Top 3 pieces of career advice from restaurant pros
Whether you’re a hospitality-minded high school graduate, enthusiastic culinary student, or seasoned restaurant worker with years of experience, you have an exciting future ahead of you. The restaurant industry continues to grow and career opportunities, for those who are really willing to work for them, may prove virtually limitless. Of course, everyone can use a helping hand, so we scoured our resources to cull the top three pieces of career advice from restaurant pros. Bon Appétit!
“It’s not your boss’s job to get along with you. It is your job to get along with your boss.”
While the antics of famous chefs the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Alvin ‘Devil Chef’ Leung may have convinced foodies worldwide that a pugilistic attitude is where it’s at in the restaurant biz, the basic fact is most of you will get much further in your career by playing nice.
This means practicing acceptance when working with all sorts of individuals, and doing your best get along with a myriad of personality types. Sure, you’re eventually going to work for a boss you loathe. However, he (or she) should never suspect you think anything less than the best of him.
Getting along does not have to mean “brown nosing,” “sucking up” or behaving insincerely. Just be open to opportunities and flexible whenever possible. For example, cross training for other positions within the restaurant and working the schedule no one else wants can quickly make you a favorite – and eventually lead to advancement.
Finally, don’t burn bridges. Always give appropriate notice and leave on good terms. It’s a large industry but a small world, and you never know when you’re going to cross paths with a previous manager. Keep that reputation golden.
“To be successful, be sure to make a continuous effort to learn and a continuous effort to improve.”
One of the most exciting things about a culinary career is observing the evolution of a cuisine first hand. There is always something more to learn, and everyone has room for improvement. If you’re in culinary school, challenge yourself to take a leadership role in class projects. Seek an internship that will push your limits and encourage growth.
As a restaurant employee, actively pursue advancement opportunities – don’t wait for your boss to suggest it. Prove your dedication through continuing education, cross training for other positions, and a stellar attendance record. Build evidence of stability as well. It’s natural to want to move up to the next big thing, even if that means leaving for a different restaurant. But the process will be easier if you can show you’ve spent two to five years at each establishment.
“Do what you love, be creative and the money will follow.”
All the money in the world is worthless if you hate the work you’re doing every day. If working in a restaurant isn’t stimulating some deeper part of you, it might be time to consider other careers. On the other hand, if you can dream of nothing better than playing a part in culinary genius, then don’t be afraid to do whatever it takes to make that happen.
It may not be at the top, but you have to start working somewhere. Get a job as a server, a dishwasher, a prep chef, a bartender – and then work your way up. Make sure your boss knows you’re willing to do more, be that learn another role or helping with ordering, marketing or special promotions. A survey by the National Restaurant Association found that 80 percent of restaurant owners got their start in an entry-level position.