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The Best Career Advice for Prep Cooks / Kitchen Assistants

Kitchen Prep

Photo Source: White House / Sheleah Craighead / via White House Museum

Perhaps you are coming straight out of culinary school or perhaps you’re looking to make a passion for food into your career. Whatever the reason may be, it always helps to have career advice from actual people who have real-world experience in the industry and job you’re looking to get into. Reddit has a wealth of chef threads to ask and receive real world advice from chefs, kitchen managers, prep cooks, kitchen assistants, bussers and everything in between. Check out the best career advice rounded up for prep cooks / kitchen assistants as heard through this Reddit thread.

Be a Blank Slate to Mold

“Let the chef know you will do anything he asks and that you will show up every day on time, no matter what. Stress the fact that you are a blank slate for him to mold, and that you want to learn his/her way of doing things.” - b_random_b

Do Good Work and Help Keep the Kitchen Clean

“…Just come in and do good work. Clean the place in your down time. Put away and organize dry goods and produce. Consolidate containers. Ask about the food you're making and show interest. Be proud of your work, even if that work is shucking cases of chickpeas, peeling a bag of onions, or butchering some chicken.

If you're asked to do something you've never done or are unsure about, ask to be shown how they would do it.” – TyaedalisCook

Slow Down to Be Consistent

Slow down, if you're doing it fast and not consistent. You're doing it wrong. Speed comes with practice, I've seen plenty of prep cooks fuck things up trying to go fast. doing it twice takes longer then if you just slow down and do it right the first time. – Reddit User

Take Instructions Well

I know it sounds harsh, but think of yourself as another piece of kitchen equipment. Product goes in, prepped food comes out. You don't have creativity or any say in how things are done. Your job is to prep food exactly how you're instructed to do so by your supervisor.

Your reliability to do exactly what is asked of you is probably the most important aspect of a good prep cook. - bigpipes84

Take Time to Learn Exact Cuts

I'd say a combination of all other comments. Slow down and take time to learn to make exact cuts. You'll be able to speed up slightly in a week or so, and continue speeding up with practice.

Let him know that you work cleanly and in an organized manner. Never put something away without a label and date it was made. This will give your chef and other employees all kinds of headache and they will resent you for it.

Be punctual. Speed and efficiency will come, but it's the right attitude that keeps you around. - JustAtlas

Be Courteous, Willing to Take Instruction and a Fast Worker

I'm a chef. I've done hiring. I like experience in the line cooks but I'd rather have a blank slate with a great attitude than a culinary school graduate who doesn't clean and always takes smoke breaks. Be courteous, willing to take instruction and work fast. If you don't know something, ask. Stress that you like to cook and want to learn more. Things I look for on a resume are cleanliness and attention to detail. Also clean. Always clean. If there's any downtime and no more prep, just clean something. Do that on your first day and you'll make a really good impression. – dinosexed

Express Your Willingness to Learn and Willingness to Be Paid Minimum Wage

… Just express your willingness to learn. Be prepared to wash dishes. Be prepared for minimum wage. - DancesWithHippo

How to Get that Job?

Show up between 2 and 4pm and bring a resume/cv. Ask to speak to a manager (That's when the morning supervisor/kitchen manager/chef is usually winding down.) If you show up and it's packed, walk out and come back another time, because your resume/cv will probably get thrown in the garbage. Try writing a skills based resume with a short cover letter, you can find chef resume templates online. Stress that your really interested in the industry even though you don't have a lot of experience, don't lie or fluff anything up. Just be honest, eager, smile a lot and thank them for their time.

Edited: They might have a sheet to fill out and they might interview you on the spot if they have the time/really need people. - dinosexed

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