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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!

asked by Cait about 3 years ago
9 answers 8625 views
895f8b4e aba6 4d93 92f2 1117a886850e  france
added about 3 years ago

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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June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added about 3 years ago

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.

516f887e 3787 460a bf21 d20ef4195109  bigpan
added about 3 years ago

Keep your station clean.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added about 3 years ago

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.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added about 3 years ago

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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added about 3 years ago

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!

E6f5e079 1551 4472 bc70 dcc35a71edc2  110
added about 3 years ago

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.

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Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added about 3 years ago

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

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added about 3 years ago

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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