5 Simple Tips I Learned as a New Line Cook
When I moved to a new town a few years ago I decided to make a job change as well. I had been working in a grocery store as a lowly stock boy and to say it was unfulfilling would be a huge understatement.
I decided to apply to the restaurant where my roommates worked. They had been cooks for years and I loved the idea of working with close friends, I never had a job like that before. So I applied, but having no cooking experience I began my journey as a dishwasher. Maybe not any more fulfilling than my previous job but I loved the change of pace, I loved the owners, and I loved my new coworkers. So I’d still call it a win.
It wasn’t long before I was doing prep work, building salads, steaming lobsters, and shucking oysters. Speaking of oysters, when you pry open those bad boys, either wear a chain-mail glove or put a thick hand towel between the tool and the hand holding the shell. If you don’t, and you get a stubborn bastard, you may just end up putting that shucker clean through your hand. Or not so clean. That’s tip number one.
After a year of that I finally took the big step of moving onto the line. I still had no real cooking experience, but I started training before summer hit when we became very busy.
I started as the fry guy, the simplest task. Dry, wet, dry, fry. Easy as that. The simplest, but not necessarily the easiest. Being a seafood restaurant, it wasn’t unusual for the fry end to make up the bulk of any lunch service. Fried fish, fried shrimp, fried scallops, and of course French fries. Oh, so many fries. On a busy day, where we served between 600 and 700 people, if you didn’t have a whole basket of fries in the grease at all times you weren’t doing your job right.
“Fries first, junior”. I’d heard that on more than one occasion.
As important as that is, my second tip is to stay very aware of your surroundings. This is especially true for a small kitchen. When things get busy, people will be moving all over the place, and quickly. I was taught one important word for when I was maneuvering about my fellow cooks: “BEHIND”.
Trust me, you don’t want to be standing behind the guy pulling a dish out of the oven when…