search
Loading
|  home | feedback | help          
StarChefs
Ask the Experts on StarChefs.com

Ask the StarChefs.com
Career Experts

Got a resume question that’s keeping you up at night? Need help solving a recruiting dilemma? Maybe you’re thinking about beginning a career as a chef and need advice on how to get started. StarChefs.com’s Career Experts are here to help.

Whether you’re an employer who needs advice on boosting company morale or a culinary student interviewing for your first position, StarChefs.com’s Career Experts are ready to respond to your hospitality questions.

Submit your question and our team of tuned-in, turned-on industry insiders will tell you how to begin a job search, the best way to find new employees, or how to choose a culinary school.

Still got questions? Be sure to checkout the StarChefs.com’s JobSeeker and Employer newsletters every Friday where we’ll feature a current question and response from this column along with insights, tips, and tricks to make your career in the food industry really cook.


Ask a Question

Questions for the Career Expert?
Ask your question here:




Name:
City:
Email:
(Your email address will not be posted.)
 

Q:I received an email from Mr. Jamie Bill from The U.K. offering me a job, home, and a great salary. He's the food and beverage manager at the Hotel De Casta. He said got my resume from Chefshouted. Could this be a scam?

Denise,
Lynchburg
A:Hello Denise,

Thanks for writing to StarChefs. We just wanted to follow up with you regarding the question you posted about being contacted by a hotel recruiter claiming to be from the UK. We have not heard of a website called ?Chefshouted,? or a hotel called ?Hotel De Casta,? not even in a quick web search, so this may be a scam. Make sure you get proof he's operating a legitimate business before you proceed. And never give personal or financial information to someone you don't trust, even if it's supposedly for employment.

Best of luck in your career!

--by starchefs
--Starchefs.com


Q:I am trying to volunteer somewhere since I have been unemployed. I have a lot of talents but no money and I want to help. Where can I go to help?
Thanks, Jeanne

Jeanne,
New York
A:Hello Jeanne,

Thanks for writing to StarChefs! It's great that you want to use your talents to help others while you're unemployed. If you have culinary experience, you might enjoy volunteering at a local food bank, shelter kitchen, or with an organization like Meals on Wheels. For more volunteer opportunities in your area, check out http://www.idealist.org, a website that lists charities and non-profit companies.

You might also consider finding an internship or a stage opportunity at a company or restaurant you admire. Then you'll be able to keep learning until you find a new job.

Best of luck!

--by starchefs
--Starchefs.com


Q:I've been in a kitchen for about 20 years now, and I am currently looking for an Executive Chef position up and down the East Coast. I have done a lot of research on what chefs make in different parts of the country. My question is how do you answer the salary question without selling yourself short? Say I need to want to make 70k, but I wasn't aware a certain employer was willing to offer 80k. I assume it is easiest to overshoot, to leave room for negotiation, but what percentage should I overshoot by? Also, I don't want to scare anyone off by overstating my needs.

Tim,
Baltimore
A:Hello Tim,

Thanks for writing to StarChefs. You bring up a very good question. It's often tough to gauge the potential salary of a position if it's not listed in a job ad. There is no standard percentage to overshoot a salary request, though most people do request more than they expect to make.

If you're worried that your requirements might "scare off" an employer, there are several options. You can list the desired salary and note that is negotiable for the right job, or simply state that you prefer to discuss salary in an interview.

If you need to give a number but are still unsure of what the employer can offer, your best bet is to ask for a wide salary range. So instead of requesting 70k, write that you are looking for a salary between 70k and 80k.

In most cases, you do not need to provide a salary requirement number right away. Give this information only when an employer requests it, either in their ad, an interview, or follow-up call.

For more information on salaries in the food industry, look at our most recent salary survey.

Good luck with your job search!

--by starchefs
--Starchefs.com


Q:Hello,
My girlfriend is going to be finishing up school at the California Culinary Academy to be a pastry chef shortly and the last class she has is her externship class. She is very stressed about finding an externship so I took it upon myself to help her find one. Where should I start looking and do you know of any places in particular that are accepting externs? She is open to go anywhere in the world. I would love to get this huge weight off her shoulders any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Nicholas,
Fremont
A:Hello Nicholas,

Thanks for writing to StarChefs! It's great that you want to help your girlfriend, but since she is currently attending cooking school, she'll have better access to externship information. Most schools have a career services office that helps students and alumni find externships and jobs. The school will also be able to determine which restaurants and hotels have been approved for externship classes.

Otherwise, most well-established restaurants accept externships. If your girlfriend is interested in learning from a particular chef, she can contact the restaurant directly to ask for more information.

Good luck!

--by starchefs
--Starchefs.com


Q:If you're applying for a position in a resort hotel, and you are a culinary student, and the chef wants you to showcase your talents in his kitchen what is the customary amount of time you will be asked to do this? Also will you be paid for this?

Thanks

Jan,
Ft Lauderdale
A:Hello Jan,



Thanks for writing to StarChefs.com.



Congratulations on making it to this point in the job application process! The practical part of the interview is very important, but the structure differs greatly among different properties.



Usually, you'll only be in the kitchen for 2 or 3 hours to demonstrate your skills, and you will not be paid. Occasionally, you'll be asked to come in for a whole day to see how you fit into the team. You may even be asked to pitch in and do some prep after you finish your "showcase." If you work for the whole day, some restaurants will pay you for your time. But keep in mind that since this is part of the interview process, payment isn't guaranteed.

The time commitment and possibility of payment all depend on the particular kitchen, but you should work the details out ahead of time. Call the kitchen and speak with the person who set up this demonstration. Ask whether there's a set timeline, what you should bring besides your whites and knife kit, and which recipes and techniques you'll cover. If they confirm that you'll be there the full day, you can ask as tactfully as possible whether this is a paid day. But be careful, as this may come across wrong no matter how you word it.

It's safe to assume you'll be there at least 2 hours, and you won't be paid until they formally hire you. Count anything else as a pleasant surprise.



Good luck with your career search!

--by starchefs
--Starchefs.com


Q:Hi,
I am a Le Cordon Bleu graduate and have worked for hotels and restaurants for four years. However I work for a Canadian hotel chain and am looking to work abroad either in United States or Ireland. How do I go about working in another country and how do I get employers and hotels to take me seriously when applying for sponsorship? As well are there any hotels or restaurants that you know sponsor Canadian cooks?

Thanks
Matt Miller

Matthew Miller,
Guelph
A:Hi Matt,

Thanks for writing to StarChefs! First, let's address your concerns about working in another country. The type of visa you'll need depends on the length of your stay; if it's temporary, you need a work visa, if you're moving permanently, you'll take a different set of steps to apply for permanent residence or citizenship. More information on US work visas here: http://travel.state.gov/visa/visa_1750.html Information on Irish work visas here: http://www.dfa.ie/home/index.aspx?id=8778

Next, it's entirely up to you to convince a potential employer in another country to take you seriously. Don't worry, this is the same process you follow when applying for any other job! It's a matter of showing them that you are genuinely excited to work at their property, and that you can do the job and fit into their current team. You can approach the HR department at a hotel or restaurant you'd like to work at, and send them your resume with a letter of introduction. Write about why their specific restaurant or hotel is your first choice, and outline some of the skills you bring to the table. If you're the right person for the job, most hotels and restaurants would be willing to sponsor you.

Best of luck in your career search!

--by starchefs
--Starchefs.com


Q:Hello,
I am very interested in becoming a chef's personal assistant. I've worked in support Admin roles for 10+ years. I previously worked for a large restaurant corporation in Chicago (working one on one with the co's top chef's)and have recently lost my job due to the current economic recession we are all going through. I have an enormous passion for food, love to cook, read food magazines, and watch many of the chef t.v. shows that are out there. I would love to find employment where I can merge my administrative skills and passion for food all in one. Do you know of any firms or businesses that I could possibly contact to view this type of role?

Sincerely,
Jen

Jen,
Chicago
A:Hello Jen,

Thanks for writing to StarChefs.com! The economy is tough on everyone right now, but there are still jobs to be found. Kudos to you for using your recent layoff to re-direct your career.

We occasionally have positions like this on the StarChefs Jobfinder, so keep checking back. In the meantime, we suggest you use whatever connections you have to meet chefs and restaurateurs. You can also write a letter of introduction to chefs you admire and let them know that you're available and experienced should they need an assistant. As for firms or businesses to contact, there aren't many that specialize in this particular area. You can check with staffing agencies in your city to see what they have available.

For more advice on becoming a chef's assistant, check out this video of our Culinary Career Panel with Rachael Carron (assistant to Wylie Dufresne), Beth Aretsky (assistant to Anthony Bourdain), Kristen Gegnas (assistant to Charlie Palmer), and Christa Weaving (assistant to David Burke.

Best of luck in your search!

--by starchefs
--Starchefs.com


Q:Hello,

I know (or do I really?) that within the USA, the CIA is considered the top culinary school. Johnson & Wales is also up there.

However, what about outside of the USA? I notice that most of the best chefs have European (especially French) training. What are some of the best European culinary schools?

Thanks.

Miguel ,
Miami
A:Hello Miguel,

Thanks for writing to StarChefs.com.

It's tough to say which culinary school is best. Since they all have different features, benefits, and classes, it really comes down to personal choice.

In addition to the CIA and Johnson & Wales in the United States, there are also Le Cordon Bleu, French Culinary Institute, Institute of Culinary Education, and many other programs at colleges and universities.

In Europe, there's a wide variety of culinary schools, each with a different history and focus. Specifically, in France, there's Le Cordon Bleu, L'ecole de Cuisne d'Alain Ducasse, Ritz-Escoiffier, and Le Notre, among others.

It's been our observation that the school doesn't make a chef great. Plenty of great chefs have learned through practice and apprenticeships rather than schools. It's what that chef takes from the training, and how they use their knowledge that makes them great.

Best of luck with your career!

--by starchefs
--Starchefs.com


Q:I am 49 years old. Love to cook, doing most, not all, of the cooking at home. I can follow a recipe with very good results. I am not a chef. I worked in several restaurants in my younger days and would love to get started again, at an establishment under a chef staff. Not a chain restaurant. What is your advice to going into an establishment and getting started, hired? My career has not been in the industry or related at all. I have no problem starting at the bottom observing as I go.
Thank you for your suggestions.

Ron,
Dallas
A:Hello Ron,

Thanks for writing to StarChefs! Your enthusiasm and willingness to work are great. That's the key ? chefs are passionate about their work and prefer to hire cooks who love the kitchen life and aren't afraid to work hard.

Try checking the StarChefs Jobfinder for line cook jobs in your area, and send in a few applications. Be sure your cover letter is specific to each job, and make it personal. Write about why you want to work at that restaurant, that you're passionate about cooking, and willing to work to learn.

As another option, you can approach chefs at restaurants you admire. You can explain that you want to work to learn, and ask if they have any openings for commis or prep cooks.

Many restaurants also accept stages, short-term apprenticeships, and though you probably will not be paid for a stage, it's a valuable learning experience. The Chefs to Know book includes a list of chefs who accept stages at their restaurant.

Good luck on your job search!

--by starchefs
--Starchefs.com

[ Click here for more questions & answers ]

 

 Sign up for our newsletters!|Print this page|Email this page to a friend
 QuickMeals   Chefs   Rising Stars   Hospitality Jobs   Find a School   Wine   Community   Features   Food Events   News   Ask the Experts   Tickets   Cookbooks
About Us | Career Opportunities | Media Kit | StarChefs in the News | Site Map
Please help keep StarChefs a free service by displaying our button on your website. Click here for details.
  Copyright © 1995-2014 StarChefs. All rights reserved.  | Privacy Policy