Top tips for my first trial shift in a commercial kitchen?

I approached a great cafe asking for any kind of work that could progress into assisting their chef. They make meals for customers to take servings of home for dinner. I have no experience in a commercial kitchen (which they know). Does anyone know what I should expect, or have any advice? I know I can do it, but I'm so nervous!

  • Posted by: Cait
  • May 20, 2014
  • 12562 views
  • 9 Comments

8 Comments

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Catherine Lamb
Catherine Lamb May 20, 2014

My biggest piece of advice: be ready to work hard. Accept every task they give you, listen carefully, ask questions, and learn everything you can. Don't sweat it if you mess up little things -- you're human, and they know that! Just be enthusiastic and helpful, and you'll be fine!

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ChefJune
ChefJune May 20, 2014

I'm going to echo Catherine. It's a lot harder work than you think. Not very much like cooking at home at all. Reading your question took me back to my first day in a professional kitchen. I think I spent most of it keeping out of the way and washing dishes. My best advice is don't be nervous. Your chef had a first day, too.

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bigpan
bigpan May 20, 2014

Keep your station clean.

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spiffypaws
spiffypaws May 21, 2014

Catherine is spot on. I'm a professional and I can tell you from personal experience as a manager that a person w/ no experience with a great attitude is superior to a very exp person w/ a bad attitude. Don't be nervous about your lack of exp. If they are willing to take you on, you'll be fine; just pay attention.

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spiffypaws
spiffypaws May 21, 2014

One more thing: when someone yells, "behind you!" that's a warning that someone is passing behind you-don't back up. This will make sense when it happens, trust me!

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bugbitten
bugbitten May 22, 2014

Although my only experience is surviving a CIA Boot Camp, I heartily agree with all the excellent advice above. You can pretty much say goodbye to any sense of personal space, until you find a niche. I'd say try to get ALL your prep done early, so you can be rid of your cutting board, thus freeing your station for whatever else you need to do.

Also, work close to yourself when you prep to avoid a big backache. Good luck!

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bugbitten
bugbitten May 22, 2014

I forgot to say what I learned about carrying a knife from here to there in a pro kitchen...carry it point down and close in by your thigh, edge facing behind you. Also, don't let your knives get hidden under anything, that could be bad. When you lay a knife down, have the cutting edge face the work area, with no part of the knife protruding over the counter. Likewise, don't be shy to yell out to your fellows when moving anything hot. Probably a good first day is one in which you don't scald or cut someone, most likely yourself.

Nerves will rob you of energy, and you will hit a wall like I did at school. Nervousness is a defensive tactic, so go on the offensive instead. But be safe. Being safe is a technique of the offense, I found.

boulangere
boulangere May 22, 2014

Listen, listen, listen, and then listen some more. Best of luck to you.

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CarlaCooks
CarlaCooks May 24, 2014

All the advice here is spot on: listen, don't be afraid to ask questions, be safe, and get into the rhythm and lingo of the kitchen. I will add - wear comfortable shoes and bring extra body deodorant! My first day in a professional kitchen lasted 16 hours (a normal day): I was on my feet all day and smelled to high heaven by the time I got home at 3 am!

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