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Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?
Old 10-13-2006, 08:00 PM   #1
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Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?

Right now I'm working a crappy corporate job that is not what I expected it to be when I signed up a few months ago. I've put applications in to get an MBA, but school won't start until August of next year. I'm not sure I can put up with this crap until then.

So...I have always been interested in cooking, and I thought that maybe if I have 6 months off between quitting my job and before school starts, I could explore my culinary interest by working as a basic prep cook in a restaurant. Sure, it wouldn't be glamorous or highly paid, but it would keep a few dollars coming in, and would hopefully allow me to learn more about professional cooking. Is this a realistic option? Is there a downside I haven't considered?

The second question is, how do I find a "real" restaurant where I could see food that is more interesting than the standard fare that comes out of Appleby's or Chili's? Sure, I'm only going to be chopping vegetables and other basic tasks, but I'd like to do it in a real restaurant where I could pick up some tricks just by being around the real chef.
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?
Old 10-13-2006, 08:17 PM   #2
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?

Hmmm, if we are talking about a "real" restaurant as in with a named/famous chef, you will be competing with every poor journeyman schmuck who just paid 5 figures to go to a chef school for what is coloquially referred to as a "siht job." You can try, but it is not the sort of thing I would want to try.

How about a totally unsolicited piece of advice? If you are not inclined to suck it up and deal with the corporate muck until school starts, how about using the intervening time to revel in freedom and go do something. If I have one regret, it is that I did not deviate from trying to climb the ladder one iota more than circumstances forced on me. I plowed through grad school as quickly as posible at night while holding down a 6 figure (barely) job and then plowed into the CFA and a more challenging job. Now I have a couple of kids and I am playing breadwinner, so it will be years before I will be able to have more than a few days at a time to do...whatever.

You are a young guy with few responsibilities and low overhead (and some capital). Go gather some rosebuds while ye may.
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?
Old 10-13-2006, 08:22 PM   #3
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?

Listen to Brewer. Travel abroad. Have a good time. You won't get the chance again for many a year.
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?
Old 10-13-2006, 08:32 PM   #4
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?

cheeseburger! cheeseburger!

yeah, soup...sounds like you got lots of money to loaf for awhile....otherwise, why dont you just loaf at work if you are a short timer....
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?
Old 10-13-2006, 09:10 PM   #5
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?

Interesting ideas. But I don't have much desire to travel, and if I took more than a month off, I'd start to get bored and just waste my time watching TV.

Loafing at work sounds good, but 9 months is a long time to loaf, and everyone here is so tightly wound up about the most inconsequential things (that I'm in charge of reporting) that you get shoebeatings if they catch you loafing.

I dunno. I can't make any decision until I find out what MBA programs I'm admitted to. Another option would just be to try to find a regular corporate job that is with a better company, since that's what I plan to use my MBA for anyway, but I feel kind of shady taking a job for only 9 months if I know that I'm leaving to go back to school full-time.
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?
Old 10-13-2006, 09:17 PM   #6
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?

Interesting ideas. But I don't have much desire to travel, and if I took more than a month off, I'd start to get bored and just waste my time watching TV.

Loafing at work sounds good, but 9 months is a long time to loaf, and everyone here is so tightly wound up about the most inconsequential things (that I'm in charge of reporting) that you get shoebeatings if they catch you loafing. I would hate to force the issue of my departure by delivering "poor" performance, because that's not the kind of reputation I want to get, but maybe that's what they deserve for treating people this way. I've realized that the industry I'm in is great, but the function I perform is not what I want to be doing.

I dunno. I can't make any decision until I find out what MBA programs I'm admitted to. Another option would just be to try to find a regular corporate job that is with a better company, since that's what I plan to use my MBA for anyway, but I feel kind of shady taking a job for only 9 months if I know that I'm leaving to go back to school full-time.
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?
Old 10-13-2006, 09:23 PM   #7
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?

Dont let anyone stop you from trying to get a job that interests you. I would go to ten of the nicest restaurants in your town and apply for a job in the kitchen. Do that and I garauntee that you will get hired right away. Restaurants have high turnover and ALWAYS need good help. Go for it!!!
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?
Old 10-13-2006, 10:32 PM   #8
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?

Do I hear you correctly ? You have 6 mo. to try out "what do ya do all day" and you are going to waste it working

After a few weeks of de-compression , you will prob. find yourself in a different mind set.

Unless you need the money , dump the job. Just be sure you have medical coverage. And yes ,you CAN get sick or hurt even at your age.
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?
Old 10-13-2006, 11:10 PM   #9
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?

Quote:
Originally Posted by soupcxan
I don't have much desire to travel, and if I took more than a month off, I'd start to get bored and just waste my time watching TV.
You need to get past that attitude and rehabilitate yourself! This is a board with an emphasis on attaining FIRE and taking the rest of our lives off. You can do this, really, it's easy.
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?
Old 10-13-2006, 11:49 PM   #10
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?

What have you got to lose by trying? My guess is that if you take any job that requires minimal experience or credentials then you might not be treated with great respect. But if you are interested enough in the experience, you might enjoy it. Good luck.
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?
Old 10-14-2006, 08:58 AM   #11
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?

Quote:
Originally Posted by soupcxan
Another option would just be to try to find a regular corporate job that is with a better company, since that's what I plan to use my MBA for anyway, but I feel kind of shady taking a job for only 9 months if I know that I'm leaving to go back to school full-time.
I'd consider trying to find work closer to what you want to do after you get the MBA, and at a company you might be happier working for. It might give you more information about what you really want, and experience which will help you in your studies.

You might tell the employer your plans before taking the job. Maybe ask around about what is appropriate.

If you get lucky and wind up in a position you really like, you could delay going to school.


On being a prep cook--if this is your one true dream above all others, sounds good. Otherwise, maybe can do as a hobby.
Met someone once who apprenticed without pay on weekends at a French restaurant, learned from the head chef.

Could it be an issue where potential employers assume your story is BS, and you got fired and took the prep cook job to pay the rent?


If not travel for the 9 months, any other leisure way to spend the time, where you "find yourself" or do something else you might not have the chance to do again for a few decades? (volunteer work, personal enrichment, training, family, etc)
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?
Old 10-14-2006, 09:16 AM   #12
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?

From one who worked in restaurants (waiting table) while in school (MANY moons ago)......

The biz can be highly entertaining. It attracts all kind of people in all kinds of circumstances, so there's a high likelyhood of meeting interesting oddballs & wack jobs. It's fast paced (if the place is any good) & you'll work yer butt off for not much $$ (waityers make a LOT more than kitchen staff), but if you look at it as something fun to do for the short- term hell of it, it could be an experience you'll like. And the women are often very available so you might get laid in the bargain!
And you can always quit if you don't like it & then go travel for a while.
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?
Old 10-14-2006, 11:01 AM   #13
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?

Quote:
Originally Posted by soupcxan
I don't have much desire to travel, and if I took more than a month off, I'd start to get bored and just waste my time watching TV.
Umm, what are you doing on a "retire early" forum then?
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?
Old 10-14-2006, 02:17 PM   #14
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?

I thought I might waste my time watching TV, but instead I waste it online 8)

If you want to "go slummin'" for a few months--have at it. My younger brother worked as a sous chef for a while and loved it--other than the low pay and exhaustion. He sez being an entrepreneur is easier. And I don't regret my time as a restaurant hostess, nurse's aide, receptionist, and office clerk. It gave me understanding and empathy for low-wage women, plus I learned useful stuff.
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?
Old 10-14-2006, 09:38 PM   #15
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?

It is possible to travel cheaply (back-packing, hostels, etc.). You will be too busy to watch TV.

Read about it here:
http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com/

Consider the possibilities.
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?
Old 10-14-2006, 10:05 PM   #16
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?

Quote:
Right now I'm working a crappy corporate job that is not what I expected it to be when I signed up a few months ago. I've put applications in to get an MBA, but school won't start until August of next year. I'm not sure I can put up with this crap until then.
I hate to throw a wrench in the works, but I've just gotta ask you -- If you can't stand the "crappy corporate work" you're doing until your MBA program starts, why get an MBA at all?

Take it from someone who A) has an MBA from a top school, B) has had PLENTY of crappy corporate jobs -- NONE of which were what she expected them to be when she signed up, and C) is a LOT closer to 59 1/2 than you are. Corporate jobs are far more alike than they are different -- most of them are boring most of the time, and people will ALWAYS be "wound up about the most inconsequential things." Several years of this stuff adds up to -- CRAPPY!

You are very right about one thing -- loafing for the next 9 months is a very bad idea. Why? Because you don't have a single second to lose. IMHO you need to get that restaurant job NOW, if that's what you want to explore. And once you've done that you need to think about the NEXT thing you want to explore and go do THAT. (Not to worry about taking the first job and quitting in a month or so, restaurants change prep cooks the way you change your socks.) After THAT, if you still want an MBA, go do it, but plan on a THIRD thing to explore during the summer between years -- and don't get sucked into any corporate summer jobs because that's what everyone else is doing. The less corporate, the less mainstream, the less "traditional" the better.

Once you get that MBA and launch your corporate career (aka clap on the golden handcuffs, lumber yourself with the mortgage and car payment, etc.) it will be well nigh impossible to go out and search for something that really floats your boat.

The "downside you haven't considered" is 30 years of boring meetings spent staring out the window wishing you were ANYWHERE else. There are people who LOVE the corporate world, and more power to them. But I suspect (though I may be projecting here), that your unhappiness with the job you've got now is telling you something very important.

Ignore it at your peril.

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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?
Old 10-15-2006, 10:00 AM   #17
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Re: Work as a prep cook in a restaurant during time-off?

Here is another possibility:

http://biz.yahoo.com/kiplinger/06081...1_id.html?.v=1

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