can take years to learn every section in one restaurant, and it can take even longer to get good at each of them. Not only will you learn from the Chef/Sous-Chef, as you get to know your fellow co-workers, you’ll learn from each of them as well. As a line-cook you pick up techniques, tricks, and trips at every place you work. As you work with new people, you teach them, and learn from them! Its a never ending process, and if you enjoy cooking, you’ll really love it.
7. You get picky at other restaurants

break at work

Break Time! (Finally..)

When you’ve spent years ‘perfecting’ your technique, and learning how to make your food taste great,you start to get a bit picky when you go out for dinner. I’ve made mistakes making food and ‘yelled’ at by my Chef. So I make sure not to make those mistakes again. When I go out to a restaurant, and I see those same mistakes being made (and this is what I’m paying to eat…!), you start to enjoy it a bit less. This won’t be true for everyone, but as your standards as a cook start to go up, you’ll start looking for better and better food when you go out to eat.
8. An incredible sense of satisfaction

beef wellington

Gordon Ramsay followed me on twitter because of this picture. Said it “looks amazing, well done!” Great feeling!

When you make something that looks incredible, and you put it on the plate right before it goes out to the guest, you have a tiny moment where you smile on the inside. Its a good feeling when you see something YOU made go out, and you’re proud of how it looks. It’s an even better feeling when the server comes back 10 minutes later and tells you the guest LOVED their food.
When you’re really passionate about what you’re making, and you put in your best effort to make it the best, and you nail it, is a great feeling.

Getting a compliment from your Sous-Chef or Chef is a great feeling as well. I’ve cooked a steak and put it on the plate and the Chef or Sous-Chef has said “Damn! thats looks GOOD”, it really makes you smile. It makes you strive to hear that every time you make anything. Its the same as a perfect golf shot. You hit the ball perfectly, and it lands exactly where you wanted it. You can’t WAIT until you do it again.

The same is true when you do poorly. If you have food come back, its upsetting. It really makes you try harder and do everything you can to get those good comments back.

That’s a quick look into what its actually like working in a restaurant as a cook. If you have any thoughts or questions, leave a comment below! Remember to follow @SeeRecipe on twitter and on Facebook.com/SeeRecipe to get all the latest!

fois gras

Used to love making Fois Gras @ Work. Always tried to make the next one look better than the last!