Jamie Oliver

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#1 Fri 24 Jun 05 3:57pm

Jamie

Chef
From Fifteen Restaurant, London
Member since Wed 24 Mar 04

Can you give me any top tips on getting started as a chef?

This is another question I get asked a lot...

I was about 5 years old when I started cooking in a professional kitchen. But don't be put off by my head start - it means nothing. I,ve seen 30 year olds become true chefs in 5 years.

1. If you are a kid or a student - get a weekend job in a restaurant, pub, fishmongers, butchers etc. All of these are really valid and, as the years go by, try and move on to something different or a more challenging restaurant.

2. Use the summer holidays as time to get a work placement or a ôstage" in a really exciting hotel or restaurant. Whether it's for a week or a month,  you will get a real feel for the kitchen and the way a team works together. After this you will know if you can handle the job, the hours, the money and the ups and downs that happen in a high-level pressured kitchen. I've never heard of any head chef who's refused an enthusiastic stranger on the end of a phone the chance to come and do a stage for free. It's quite common and charming for it to happen to any chef and you may find yourself with a good job offer at the end of it.

Having done those two things, you then have three options to consider:

(a) go straight into a professional job; jump in at the deep end  - you may  not have enough skills but being bold might be enough to carry it off

(b) go to the best local college for catering and do a two or three year course that focuses mainly on cooking, but also one that gives you an insight into the science of cooking, French culinary language, as well as the front of house, management and accounting sides of the business. This is what I did and I enjoyed it but found that it lacked the real feel and vibe of the kitchen. So I made up for this by working during holidays and weekends in restaurants, which gave it a balance.

(c) find your best local college and arrange to do day release over two or three years. I've always thought that this is a really good idea - you can get a full time job which challenges, inspires and pays you with their full support and often helps financially to go through college one day a week. 

Just to finish off - it really is down to you. There is nothing that you can't achieve with hard work, passion and a real commitment for cooking. Read as many books as you can get your hands on. I used to save up and go out for a posh meal with my fellow chefs every five weeks for a bit of education. Try and work in other countries for authenticity.  Do this and you will be laugh I'm by no means a don of cooking but I love what I do and I do it properly with passion - and that will always shine through. So get stuck in, get cooking and good luck!

Jamie O xxx

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#2 Fri 24 Jun 05 11:25pm

adele

Member
Occupation Aprentice chef!
From England
Member since Sun 15 Aug 04

Re: Can you give me any top tips on getting started as a chef?

hey, i set up another fourm on this subject...all us younge ppl who have come on the site ave a gud gossip about catering jobs, food and the latest cookin stuff!
we would all love ya 2 come n say a hello to us all!
keep up the good work mate and see ya at the bbc food show later on this year  lol
All the best
adele xXx

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#3 Sat 25 Jun 05 12:21pm

Chanr

Forum champ
From Melbourne
Member since Mon 14 Mar 05

Re: Can you give me any top tips on getting started as a chef?

Jamie...
Thanks for your advice. I'm a student and was very confused as to how to start becomming a chef. But thanks to your post, I see a clear path. Like Adele, I also look forward to hearing form you.

All the Best!
Ruby

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#4 Sat 02 Jul 05 1:58pm

Future Chef

Member
From England
Member since Sat 02 Jul 05

Re: Can you give me any top tips on getting started as a chef?

Hey yeh thanx J wicked advise but i do have one question. Did you ever do school competitions against others or anything like that when you were young coz ive dun loads and won most of em but i cant seem to get off the chilish level. coz im 14 and everyone seems to think that i can only cook simple things but i have done and can cook anything you chuck at me.Does anyone have any advise on how to get notised when only cooking for your school. either they think im a total idiot or their right. does anyone do school competitions.

By the way this is my first post so bare with me.
luv ya fellow chefs zo x

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#5 Sat 02 Jul 05 2:07pm

Chanr

Forum champ
From Melbourne
Member since Mon 14 Mar 05

Re: Can you give me any top tips on getting started as a chef?

Hi Future Chef

Welcome to the forums!big_smile

I'm only 14 as well. I'm probably in the same situation, except that I don't go into any competitions.  roll

For your situation, what I reckon is that in your spare time, or in holidays, apply for a temporary job in a cafe/ restraunt or something and work for free. What you do in that time is to show those people that you're serious and see if you can knock up with a job in the kitchen then eventually approach for a pay. I mean, you have to start somewhere... Ask Adele, she has a great story!   wink (By the way, read Jamie's post up the top. It seriously helps)

Looking forward to hearing from you!
Ruby

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#6 Tue 12 Jul 05 7:58pm

arurka

Member
From Estonia,Tartu
Member since Tue 12 Jul 05

Re: Can you give me any top tips on getting started as a chef?

Jamie will you give us a job at Fifteen? lol
P.s i`m only 15! And i want to become a chef!But i can`t cook like Jamie does!  :cry:

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#7 Thu 14 Jul 05 6:44am

Prowl

Member
From Edmonton, Canada
Member since Thu 14 Jul 05

Re: Can you give me any top tips on getting started as a chef?

Hey there,

It's really exciting to see some one with a lot of experience and success as Jamie saying even some one older (and trying to switch careers) can get into the industry. 

I've decided to really go for it myself, I'm enrolled for culinary school in january '06 and I'm looking for a starting job in the industry.  I'm hoping that getting some experience before going to school to get things moving for me faster.

One thing I really recommend to anyone looking to get into the field is learning as much as you can (from books, TV, other people...etc) and cooking as much as you can.  I know it seems obvious, but it really helps me keep my focus on my goals.

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#8 Thu 14 Jul 05 6:03pm

Prowl

Member
From Edmonton, Canada
Member since Thu 14 Jul 05

Re: Can you give me any top tips on getting started as a chef?

Just an update.

I just talked to a manager at a local resteraunt thats hiring, and i think i'm going to get an interview for a kitchen position.

This would be a great boost to my fledgeling cooking career!

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#9 Wed 27 Jul 05 3:12pm

Toothpick

Member
From Australia
Member since Mon 04 Jul 05

Re: Can you give me any top tips on getting started as a chef?

Im female, only 17 and completing year 12, in the past two years i have completed Cert 1 Hospitality (Kitchen Operations) and City & Guilds Food Preparation and Cooking and also have worked as a kitchen hand. I want to become a chef and want to get as much experience in the field before starting an apprientiship. what can i could i do after year 12?
Thanks heaps  big_smile

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#10 Mon 15 Aug 05 12:57pm

saltedm8

Forum champ
Occupation Website designer
From Kent, eng
Member since Fri 11 Mar 05

Re: Can you give me any top tips on getting started as a chef?

i went to my local pub and offered to work for free at the weekends but to no avail,
the guy could see, and mentioned my passion for food but he still said no because they are fully staffed ????   :cry: 
they had full time and offered me that, but i already have a full time job and the last thing i need to do is to quit and then find that i am no good in a working kitchen, i have rent to pay....  :cry:

p.s this was the only place in my local area that i think serves real food, i do not want to go into a kitchen and just microwave...   :twisted:

any advice would be welcomed
        thanks   roll


I design stuff, here is some of it: http://saltedm8.deviantart.com
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