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Starting My Culinary Career - Help

message posted 17-Apr-10 13:37:25
Hi, My name is Laura and I love cooking with all my heart. There is no doubt in my mind that I will become a chef. However, I have not done any courses and there are none in my area and moving out of my area is not an option at this point. What I want to know is, is it possible to become more than just a little cook in a little kitchen without doing a course? Can I rely on my skills and drive to move up the culinary ladder?

All advice would be much appreciated!
message posted 18-Apr-10 23:01:02
First of all welcome to the mad world of's the best job in the world, you eat like a king for next to nothing.
I do, anyhow!!!!!!
So you reckon you wanna cook? But, can you make soup without stock? Mirepoix? Bouquet garni...just some of the mind bending words the chefs would use on you and have your eyes spinning if you knew nowt!!!!
You really need college to learn all the terminologies and some you will even pick up from fellow students from other establishments..Then there's the cooking methods; and that is frightening, because the way things are going with molecular and all that cooking, sous-vide is back, and there's a hell of a lot of magic going on. Interacting with other chefs from elsewhere opens your eyes big time. Then you raise your game.then theres all that COSHH, Food hygiene, Food safety, Blimmin'Health and Safety and a whole lotta more gumph you got to get from college. How about you pay a shilling for an ounce, how much do you sell it for? Who do you cook for and why? What do you cook for what monkey and why? Then careers!!!!
And then the connections's who you know! What you know counts too, a lot!!!! Doors open easier!
Don't ever forget it's a very clicquey world, with amazing rapport, camaraderie....etc...they will also burst your balls in a split second if you consistently fk up! You need to learn things on your finger tips so that it is second nature......
Having said that, if you check with your local NVQ centre, so long as you are working with a chef who is prepared to train you on the job, the NVQ guys will come out to assess you every fortnight or so. Your chef will also have some input on this. Only thing is that you get to determine your rate of progress; and that means your chef must have a saint's heart. Believe you me!!!!!
If you take to working in a small shop that is limited in what they do, then you run the risk of not learning much. You need a place where they use as much fresh food as is possible, learn as much as you can in the shortest possible time. Be hungry, very hungry..... Avoid microwave kitchens.
Then, don't just sit on your arse: go to the library, read on chefs, follow up their work, write to some, ask them for inspiration. If you don't get a reply, persist until you do. Nothing fires up a chef better than a young one with fire in the belly!!!!
And then we will all come to your big dinner. No?
Good luck chap.

message posted 19-Apr-10 15:38:12
Thanks crazychef,

I really needed some decent advice and it got me thinking again. I have had another look and there is a course I could travel to which I think would be perfect, it has the cooking as well as the food hygene, etc all included. I also went out this morning and gave my C.V with covering letter to a bunch of restaurants for vacancies and offering to work voluntarily for the experience if there are no vacancies.
I'll also be off to the libary this week to research food myself!
Thanks for the advice, I needed it and I'm really going for it! I'll let you know how I get on!

Thanks again!
message posted 19-Apr-10 18:12:29
Now that the good stuff is out of the's the juiciest bits:
Thereís gonna be no social life if you want it that bad. Be prepared!!!
Others compensate for this with drugs, some with drunkenness to achieve a high that keeps them awake!
Just bear in mind that the after effects of these leave you dazed and somewhat in articulate of thought and slovenly of far reaching wisdom.
Some chefs are bitchy; some chefs will never ever teach you what they know-
And then they die with all that knowledge in their minds and there is no legacy-more fool them! Just learn them, know who your mentors are, know your goals. Set high goals. That way if you fall short, you still will be considerably high! Learn the techniques, learn the bullshit, but always, cook with the freshest of food and most accurate. The wacky on plates will come later.
But, most wacky on plates is just cardboard. Flavourlessless shite as opposed to real food flavour. So be careful how you choose to cook. Understand food, the cuts and uses, the science of it, the old methods, then the new methods, the chemical reactions, physical reactions, latent heat. Cook from the belly and with love from your heart. As crazy as he is, Ramsay is one focussed muthafkr!!!! Only then will you realise the truth about cooking. Focus on accuracy on the cooking and the cleanest, utmost and concise flavours, first and foremost.
And donít touch drugs! Or get seriously hammered. Because you will be shite at work and remain mundane and pointless.

Go get them tiger!!!!

message posted 19-Apr-10 18:48:47
Oh, by the way, don't ever give up.
Roll with the punches...dont feel dejected when you come across hell or have a bad day. Of course, remorse, and then get up and fight some!!!!!!
Grow some big bollocks, so to speak.
And you will be safe!!!!
message posted 20-Apr-10 13:21:25
That all sounds great and the good thing is I never touch drugs and barely ever drink, except a glass of wine on a birthday so I'm all good there! I'm prepared for the downs of it all and have no doubt that I will still thoroughly enjoy every minute of it. Thank you so much for a real answer. By the way, as of yesterday I'm in contact with the head chef in a nice spanish restaurant near me and I could be volunteering there very soon for a couple of weeks which is a great start! Just trying to sort it all out.
It's all up from here!
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