Posted May 17, 2012 by

Interview with a Chef

I am a chef in the food service industry. I have been in this business for ten years.

My job is essentially creating delicious dishes and making sure my kitchen runs smoothly. This involves ordering all of the right food for these dishes, hiring great staff, scheduling staff correctly and being available in the kitchen. People tend to have a generally good idea of what I do based on the myriad of television shows on my profession at the moment. One thing that I do not see enough of are dirty chef coats. Chef coats do not stay clean. Cooking is a messy job. If a good chef comes out to your table wearing a clean chef coat, it is because the coat was changed specifically for your benefit.

I would rate my job satisfaction a 10. I would not change a single thing about it.

Working in a kitchen is definitely something that requires a lot of heart. The entirety of the job relies on caring about what people consume in the dining room. I know that every dish that leaves the kitchen is going to be consumed by people who have paid their hard-earned money to eat what I have to offer. I have a very strong passion for this and it is certainly at least one of my callings in life.

Some chefs go to school to learn to cook. Some chefs get training from great chefs. Other chefs still combine school with experience. For me, it was all about experience. I never could have learned to cook if I was not thrown into a kitchen with a demanding kitchen staff. Proving yourself to people who have been at it for years is a very good feeling.

I started out as a prep cook. For those who do not know what that is, a prep cook is essentially the peon who stands in the back chopping, portioning, boiling and otherwise prepping food for service. They get this food ready for the big boys on the line. Gradually, they may be permitted on the line until they become a regular there. That was the case with me. I needed a job. I took one that was offered, having no idea that cooking was going to be anything more than a paycheck for me. I would not change how I did it in the slightest. It allowed me to learn with no preconceived notions.

I learned everything I know about cooking the hard way. I learned to pay attention to the cooks around me on the line when my arm was closed in an oven door. I learned that a dry towel is safer than a wet towel when I carried a pot of boiling water across a kitchen as the heat conducted easily through the wet towel, burning the palm of my hand. I could go on for ten years worth of lessons, but that is the gist of how chefs learn.

The single most important thing I have learned about my job from my job is that there is no saving a sinking ship with a listless crew. If all of the line cooks stop caring, a kitchen will forever be in the weeds with no mower.

The strangest thing that ever happened to me as a chef was actually gruesome. Through an accident, part of my finger got chopped off and has since healed wonderfully and normally thanks to a great doctor. Anyway, I learned that you only feel pressure when something is lopped off. Oh, it hurts later, but not at first. I honestly think that is the weirdest thing I learned from cooking.

I get up and go to work each day excited to make people happy. Any service without complaints and with at least one compliment from diners is an accomplishment to be proud of.

The worst challenge of doing what I do is dealing with the waitstaff. Oh, I wish I did not have to say that, but it is true. Waitstaff that does not pay attention to what is happening in the kitchen will be the death of me.

Being a chef is stressful at times. It is long hours. It is dealing with crews that define the word “motley.” It is living like a vampire with the kitchen as your coffin. In many ways, work becomes life.

Chefs can make a pittance or they can make a king’s ransom. It depends on their success and whether they own their kitchens. It also depends on what position they hold as chef. However, chefs can expect to make more than 50,000 dollars a years as executive chefs. It is not a bad income.

To get into the cooking industry, you must be ready to learn and put in a lot of hard work. I would tell any friend who wanted to do what I do to embrace chaos.

This is a true story as told to JustJobs Academy which houses career interviews and job search advice for professionals in any industry.  Visit to read about how to find the perfect job and how to get promoted once you land it.

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