So you’ve made it through the door! Well done on getting your first gig at a proper restaurant. As is the norm with starting out in a restaurant, you’re pretty much at the bottom of the food chain. Being a sous or executive chef seems like an incredibly distant dream. But these things happen step by step. Make your way up from prepping, to the line, and so on- you’ll be running your own joint in no time. Here are some tips for how to move up in the kitchen.
Show them you mean business
You’ve heard the old adage- first one in, last one out. Trying to execute that literally may not make sense, but it’s definitely a good idea to get in early to ensure that all your tasks for the day will run smoothly. Don’t run out the second your shift ends. Of course you’re cleaning your own station but maybe offer help to someone who’s lagging. An easy tip- people remember who stayed behind regularly, but not as much what they were doing. You can help yourself out by being there a little bit longer, even it’s just to chat to others while they finish up there last pieces of work. Make leaving ASAP after your shift the exception, not the rule. This shows that the place means something to you, as do the people. Running out of the door as soon as you can show the opposite. They have the know that you want to stick around.
Improve your culinary skills
I’m sure you’re great at your job- in a competitive industry, you wouldn’t otherwise have it. Maybe you’re the best one at it, or maybe you’re the only one doing what you do. But still, lack of competition is no excuse for complacency. Time yourself on your prep times and then try to beat that. Work clean. Be organised. Ask questions. All of these things will get you noticed and put you one step closer to a promotion.
Never stop learning
Great chefs are always seeking out new learning opportunities, as this is the fastest way to expand knowledge and acquire a broader understanding of techniques, ingredients and ideas. Take all the learning opportunities that come your way when you’re looking for a promotion, from working in multiple roles through to spending time with more experienced chefs. The more you can learn and grow, the more appealing a prospect you will be for a promotion.
Kitchens function at optimum efficiency and performance when everyone fulfills their role to maximum potential and understands how to support others they share the space with. It’s an essential skill for any kitchen worker, one which will have been emphasised to you repeatedly, even at culinary school. Demonstrating exceptional teamwork capabilities will provide a great foundation for a culinary career and will be an invaluable stepping stone in terms of working towards a promotion.
At every level in the kitchen, demonstrating initiative will make you stand out from the crowd. Even in the most junior positions you can mark yourself out as a potential candidate for promotion by looking for opportunities to do more or to go the extra mile. That could be something that makes life easier for your team, or a potential fix for an issue the kitchen has long suffered from. Seizing the initiative is a great habit to get into early if you’re planning to have a stellar career.
Let management know
A lot of people assume that everyone wants a promotion, but that’s not the case. A lot of people are happy where they are, and aren’t interested in moving up. With that in mind, let your chef know that you’re looking for advancement. If your chef knows, he’ll call on you to test you out when someone falls sick. They’ll keep an eye on you, checking if and when you’re ready to move. Eventually, when the time comes to fill a higher position, they will definitely consider you. Then, once you’ve been in that position for a few months, tell them you’re ready for another promotion (rinse and repeat).
We hope that these tips prove helpful to you, and we at Hurst Campus wish you all the best as you move forward in your career. It won’t always be smooth sailing (for more on that, check out our blog on how to deal with tough days in the kitchen), but ultimately it’s worth it.