My First Crack at Restaurant Work

Job hunting can be tough. However, I learned there is always a way to achieve your goal. During my first year university enrollment, I had learned that one of the mandatory requirements in order to graduate was to work a minimum of 1600 hours within the hospitality industry.

Sounded reasonable, but of course there was going to be a catch. Students were forbidden to work during the school year unless you agreed to a volunteer program on campus which included working in the hotel’s kitchen, the restaurant’s front of house or the hotel’s front office. We were already required to complete 40 hours of volunteer work on campus, so for most students, working for free wasn’t an option. No job assistance was offered which presented challenges for foreign students who were just trying to get accustomed to a new place.

So imagine having an entire class of 150 students competing for similar jobs. I needed a different strategy. First I wanted to complete my 40 hours as soon as possible and therefore I chose the kitchen. The executive chef informed all kitchen volunteers that working in the kitchen was strictly voluntary and no student could be hired in the future. Because of bad experiences in the past, the chef no longer permitted students. I wanted to learn more than just some knife skills and prep work; I was going to prove to the chef and the entire kitchen that my passion for food was enough to hire me.

I completed the 40 hours in three weeks and requested to work there. I was rejected, but I offered to work for free as I knew whatever hours I logged, they would be counted towards the 1600 hours. Unlike many students who thought I was crazy, I didn’t care because I loved every minute of it and I felt I had formed a special bond with the kitchen guys. It was the last week of May when the first school year was coming to an end and the chef pulled me to the side and offered me an official kitchen job.

After 270 hours of volunteer work, I earned a third cook position. I was thrilled about the position as well as finding out from the program director that all the hours would be counted because it was within the hospitality campus. I worked hard to earn the position and knew afterwards anything was possible when you put your heart and mind to it.

I ended up working there for three years and I can safely say that it was one of the best learning experiences of my life.

Photograph by: rick

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About The Restaurant Blogger

Where I come from

I was born and raised in Newfoundland and moved away and completed my last three years of high school. After high school, I was like a lot of other students – confused and didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I was bouncing all sorts of ideas on what field to major and it finally came to me. Ever since I was young, I really enjoyed everything about food. I loved to analyze the meal, break it down into each component. Dining out at various restaurants was a great treat for me and if I could, I would try to meet the chef. Not only did I critic the food but everything about service was important to me. So the decision was simple, I went to university and earned a degree in hospitality and tourism management with a major in food and beverage.

My Education and Life Challenges

During university I also met my wife who was studying in the same program. I had a great experience at university and had the opportunity to meet some great people along the way. However, university wasn’t exactly a smooth ride as I hoped to be. Third year rolled around and I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. I had moved out of student residence and traveled to the United States to receive treatment. Three months later, I returned to Canada to continue treatments. It was a life changing experience. Everything that was given to me when I was born was taken away in a flash. Walking, bathing, changing and feeding myself, this was no longer capable. Today, I am stronger and healthier than ever before. After six months of chemotherapy, three surgeries and five blood transfusions and two years later, I was cured.

My Passion

Good food and fine wine is my passion. My whole life is surrounded with food. I watch the Food Network daily and record certain episodes which I archive for later use as well as read cookbooks like they are novels. Trying new restaurants is like an addiction. I will travel outside the city and even out of the country just to experience a new cuisine. Most importantly, I enjoy what I do and that is working in a restaurant everyday. The job is hard work that comes with long hours, low wages and many sacrifices. I have virtually held every position in the front of house operations including working in the kitchen as a cook. Over the years I have consulted and managed restaurants and have been grateful for every opportunity.

Why Am I Blogging?

I thought the best way to help someone and also teach myself along the way is sharing my experiences with others. My stories are practical and can be applied to your own business. However, I also share funny moments during my career. This restaurant blog is for anyone working or considering working in the restaurant industry. I hope these stories are inspiring and you will share your own experiences. I am on journey of learning everything I can along the way to open my own restaurant.

Where am I headed?

I am beginning to understand that opening and running a restaurant is far different than managing one. You can be an excellent manager but a lousy owner. If you plan to own something you will begin to understand the tough decisions that are made by every owner. It’s a challenge that I believe I am ready to face. I have conquered the hardest obstacle already in life – cancer.

The restaurant is my dream that I will look forward to soon accomplish.

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