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How can a non-experienced kid (like myself) find a cook position that doesn't entail too much garbage and/or dishwashing work?

Many thanks everyone---this is why I love these boards; any insights are very much appreciated. But yeah, we'll see where I go with this. I am pretty enthusiastic, but hopefully my talent (if any) can back it up...if Chow keeps this forum up beyond tonight, I'll keep y'all posted about my endeavors throughout the week. Hopefully I can find something soon...

Aug 12, 2007
pax in Not About Food

How can a non-experienced kid (like myself) find a cook position that doesn't entail too much garbage and/or dishwashing work?

Alright, here's my story:

24 year old dude who moved back to LA about two days ago. I was going to law school (UCLA--go Bruins!), but decided and was able to defer my admission for a year. In the meantime, I'm here readjusting after six years on the east coast, and would love any position that could develop my culinary abilities. Line cook? Prep dude? Anything?

Downsides:
a) I have no restaurant experience whatsoever. I've become a decent (at least in my opinion) home cook, but have no idea what life would be like behind a rest kitchen. Based on some friends who've line cooked at decent places (Citronelle in DC), it sounds like a pain in the ass, very stressful, and something entailing a lot of toil, dedication, and stress. In other words, something I'd be very interested in, or (at the least) could try out for a few months to a year.

b) I'm pretty much broke. One of the reasons I deferred was b/c I have a fair amount of debt to pay off, and wouldn't want to incur any extra given my law school loans and incur any further cost of living expenses, in addition to some bills that I already have to pay.

Indeed, I need a job, and while I'm pretty confident I could find a desk job out here fairly quickly, I'd rather cook, and for many hours. It obv wouldn't pay as well, but it'd be interesting, and since I'd be squatting at relatives', I could still contribute whatever I make (and, given how much I'm willing to toil based on past jobs that entailed 80+ hr workweeks) towards bills and a piggy-bank for when I actually do attend school.

Such also excludes the option of my attending culinary school. Perhaps once I'm able to afford something? Who knows.

Regardless, here's my question (and gratitude for whoever's made it this far in reading my long-winded post) to anybody who could provide any advice, as it'd be very very very much appreciated:

Is there any way for me to do a walk-in at particular restaurants? It obviously doesn't have to be a "caliber" type of restaurant, but rather something where I'm not doing dishes and tossing out the garbage all the time, and where I could gain some basic experience. I'm pretty quick, and learn easily, and (as mentioned) think I have some basics down in terms of culinary abilities; my palate is certainly there (I've eaten at some pretty decent places --- Bernardin, Gavroche, Morimoto, WD50 --- but concede that dining is a wholly different world than cooking!). Who knows. Should I go through my LA Zagat guide and just wander the streets of SoCal to see if any chef is willing to take me in? Should I look for particular hole-in-the-walls, or cafeterias, or anything to offer my services? I am clueless as how to approach this...

Phew...finished my schpiel. As mentioned above, if any of you could provide me any advice, it'd be very much appreciated. I love Chow, and while I'm not familiar with the LA posters, I've been an avid follower of the board postings for some time. Either way, my faith is in your hands. Help!!!

Aug 12, 2007
pax in Not About Food