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Q:Hello, I am 22 years old and have been in the industry for a little over two years including culinary school. I feel like I have a lot to offer a hotel or restaurant but feel like I am underpaid and not given the responsibility I feel I can handle. Quite frankly I feel my job is very stagnant and easy. I guess my first question would be, what is a good salary for someone in my position and second, what tips do you have as far as the best ways to advance in a company? Thank you for your time.
Thanks for writing to StarChefs! We're always happy to help up-and-coming cooks advance in the industry. As for your first question, what exactly is your job position? It's tough to determine what a good salary is, since salaries differ so much among restaurants. Usually, you'll earn more as you gain years of experience, and it helps to stay with the same company for at least a year or two at a time.
If you've been at the same restaurant for at least 6 months and have not received a raise, privately speak to your employer to negotiate a raise. Be prepared to detail the ways you've grown since you were first hired, how you've helped the business, responsibilities you've taken on, and your plans to keep improving the restaurant and your own work.
For your second question, the best way to advance in a company is to show that you're ready for the next step up the ladder. If you feel you are capable of more responsibility, show it. Always get to work on time (preferably early), offer to take on more tasks, help train new employees, and use every chance to learn and improve your skills.
If you feel that your job is stagnant and easy, devote your extra energy to projects you find fascinating in your free time and continue to challenge yourself. You can then present those extracurricular projects as reasons you're worthy of promotion.
If there's an opening in the next tier up, talk to your employer. They may ask you to apply formally, but you'll still have an advantage over outside applicants. Employers like to keep their teams together, and often reward loyalty.
So yes, it can be hard to feel underpaid and underutilized as a young cook, but you can speed up your trip to the top if you show that you're ready for more responsibility and worth a higher salary. And don't be afraid to ask for what you want if you can back it up!
Good luck with your career building!
I have worked in the food industry for about 4 1/2 years on and off. I have experience as a line cook, waitress, bartender, hostess, baker, and cake decorator. I went to school for and got my diploma in pastry arts. I'm wondering with my experience and diploma, what can I ask for a starting salary at a casino? I have an interview with a casino and think I have a lot to offer and I'm a hard working person. I guess I'm afraid to ask for what I think I'm worth.
Thank you for your time and I appreciate any advice you can provide.
Thanks for writing to StarChefs.com. It can be nerve-wracking to figure out what salary you can ask for without over-reaching or selling yourself short. The money question might not even come up in your first interview, and it's usually considered unprofessional for the candidate to bring it up first. But you should have a salary in mind when the employer asks about your salary requirements.
Your starting salary depends on the type of food you'll be preparing, the location of the casino, and your responsibilities. Are you applying to be the executive pastry chef or a pastry cook? Will you be managing other employees or developing menus? Is the casino near a large city? Is the cuisine fine dining or casual?
According to our latest salary survey (read the full article here: http://www.starchefs.com/features/editors_dish/salary_survey/2007/index.shtml), executive pastry chefs with 5 - 8 years of experience at that level earned on average $43,600 per year. This number is just an example, though. You'll need to consider how much you your requirements based on your experience and what the job entails. As a general rule, the more responsibility and experience you have, the more you'll earn.
So don't be afraid to ask for what you think you're worth. If that's higher than the casino is willing to pay, they can make a counter-offer and you can negotiate. Be ready to provide specific examples of your accomplishments and skills to back up your request.
Good luck with your interview!
I am 17 years old and have just started college 2 years early (meaning i skipped the last two years of high school). I am planning on becoming an anesthesiologist by the time I am around 28-30 years old.
However, for as long as I can remember, I have had an extreme passion for food, especially baking (pastries, bread, and pretty much everything else a pastry chef creates), but I would not like to do it for a career. I just recently realized that one of my huge dreams is to go through the Associate's Degree Program at the Culinary Institute of America in New York someday. I do not want to change my career from anesthesiology to the culinary arts, but I DO want to get the full culinary education after I become an anesthesiologist.
My questions are:
1) is it ridiculous to go through all of that schooling just because I would love to learn it and not put it to use anywhere other than my own kitchen at home?
2) is it unreasonable to assume that, once I become an anesthesiologist, I will have the time and the money to go through the CIA?
3) would 30 years old be too old to be learning "just for fun"?
Thank You So Much!
Matt Anderson,A:Hello Matt,
Thanks for writing to StarChefs. Let's start with your last question first. No, you're never too old to be learning "just for fun." It's great that you know what you want you want to focus on in school and what you want to do when you finish. Keep in mind that the full CIA program will be a major time commitment, and you may need to take a leave of absence from work. That said, there are also plenty of night, weekend, and part-time courses offered at culinary schools across the country that you could attend while working.
Of course, you are the best judge of what will make you happy. We just wanted to make sure you know this course of action is possible. So if in ten years your dream is still to go to the CIA culinary arts program, go for it!
Good luck with school and your career!
Q:Part of my job application is to prepare some dishes in the prospective employer's kitchen. Do you have anything to say about this--such as preparation beforehand, what they will be looking for, etc.?
Thanks for writing to StarChefs. Congratulations on making it to the tasting stage of the application process. Only the best candidates for the position are asked to do this, so you can be proud.
You should plan the recipes ahead of time, and make them in your own kitchen as a rehearsal. Choose recipes you are comfortable with, and techniques that showcase your strengths. If you use any special tools or ingredients, make sure you bring them. And before you go, ask whether the employer plans to reimburse you for the cost of ingredients. Usually they will, so keep your receipts.
In tastings like this, the employer is looking to see whether your cuisine fits with their style, so do some research beforehand to find out what they usually serve. They're also looking to see whether you're confident in the kitchen, adaptable to new situations, and whether you can prepare a dish quickly, cleanly, and without too much waste.
Good luck with your tasting and the rest of the application process!
Q:I'd like to land a sommelier position here in New York, however, all of my experience was gained in Australia. The job profiles I've seen want two years of local experience. How do I get this experience without actually working with wine?
Thanks for your help.
John Wilkinson,A:Hello John,
Thanks for writing to StarChefs. You've hit upon the classic dilemma - it's tough to get a job without experience, and tough to get experience without a job. Never fear, it can be done.
Were you a sommelier in Australia? Do you have work history as a server, bartender, wine steward, or cook? All of this is good experience for an aspiring sommelier, true, but often restaurants prefer that you have experience in their own city to make sure you're a good fit for them.
When you apply for jobs, be sure to explain in your cover letter that while you do not have local experience, you have other skills and experience that make you a good fit for the position. If you land an interview and the employer isn't convinced, try asking whether they'd consider you for a more junior position, so you can still work and learn there.
If you're not able to land your dream sommelier job immediately, take a step back and try to find another restaurant position to get some New York experience. Make it known that you're interested in working with wine, and if you prove to be an asset to the restaurant, you may find yourself on the way up the ladder.
You can also find a restaurant with a wine program you respect and like, and talk to the sommelier or wine director there. Tell him or her that you'd like to learn more about what they do, and ask if you can take an apprenticeship or internship there at least a few days a week. You may not be paid, but you'll get a great firsthand look at how that particular restaurant works.
Good luck with your search!
Q:I have had to take several positions in the past 4 years so I could pay my bills/mortgage. How do I post this on my resume? I do not like the fact that I have had so many jobs, but I do not want to lie about them.
Candler Wilkinson,A:Hello Candler,
Thanks for writing to StarChefs! We understand your dilemma. You want to be honest when writing your resume, but you also want to put your best foot forward when applying for jobs. You can however, tailor your resume for each different job application based on the experience each job requires.
Include a section in your resume entitled "Relevant Experience." This will let the employer know that you've had other other work experience, but these were jobs that best prepared you for their company. So if you're applying for a line cook job, you'll want to include different experience than if you're applying for a sommelier position.
Keep in mind that when writing a resume, sometimes less is more, since you want to get straight to the point without distracting the reader. You can also mention briefly in an interview that you've had more jobs than listed on your resume. Employers rarely look down on hard workers!
Good luck with your job search!
Q:I have sent the wrong resume to the first 5 jobs. How can I resend my current resume?
Michael McCree,A:Hello Michael,
Thanks for writing to StarChefs. If you mean that you've posted an out-of-date resume to your Jobfinder profile, you can simply replace it with your current resume. That will be the resume the employer sees when he or she looks at your online application.
Otherwise, if you've applied via email or letter, you can send the correct resume and updated cover letter again to each job. Include a note explaining that you've updated your resume since you last sent it in, and ask them to consider your application using the new resume instead.
You don't have to come right out and say that you sent the wrong resume if you'd rather not. Just make sure everything on your new resume is correct before you send it out again. This mistake could even work in your favor, since it will keep you fresh in the employer's mind.
Good luck with your applications!
I am currently 6 months away from graduating from SCI LCB with a BA in culinary management. My question to you today is this.
Are there JOB's out there that want people such as me in their organizational chart?
I have been in the foodservice industry for 15+ years and will be getting that infamous piece of paper to hang on the wall in May 09. I am wanting a GM position with a company that will: for one be long-term and two have the benefits that I am looking for. I am not a spring chicken so it is important to me to be able to have that longevity with a company that is growing or looking for that positive, experienced GM to take the ball and be able to run with it according to their specifications. I have been involved in four major new restaurant openings and have consulted on a family owned bistro that is thriving today six years later, must have listened to me or at the very least are doing the right things. I have delivered food service as well and helped mom and pops with their menus when deciding on specials that was offered that month through the company. I know servsafe and most state laws when it comes to the Health depts.
Please help in pointing me in the right direction for employ.
Paul O'Neal,A:Hello Paul,
Thanks for writing to StarChefs. Congratulations on your upcoming graduation! It's great that you're already thinking of where you want to be once you finish your program. As for where to look for GM jobs, we humbly suggest you check www.starchefsjobfinder.com - it really is the most focused, professional culinary job board in the world. If you keep an eye out, you'll soon find your ideal job, and reading lots of ads will give you an idea of what most employers are looking for in their GM.
Besides that, ask someone in your school's career development or job placement office if there are any openings that fit your skills and needs. They can point you to an alumni directory, a job board, and contacts at local restaurants and hotels. Also, most culinary schools have a job placement program and will reach out to their contacts to help you find the job you want.
Good luck with your search!
Q:Hi, I have worked twice for a top restaurateur in Rockland County, NY, as hostess, both day and evening shifts. At the moment, I'm working for a law firm full time. What I'd like to do, is offer my services to this person, as an Events Planner/Coordinator, which is something that I excel at, putting events/parties together not only my own, but others. No, I do not have any schooling or training, but I'm good at it from soup to nuts! I'm a floral designer as well, trained as a florist by an excellent teacher and have done private weddings.
I want to propose this position, if he has an opening, but am having trouble putting together a great cover letter. Do you have any suggestions?
Thanks so much! And I left on good terms with this person and have been to his restaurants since.
New City, NY
Thank you for writing to us.
It's great that you have already worked for this restaurateur - that gives you the advantage of knowledge, since you're familiar with their cuisine, clientele, and management style. It's even better that you're still on good terms with the person.
Since you've already worked for his company as a hostess, you should start your letter by recalling the work you did there and any particular accomplishments. That's just to refresh his memory. You can write that you loved your time with the company and want to be part of that team in the future, and you could be an asset as an Event Planner/ Coordinator. Then you'll need to highlight what he doesn't know about you, namely your skills and accomplishments in the event field. Be specific about your experience so he'll have a very clear idea of what you can do.
If he doesn't have any openings for that position, ask him to keep your resume on file in case something opens up, or if he feels you'd be suited to a different job with the company.
Good luck with your proposal!
Q:I am 26 year old college graduate considering going back to culinary school to pursue a career in food. I love to cook but after waiting tables for 7 years, realized that I could never be happy working as a line cook. I was looking into small scale catering as I enjoy cooking but have a more meticulous tendency that might not be well utilized or appreciated in the kind of work large scale catering companies deal with. I've also looked into doing personal chef work but don't know if I could be successful running my own business. I'm an introvert and not that comfortable putting myself out there to do the necessary marketing. Help me please! I need advice. What kind of schooling would I need? Any food careers other than the ones I've mentioned that would seem to be a good fit???
Thanks for your time!
Britt Mallis,A:Hi Britt,
Thanks for writing to StarChefs.com.
If you are looking for a hands-on cooking career that will fit your meticulous style and introverted nature, you might consider becoming a recipe tester, a cake decorator, or a food stylist. These all require great attention to detail and independent work.
Ultimately, it's up to you whether you attend a culinary school, a food studies program or not, and what kind of career best suits you. It's good that you know from the start that you would rather not work in a restaurant or large catering company. That will help you narrow your career search, and you might find it helpful to make a list of things you would like and dislike about various restaurant jobs. Attend some culinary school information sessions to see which program is right for you, and ask staff and graduates about their experiences. Once you figure out what you want to do, find someone in that field and ask them about their work. You might even be able to start an apprenticeship, which will give you a clear picture of the daily details of that career.
Good luck with your search!