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How many fellow Chowhounders are or have been in the biz?

  • momof3 Nov 21, 2006 01:19 AM
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Just wondering how many of y'all have worked in the food and bev industry.
Are (were) you are server, cook, wine rep., bartender, etc...?
I have done it all.
Cocktail waitress, busgirl, cook, bartender, server, barista, the list goes on :)

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  1. Dishwasher, cook, steward, bartender, commercial fisherman, garbageman, combinations thereof.

    1. Waitress, owner, garde manger, grill, saute, pizza maker.

      1. I was a child labourer for my parents' restaurant. Started with the dishes, moved to waiting on tables, once I got my driver's license, I was sent out for deliveries, then graduated to bartending and finally broke free when I left home for school. During my 8 years of slavery, I worked beside my dad every single night (even school nights) and into the wee hours of the morning prepping for the next day. I could chop up a storm back then. Today I prefer to stay out of the kitchen and instead choose to lavish my praise and appreciation for everyone else's efforts from my seat in the dining room.

        1. Been in the business forever! Love it, even when I'm tortured by it. Barrista, busgirl, cocktail waitress, hostess, manager, bartender, consultant, caterer. All roads somehow lead to this fabulous business. I still have nightmares about forgetting to fire the middle course, and fileting fish at the table. Can't you just use a regular fork? Do you really need a fish fork? But those forks were always so cute....

          1. have been a busboy, prep cook/dishwasher, and worked as a cook at a KFC. shudder.

            1. I started as waitress, than moved to prep, fry, sauté and then baker/pastry.

              1. Waitress in college, food & appliance demonstrator at major retail shops on weekends, dinner party caterer in my 20's, breakfast in bed service owner in my 30's til I sold the biz went back to school, and entered a non-food field from there.
                Utmost respect for those who work in food industry.

                1. barista, hostess, server (in that order)

                  1. waitress, bartender, caterer.

                    1. line cook(grll/broiler,pasta, saute), banquet cook, food & beverage purchasing, restaurant management.

                      I got out of the food business. I hated working weekends, and not making good money.

                      1. Dishwasher, prep, cook, tempura cook, sushi chef, bartender. Loved the work but hated the zombie-esque hours.

                        1. I have been in and out of the field over the years. I worked for nine days at BK broiling burgers in early high school, then my sanity returned. I had a private chef/caterer business in late high school, cooking then serving at small, formal, weekend dinner parties for an exclusive clientele. Worked in the wine industry doing sales and managed a few retail stores. Studied at the French Culinary Institute and several culinary schools and restaurants in Asia, Africa, and South America. Taught food/culture courses on a ship based university traveling around the world (was also the counselor on board the ship.) Worked on a dairy farm making artisinal raw milk cheese and baking rustic wood fired, brick oven breads. Brewed beer in a brewpub. Been a hard cider maker. Now I'm a consulting chef working with restaurants and farmers, and also a food and beverage writer. In between those other jobs I was a psychologist, wilderness and river guide/cook/mountaineer, corporate trainer, outdoor educator, among other things.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: JMF

                            Since this last post I have over 600 paid, published articles on food and beverages under my belt, but I don't write much the past year or two. Mostly because I spent several years partnered with a winery and opened a brewery. Then left that and spent another few years partnered in a spirits brand and distillery. I created the products, distilled and produced them, etc. So I now have two spirits on the market and a cocktail bitters. I just left that and am consulting again, and work with restaurants and bars creating fine cocktail menus, and teach seminars and classes on spirits, cocktails, bitters, etc.

                          2. I have been on the business end working as an office manager for a bakery, then doing sales. I also worked as an inside sales rep for a produce company, and a barista. Now I am a personal chef.

                            1. Bar Back, Bartender,Server, Wine Runner, Hostess - want to own a B&B - we'll see.

                              1. Busser and counter help at a steakhouse, deli prep, dishwasher at a bakery, food waitress at 4 restaurants, cocktail waitress at a nightclub (complete with abbreviated French maid outfit!), croissant baker, bartender at an Indian restaurant, hostess and assistant bookkeeper at a restaurant in the Financial District.

                                1. caterer, bartender 10 yrs, back in catering, owner/chef. . . wish i loved to do something that didn't make me poor! LOL

                                  1. attended culinary school and have worked all front of the house positions. it's an excellent outlet for my masochism. and few outsiders know that restaurant years are the equivalent of "dog years".

                                    when i become empress of the universe, i will mandate that everybody work in a restaurant for 6 weeks, so they understand how truly hard it can be. if they refuse or fail, they can only eat at self-serve and tray-service joints for the rest of their lives.

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                      right on! I was a hostess, sandwich counter "cook", catering waitress/bartender/runner/possessor of bloody stumps....12hrs of hard labor, occasional verbal lashings, all for under $100 - what a deal!

                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                        Here, here. Your sous-empress heartily approves.

                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                          How about just vending machines, not even self service/tray service joints? I've seen some rude people at IKEA who don't bus themselves, leave a mess, try to custom order, let their kids throw food, etc.

                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                            ..or own a restarantfor 6 weeks, and if they refuse or fail, they are doomed to Burger King forever....

                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                              i think that wishing everyone would work foodservice/retail for a small portion of their life has become my mantra. some people can be so insensitive!

                                              1. re: loghia

                                                My Sainted Mother(tm) recommended everyone work one summer on a farm and the following in a restaurant. They would learn empathy for every job after.

                                              2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                Oh, come on, let's make it a YEAR!

                                                I've worked in all aspects of fast food, dishwasher, line cook, caviar maker (yes, really), server, busser, line cook, bartender, mid-price casual, fine dining, catering...

                                                This list could go on, too bad I love the business so.

                                                Yeah, everyone should spend a year working with the public.

                                                1. re: therealbigtasty

                                                  I agree. I only worked at a bagel shop for 3 yrs in HS. I always tell friends it's the best job I've ever had, and am dying to get back into it somehow.

                                                  That little experience taught me to have a real respect for anyone working in the food industry, especially the silent, invisible workers out back. I will never take for granted a clean, efficient space, and will always tip well and be nice. :)

                                                2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                  That's exactly my idea! You would have to get licensed to eat at restaurants, just like driving a car.

                                                  Anyway, I've done it all, from washing dishes to owning and managing, and everything in between, at every possible sort of restaurant.

                                                3. 12 years and counting. dishwasher, busser, server, bartender, host, manager. I took a few years off to try a "real job". It sucked the soul right out of me and I quickly returned to the world of food and bev.

                                                  1. Cook, dishwasher, server, bartender... It's been a great and "interesting" experience.

                                                    1. Line, prep, catering, short order, waiting tables. I liked cooking except for the chauvinists (D***heads!), but you'd have to pay me more than Bill Gates to work front of house again.

                                                      Funniest experience: we always brewed coffee when arriving in the morning for lunch prep. One day it was really weak. Someone made coffee with unground beans. Oops.

                                                      1. The food business is pretty ubiquitous. Most people I know have been in it at some point in their lives. One of my favorite jobs ever (and I've been in a lot of different careers, finance, marketing, art, fitness,...) was doing grill at McDonald's. I wasn't "allowed" at the time to do it regularly because I was female (would never fly now) and was stuck behind the counter but it was great getting all that food out, getting into a routine for preparing everything. I was surprised at how regimented the whole process was. I think one reason I liked it was not having to deal with customers, just let me make the burger and leave me alone. Those were also before the "order it your way" days at McD's. (You don't want a pickle? Take it out yourself). I've had other food jobs since and am considering going to bartending school. I thought it would be a good mix with being a personal trainer.;-)

                                                        1. granduncles started in 1910, dad in 1946, my time of service
                                                          1979 - 1995. the bottom line: the restaurant bidness was very, very, good to my family.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: byrd

                                                            Tell us more! Where, what kind of food, what were the keys to maintaining a long running successful restaurant when a ton of others have failed?

                                                          2. Server, baking business owner, back to server. Tried the corporate job couldn't stand that two week vacation thing. Now I take six weeks a year, sure there's no pay for that, but I make enough working thirty hours a week, to afford it.

                                                            1. I had an organic tomato farm and delivered the tomatoes to restaurants myself. I had the chance to spy on many kitchens and saw how different they can be. Some chefs were so nice and others were evil, though only one never paid me. I saw a lot of hard work going on (and a lot of really goodlooking guys).

                                                              1. Bartender. Than bar manager.

                                                                1. Waitress, cook, did some catering then Home Ec. Ed in college, worked as consumer liasion for a major grocery chain, now I sell houses and cook for the pure joy of it.

                                                                  1. own a 24 yr old catering co.

                                                                    1. Was a cocktail waitress in college. At a restaurant with a very large bar right next door to an airforce base. That was quite a learning experience--but not about the restaurant biz. Have spent my adult life in book publishing rewriting, editing, and producing many, although not exclusively, cookbooks.

                                                                      1. I've worked in restaurants since I was 15, owned my own European style bakery/cafe for 11 years, and I am currently the Executive Chef for a large Mid West university.

                                                                        1. I've been trying to get away from it for years! Busboy/waiter/
                                                                          sommelier...just can't seem to get it out of my system. Now I'm selling real estate, but it's still working with people and taking care of their needs so it's quite similar. Still have restauarant nightmares though - I'm the only one in the place, it's PACKED, and everyone is waving at me, demanding that I take their order!!! When will it ever stop?

                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                          1. re: gigi

                                                                            That's funny. I did a lot of theater in school and still dream that I don't know my lines and everyone is yelling at me. I bet you'll have restaurant dreams forever.

                                                                            1. re: gigi

                                                                              Oh it never will! Lolol - I still have a waitress nightmare once in a while, and it's been a good 20 years since I last worked serving. Ya can't get anything from the bar or out of the kitchen, a busload of people walk in the door, you have to get the folks who just sat in the patio, and the toilets are overflowing. And of course you're the only one on the floor.

                                                                              1. re: gigi

                                                                                i have waitressing nightmares all the time, and its been more then 5 years since ive done it. i also worked in a creepy county jail with horrible people and never had one dream about that! ha!

                                                                                1. re: gigi

                                                                                  I still have a dream about a bar I worked at almost 10 years ago-- end of 2-fer-1 happy hour, me making row after row of martinis and fancy-scmancies, full ticket line, tearing the tickets down as i finish & the floor mgr sticking the tix up as fast as i tear them down-- that horrible ca-chink sound of the ticket line is truly the stuff of nightmares and when i can sometimes hear it faintly through the kitchen door in restaraunts it makes me crazy!

                                                                                  1. re: gigi

                                                                                    In my nightmares, I'm moving as though through quicksand while the rest of the restaurant moves at lightening speed, and I struggle to get even one drink order to the table before the end of the shift. Horrible, horrible nightmares.

                                                                                    1. re: uptown jimmy

                                                                                      Or the one where the kitchen is a hundred yards from your section and the people are complaining that the food is cold...

                                                                                      1. re: therealbigtasty

                                                                                        Or you wake up in the middle of the night only to realize that you forgot to bring extra ketchup to table 32...and it was three days ago that you waited on them!

                                                                                    2. re: gigi

                                                                                      I haven't worked the door in about 10 years and whenever I get stressed at my current job, I have seating nightmares! I'm trying to juggle reservations, walk-ins, wait times...Argh! The horror! The horror!

                                                                                    3. Actually just quit my PR job to enter full-time culinary school in January. I was spending so much time on chowhound I figured I might as well make it my official occupation...

                                                                                      1. I have cooked in many situation since I was teenager (20 years ago)...dinner theater...Japanese....retreat center....prep counter to chef and everything in between!

                                                                                        1. Trained in France when it was unusual to be a girl in the kitchen, worked on-off in restos & owned catering business while husband was career officer in Navy, part-owner of a resto & grew some of the product we served, food bank advisor, taught in culinary school, private chef, free-lance teaching, author, and on and on. Currently, I'm enjoying my career as a retired Food Historian.

                                                                                          I have never been a bartender or in the wine business.

                                                                                          1. Wow, I must be the only Chowhound who has never worked in the restaurant business, not even in college. Now that I'm reviewing restaurants, I wish I had at some point. If I had just a bit more time, I'd love to work part-time at a cafe or cheese shop to learn more about food -- while I'm still young enough to spend most of the day on my feet!

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Chowpatty

                                                                                              Not even cafeteria duty when you were in elementry school! I loved that... anything to get out of class... LOL! :)

                                                                                              --Dommy!

                                                                                              1. re: Chowpatty

                                                                                                Go work as a host in one of the many corporate restaurants in town, seriously.

                                                                                                It's damned easy to get hired and you'll learn a lot. Of course the food isn't the best. Try an Islands or Chilis or something--I highly recommend it.

                                                                                              2. Started at age 6 when I "interned" with a neighbor at the local Sea Galley restaurant for a whole dollar. I remember to this day being in awe of an actual refrigerator you could walk into.
                                                                                                Hostessed at Elmer's Pancake & Steak House, and was promoted to waitress in high school. "Hashed" in my college dining hall and made it to "head hasher" and then student manager. Ran small, medium & large commercial kitchens from a staff of 10 to 100 & NCAA concessions for up to 80,000 people (took me two years before I could look at a hot dog again). Took some training at the CIA & did FOH fine dining & catering for a while. Now I sell things to restaurants. I actually get to do this at work without feeling guilty. I love my job!

                                                                                                1. Both sides of my family (mom and dad) come from restaurant families, owned a few...my uncle finally sold his last place recently. When I got to be a teenager and looking for a job my Dad (an engineer) pulled me aside and said, "don't ever work in a restaurant, 12 hr days, blah, blah, blah..." Then a year or so later he was ready to jump into it and guess what...all the kids would become workers. My Mom flat refused. Never worked in a restaurant or food service in my life.

                                                                                                  1. Went to a boarding school where everyone had to work in the kitchen at some point, and so I can make mashed potatoes and gravy for 150... Summer job in college, cooked lunches and snacks for a small YWCA summer camp (50 kids), biggest issue was how to use all the USDA surplus foods (oatmeal?) that had been ordered before the summer began. Not, I imagine, the equivalent of restaurant work, since the "customers" all got the same food at the same time and although they could and did complain loudly on occasion, they weren't paying and had to come back.

                                                                                                    1. Different sort of experience, in the 'biz', I worked as a marketing consultant major food manufacturers. I developed products for just about ever aisle of the supermarket (Some I still consider my babies), I worked one on one with consumers of all stripes, soccer moms, health nuts, gourmets, and got exposed to a lot of supply side, everything from organic farms to slaughter houses. We also had a large food service division where we supplies many top restaurants, chains and even the military. One piece of memorabilia from this work that I regret not keeping is the 'airforce one' version of our candy with the presidental seal and evertything... :)

                                                                                                      It was quite the experience and opened my eyes to the true BUSINESS side of food that even some restaurantuers don't understand... Plus, being a consultant also meant... hefty expense and entertainment account... ;)

                                                                                                      --Dommy!

                                                                                                      1. Chippie, Yorkshire Fish and Chips, Berkeley, CA 1975-79.
                                                                                                        Intermezzo as baker at Fat Albert's, Berkeley, CA summer of '76.

                                                                                                        NEVER AGAIN!!!

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                          I knew a girl in high school who worked at Fat Albert's (Fat Apples, now) JUST peeling apples. Horrible job.

                                                                                                        2. Well... I worked at Burger King ALL through high school. It was the cool thing to do, it was also my social life. Sorta like "Fast Times at Ridgemont High". I learned every station and it was a tough gig, I took pride in being a great employee; during special events, I was always the one they put on the board that handled the "special" sandwich, etc. Eventually became a production leader, LOL. I even got to wear a white blouse and black pants for the last year. :-)

                                                                                                          In college, bartended and served food in the Student Union bar/club/hang out. Also a tough but VERY cool gig. On weekends, waitressed at a Jewish Center that had weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc. a few times a weekend. A VERY tough gig! Finally, helped run the "Hospitality" department of the student activity council. We had to manage the food and beverages for all organized campus parties as well as handle all the bands that played the school. Not only shop, cook, feed and clean up after but hang out and entertain the bands. Another unbelievably cool gig.

                                                                                                          Although I had fun during my time, I did get to see first hand how tough the biz is. The hours are incredibly long, many of the jobs are not very glamorous and people are not always very nice. I do, however, remember all of it very fondly .

                                                                                                          1. hostess, waitress, bartender.

                                                                                                            1. dishwasher 12-14 yr old, bus girl 14-18 yr old, waitress 18-26 yr old.

                                                                                                              1. My first career was working everything I could at several different restaurants. I started out as a dishwasher at fifteen (regular hours, great tips) and moved up to a regional manager position by twenty-eight (more hours, salaried, sucky travel). I also wrote a business plan and submitted it to a gentleman I was working for for his review. He came back within twelve hours and gave me an honest overview of my plan, telling me how to tighten up my projections, the best firm to contract with for the type of employees I was hoping to employ, etc. And then he closed with the best feedback as he handed it back, "Leave before you waste your life and savings. If you don't believe me, I'm a grand example." He was on wife two, was a recovering alcoholic, worked an insane number of hours per week, and smoked like a chimney stuffed with green wood. I didn't want that life.

                                                                                                                1. After being a stay-at-home mom until my youngest was in Grade 1, I went back to school - chef school. Got my diploma in culinary management, then worked in the test kitchen of a monthly Canadian magazine. I now own and operate a consulting company that provides culinary education services, food writing and editing, and recipe development and testing. I love it! I've consulted on a cookbook and developed all of the recipes in it, I write restaurant reviews and a recipe column for a local magazine, teach knife skills and cooking, do cooking workshops, edit the newsletter for my chapter of an international culinary organization, etc. I work on a freelance basis, which allows me to take on as much work (or as little) as I can handle.

                                                                                                                  My life revolves around gastronomy, food and cooking. I've got an incredible passion for all things culinary, and truly enjoy what I do.

                                                                                                                  1. Fry cook, baker, food anthropologist.

                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                      How does one become a food anthropologist? I have fantasies of being a food anthropologist, but I'm not quite sure what that means :)

                                                                                                                      1. re: AppleSister

                                                                                                                        I'm an agricultural anthropologist working at one of the international research centers. Lately we've been working on bio-fortified (not GM) basic crops to get additional beta-carotene, iron, and zinc to improve children's health. The project has had to know about food and consumption patterns in order to have an impact--work that I do. A lot of our work on crops really deals with food systems, which requires me to put on my food anthropologist hat.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                          You're awesome, Sam, I want to know a food anthropologist.

                                                                                                                    2. Early eighties I owned an imported beer business featuring 112 beers from all over the world. Going great guns until the Olympics hit LA in 1984 when the streets were closed to trucks for weeks and the expected flood of visitors (drinking and eating did not materialize). Ended that venture.

                                                                                                                      I used to take Devil Chow's predessor, Fudge, to the office as my guard dog since the warehouse was in a dicey area. Certainly up to the job going from puppy squeak to big boy bark in no time against all visitors.

                                                                                                                      1. Worked for my parents when I was in high school and college. Mostly washed dishes, but for a couple summers, waited tables at night and helped the cook with some prep work. Did enough to learn that I didn't want to make it a profession, but it was a good experience. Waiting tables was the most fun.

                                                                                                                        ed

                                                                                                                        1. Kitchen boy, sandwich maker, bus boy, waiter (briefly), cook, baker, had my own bakery for about 12 years. Later, worked for other bakeries and a restaurant as a prep cook and dessert chef. Retired Aug 10, 2006.

                                                                                                                          1. As a teenager, I spent one summer working in an ice cream shop for minimum wage plus 10 cents. The manager was extremely impressed that I knew how to use a chef's knife properly to chop the ice cream toppings, as opposed to just hacking randomly at the cutting board like all the other employees. That's the extent of my food service employment.

                                                                                                                            1. I've worked in pretty much all the non-managerial positions to pay (part of) my way through college - busboy, server, caterer, food prep & kitchen, host, dishes, barista, cashier. But my foodservice work is mostly front-end.

                                                                                                                              ~AquaW
                                                                                                                              http://la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: AquaW

                                                                                                                                As one friend joked with me prior to my taking the "promotion" into management, "Working more for less pay? Where do I sign up for that?"

                                                                                                                              2. My only food industry work was a summer in the marketing dept. of the NYC-area branch of Sysco -- editing catalogs, tracking sales and organizing food shows of new products for the sales staff -- yummy! I gained a lot of weight that summer. :-P

                                                                                                                                1. Started at an asian fusion restaurant on garde manger, worked in *every* station at a 4 star luxury hotel and am now Sous Chef of a fine dining restaurant in San Francisco with a very high Zagat rating. Love the industry and am gonna... rule the world someday?

                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: chefinthecity

                                                                                                                                    Oooh... where at? LA Hound here soon to visit SF soon.

                                                                                                                                    And yes, foodservice folks can easily rule the world! "NO dinner for you!"

                                                                                                                                    ~AquaW
                                                                                                                                    http://la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com

                                                                                                                                    1. re: chefinthecity

                                                                                                                                      of course, all of us are going to rule the world some day!
                                                                                                                                      ;)

                                                                                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                        Good grief, why would you want to rule the world? Isn't running a kitchen bad enough?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Reeter1

                                                                                                                                          monday it was worse.
                                                                                                                                          today it's not too bad--LOL!

                                                                                                                                    2. Culinary school, short order cook, grill cook, kitchen manager at corporate deli, personal chef.

                                                                                                                                      Back behind a desk for the last two months. Rather miss the kitchen and am thinking about going back....

                                                                                                                                      1. hostess, server. And aside from having to bite my tongue from time to time when a patron will do something like point to an item on the menu which might say "...duck confit w/a fried duck egg" and ask how the egg is cooked - I love it!

                                                                                                                                        1. Entering my sixth year as a server. Have taken time off here and there for 'real' jobs (hmph!) but keep getting sucked back in.

                                                                                                                                          I like taking cash home, the flexible schedule, the reinvention of identity at every table... but I think it's those dreams of being weeded all to hell that keep me coming back for more.

                                                                                                                                          1. Campus grill in college, catering summers (mostly making the sandwiches and salads you get pre-made in a convenience store, but a few events, too), and cafeteria work service in high school.

                                                                                                                                            Dad's sibs: aunt was general manager of a restaurant; uncle is in the wine business.

                                                                                                                                            1. Was a waitress from age 15 - 21. Learned how to cook by watching the pastry chefs in the LA French restaurants I worked in. To this day, one of my best dishes is an Apple Tarte Tartin, which I learned to make while at the famous Moustache Cafe on Melrose (which recently closed, alas). For the past 20 years, I've been in the PR business and somehow morphed into the world of party planning when Colin Cowie became a client. Then, moved in the direction of consumer products in food and beverage with clients like Mrs. Fields Cookies, Champagne Mumm, Kobrand Corporation, ThinkProducts, Bragg Products...we're launching a new liqueur from some of the ex execs from Seagram. I still work with party planners from my days with Colin...most of them are LA based and do the big Hollywood premieres and celebrity weddings...but my love is food and bev products.

                                                                                                                                              And, yes, I WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE: everyone should spend 10 minutes as a server to learn the kindesses and hardships of that job.

                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: MalibuAly

                                                                                                                                                The floor is for sissies. Everyone should work the grill, broiler and sautee line when they're cranking a 300 or 400-cover lunch. Darwinian theory in the workplace. The slow and infirm are stomped into the muck.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                                                                  As a server, I wholeheartedly agree!

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                                                                    What if I've done both? Is that okay?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: therealbigtasty

                                                                                                                                                      Sure! On the whole, which would you say is crazier/nastier/more inducive of self-medication?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                                                                        Cooking was way more satisfying, but that's because I'm some sort of a masochist (I'm a lifer)...the grease burns, insanely long hours, and cuts were a lot of fun.

                                                                                                                                                        Nowadays though, dishwashing is regaining it's appeal--no responsibility, you can get dirty, nobody's hovering over you...

                                                                                                                                                        But, to this day, I can't listen to servers bitch about the difficulty of their job--it just ain't so. And I'm a waiter, so I can say that. The most evil of the FOH lifestyle is probably the people that come in...then having to explain what they want to the angry kitchen (who I once was)...

                                                                                                                                                        Long reply, but damnit, I love this business...it keeps me going!

                                                                                                                                                        Hail to the lifers.

                                                                                                                                                2. Does working at Zagat's corporate HQ count? ;)

                                                                                                                                                  1. Fast food to the Four Seasons and everywhere in between... I've been a busser, barback, dish washer (1/2 day!) line cook, chef tournant, F&B purchasing agent in a hotel, and hotel purchasing manager.

                                                                                                                                                    I'm in a totally unrelated field now but I still daydream about the one F&B job I still want to try: bartending...

                                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Engineer

                                                                                                                                                      As Shanagain states below, bartending can be fun and if you work at a decent bar, insanely profitable.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                        Or incredibly depressing if you know a bunch of people at the profitable ones and you spend time drinking alone because no one is coming in...

                                                                                                                                                        Luckily my life doesn't have that anymore.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: therealbigtasty

                                                                                                                                                          I could not imagine working in an empty bar. That would just suck, my sympathies go out to anyone who has to do that. Little money, depressing atmosphere...ugh.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                            It had it's benefits...

                                                                                                                                                            Drunk for free, became great friends with the kitchen, and made up some fun cocktails using the dusty bottles of liquor...

                                                                                                                                                            Oh yeah, it pretty much sucked.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                              One of my first bartending gigs was at a family restaurant where 90% of my business was making drinks for the dining room: lots of Ward Eights and Old Fashioneds and other (what I then though of as) old-lady drinks. The only bar patrons were my penniless, draft-beer-drinking friends. Needless to say, I made very little money, but I did have time to work out a few basic skills that served me well later, if not the ability to handle a six-deep crowd of raucous, thirsty, half-stinko patrons (got that later).

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                                                My slow bar was a place where the older crowd hung out, too! I'd have drink tickets come up where the mods took up three to four lines! Those wacky old people with their drink specificity.

                                                                                                                                                      2. I worked in college in the cafeteria bussing tables and kitchen prep. On weekends for extra $$ I would work for the college's catering staff. Once out of college and in between jobs I worked in a muffin shop that made muffins in the morning and lunches midday, It was a really small place so I learned a lot. Both owners were there most days and had a lot of food service experience. What I didn't learn about the biz first hand I learned from them. It was the only job I had where there was a start, middle and end. As a desk jockey I have never had the satisfaction of 'the clean up and restock' at the end of my shift as I did at the muffin shop.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Hostess, busser (briefly), cocktail waitress (best food job), waitress, barista (about a week)...

                                                                                                                                                          Hard work! I don't miss sidework and working on holidays. But the free food while in college was good.

                                                                                                                                                          1. Server, bartender, owner of a two-person operation "cafe."

                                                                                                                                                            God-willing, I shall never serve the (non-related) hungry again.

                                                                                                                                                            Now bartending, on the other hand... THAT was fun and ridiculously profitable.

                                                                                                                                                            1. Mom had a catering business so I "helped" her prep from age 9, sandwich maker then waitress and sometimes caterer in high school, catering as a part time job in college, cocktail waitress summer after college until I found a job in high tech that was easier! I loved the organizational demands of waitressing and LOVED cash in my hand at the end of a good night. I never cooked, but my days serving were quite enough of the biz for me.... and the memories (and sometimes still "in the weeds" dreams) are why I'm a very good tipper!

                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: yumyum

                                                                                                                                                                ha! those "in the weeds" dreams surface at times and it has been 10 plus years. please folks don't forget to tip you waiter, waitress and bartender!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: lyn

                                                                                                                                                                  LOLz!!! I get those too. Still! And its been almost 10 years for me too! AAAARGH! Make them stop!

                                                                                                                                                                  My sis worked in restaurants as well, and she freaks out if I mention the "Weeds" dreams! She can't imagine that it's what she has to look forward to for the next decade!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lyn

                                                                                                                                                                    "please folks don't forget to tip your waiter, waitress and bartender!"

                                                                                                                                                                    Word. I think very poorly of people who undertip.

                                                                                                                                                                2. Dishwasher, server, hostess, pantry prep, pizza cook, part-time line cook, bartender. (grew up in restaurants).

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Dishwasher, prepcook, garde-manger, line cook, catering cook, busboy, waiter (and part time bartender).

                                                                                                                                                                    In that order. Thanks be that I never stepped into the manager's shoes!!!

                                                                                                                                                                    1. Waitress in college. My second career was cooking. Studied with Madeleine Kamman in Newton Centre, worked as a line cook for Sara Moulton. Worked as a cook then chef, then chef owner then manager. After I got laid off as a manager and was told owning a restaurant wasn't sufficient experience for managing one (the idiot said that I could put a gone fishing sign on the door and take the day off?!) got out of the business.

                                                                                                                                                                      Met my husband when he was a waiter and bartender at the restaurant where I was working. He got fired when he broke a glass plate on my steam table because he was aggravated with some customers. He got a day job and just worked nights as bartender, waiter and sommelier for years.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Waitress and Bartender!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. Dorm cook in college; relief cook at country club; food stylist.

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Claudette

                                                                                                                                                                            Ooh, a food stylist! Do you need cooking experience, or just artistic experience?

                                                                                                                                                                          2. wine marketing, specialty food importer, caterer.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. Pastry cook and chef (hence the troll, what I felt like in my first job in a dark cramped Boston restaurant where the unairconditioned pastry kitchen was the hallway to the employee bath/coke room. Hospice chef.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. Busgirl, cocktail waitress, server, pizza chef, ice cream cake maker.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. hostess, barrista, ran my own little cookie company for awhile in college, apprentice at a local cakeshop and bakery.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Dishwasher, busperson, college dining-hall server, server, bartender, host.

                                                                                                                                                                                    One of my siblings is a culinary school alum and professional chef, another is a gifted amateur with many recipes published in national food magazines, despite no connections to the publishing industry or said magazines. My spouse is a gifted amateur pastry chef. I do most of the cooking at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. waitress, bartender, line cook, cheese shop owner.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Waitress.

                                                                                                                                                                                        My family owns a restaurant back home in Pennsylvania. I've helped out once or twice.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Not yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I went to bartending school but halfway through school I got a job that has since paid too well to leave. I am extremely bored in my job, hit the ceiling in my current career (at 25, hah!), and ready for a big change; attending culinary school in 2007 with a dream of being a personal chef or beginning a small catering business for small high end gatherings and then.. who knows?

                                                                                                                                                                                          The feedback I receive from people in the industry is as vast as the responses to this thread. Some love it, some hate it; some want to return, some want to get out. Guess time will tell if I can transform my love of home cooking and everything culinary into a job in the business.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Yes to all -- front of the house, catering, finally brave enough to be in the kitchen and now crazy enough to share a place with my life partner. It's in the bloodstream, ain't it?

                                                                                                                                                                                            T

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Yes started at a catering hall as a dishwasher, prepcook went to culinary School FCI class of 1990, Worked in a NYC as a line cook. One day woke up a and said theses hrs are long and the pay stinks. Went to work for an construction compamy.Plus a few years as a bartender while working construction Money was much better as a Bartentend . When a head chef make 1200 a week a batender in NYC make that in 2 nights. ( Something to think about before working in the back of the house.)After getting married went back to catering and butchering and small catering side jobs.. Still at the same contruction company . Benfits are better

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Waitress at a little Mom & Pop Italian Tavern – My mom and grandmother also waitressed there and my Great-Grandmother was their cook at one time. (We weren’t all working there at the same time – it spanned several decades.) And my first “real” job out of college was working for the National Restaurant Association.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I work at a business that has an attatched restaurant. The time clock and office are at the back of the kitchen, so coming and going all day through the server's stations, dish room, prep kitchen, etc. Get to see it all in action, try to stay out of everybody's way. A real eye-opener.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Just when I think I understand the business, I understand that I don't. Can't, because I don't do the job, just observe. But I have learned alot. So many dynamics involved: personalities, budgets, egos, generational spans, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have a lot of respect for those who work hard and are thoughtful to their fellow workers in a difficult envioronment. Some work two and three jobs to support their families--one to two 8 hour shifts every day. Hats off to these guys and gals. Sure couldn't do it at my age, and would've been too intimdated by it in my younger days. Working with the public (which I've always done) is difficult; in a restaurant it can be horrific.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I work in the biz, such as it were, but on the corporate side these days. Dealing with the unit managers is a pain, but its better than dealing with the public! I primarily used to do concessions work at fairs and festivals and such rather than actual restaurant work. I like to cook,but I'll stay out of that side of it from here on! ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Growing up I was a little prep cook for both my grandma's catering business and my aunt's cake shop. That's where I really learned the basics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Went to culinary school, and held 2 jobs, as a waitress and as an assistant to a chocolatier.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      About to graduate from culinary school, I was offered a job/internship at a very well known- high end restaurant. I worked my way up through each station. Also participated in their heavy catering business, allowing me to travel allover the world, cooking in homes of the elite.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Left the kitchen to work as an event planner- hated it! Then tried out sales with an organic meat company- hated the work environment! Went on to doing investor relations for an restaurant concept- I loved it, but I butted heads with the "boss."

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Which leads me to my current job as a Acc't rep for a produce company. Love, love, love, love my job. I'm in 10-15 kitchens a day, becoming very close with my chef/clients. I really don't feel like a vendor or a salesperson but more of a consultant to Chef's who need my assistance in creating seasonal, cutting edge menus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Short-order and fry cook in a restaurant my brother owned in the 80s. Believe it or not, I actually learned some cooking skills that I still use today. The restaurant also made pizzas, but I never got the hang of that. That was a skill that some people "had" and some didn't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Even more surprising, my basic kitchen skills came from a high school stint at, of all places, Burger King. After that, I was better able to help my mom in the kitchen when she prepared family meals...Kind of weird, but that's where my food interest began....

                                                                                                                                                                                                        (And no, I NEVER go to BK anymore...Haven't in 20 years. They've tinkered with the menu far too much since the good old days.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. busboy, waiter, pot washer, dish washer, deep fry jockey, garde manger, line cook, veg station, pasta station, grill station, pizza station, wok station, sous chef, high-end takeout, catering, food styling

                                                                                                                                                                                                          now i sleep with the enemy: food journalist and resto reviewer

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. drive thru queen at BK; hostess; bartender; server.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Deli, breakfast cook, dishwasher, garde manger, prep cook, grill, sautee, tournant, catering, head chef all about 8 years total.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Not sure why. I think I thought I knew at some point. Couldn't survive anywhere else I guess?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I work in a cockpit leading a bunch of guys who don't understand a word I say while Mariachi blares from the back, techno blares from the front, somehow the food is good...the worst part of the night is, after a full day, a beating on the line, horrible horrible clients with horrible attitudes, returned dishes, waitresses breaking down, dishwasher in the weeds, after the big rush, 30 bends into the lowboy, 5 hours in front of a raging inferno woodfired grill, after a few beers and a few hits of weed, having to shiver away in the goddamned walkin with a 5 page sheet for the next day's order. It's truly then that I feel 25 going on 80.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I just stopped working in restaurants, for the last ten years I've been catering and cooking in restaurants and hotels. Actually, I still cater, but it's not my food time gig.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Now I sell restaurant equipment. I kind of miss the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: manraysky

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Server, line cook, pastry chef. Having been both in front of the house and back, I can fully appreciate the F&B business.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Only if you count pizza delivery in grad school - otherwise no.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. -----

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For me it would from the seed in the ground, growing the livestock, milking the cows, gathering the eggs then cooking all the fine stuff in several restaurants. (The farm was family, but the restaurants was outside employment)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I will not forget this one time when this 25-ish fellow showed up late for work at the restaurant just to whine about not sleeping all that well. I said to the guy that I already milked 123 cows this morning, and what was your excuse again... It hit him like an ice water shower.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -----

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. My first ever job (12) was helping wash dishes and assemble canapes for a friend's mom (private chef/caterer)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Phones/delivery, light food prep for a pizzaria in HS
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Prep, pantry, pastry, grill, saute (restaurants)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hot & cold food production, pastry production, off premise chef (catering)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Private Chef
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Gourmet foods sales

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I worked in the kitchen in a Pizza Hut (gag) for about a minute in college.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Worked for similar duration at a small, well-regarded, now-defunct French place in my hometown. Don't ask me how I landed that job - I think it's because I knew my way around a serious menu decently (for a college kid), could pronounce (if not always understand) French, and I clearly really wanted the job. I was sure I'd be a bang-up success as a waitress, and I knew tons of people who made great money and could fit it around a college schedule, so I was MO-TI-VATED.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Unfortunately, I sucked. After I dropped soup into the lap of one of their best customers (I was apologizing profusely, peppering him with napkins, asking him to let me pay the dry cleaner's bill, totally mortified) they took me aside and offered me any other job -- washing dishes, hostessing, bookkeeping, ANYTHING -- just get the hell away from the customers with hot food. I took their advice and got out of the food service business except as a customer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I later toyed with trying for a gig selling wine to restaurants, but it was too much late night/weekend hours for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. waitress, catering business jack of all trades and waitress again

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Wow, I just counted how long I've been doing this and I hadn't done that in a few years. I started out washing dishes during high school at a great French restaurant. Only later did I realize how truly famous the chef was. Worked my way up to some of the best joints in France, USA and Japan and now I'm a coporate chef in charge of 150 accounts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Age 15-16 McDonald's. Back in those days it was male-only, I was in the second group of females hired. While I worked there, the EggMcMuffin was introduced. In my area, it was a pretty prestige job to have.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Next 20 years...school and being a designer.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Midlife crisis...moved to Maui, and started cooking at some pretty great resorts and restaurants. Stayed at it for 5 years. Last job at FourSeasons. I loved my job, I loved the people, and I had some great experiences.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Now.....back to circuit design.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Next??? I dream of having my own restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I currently run one of the healthy food delivery services in Southen California, so I have been in the business for awhile, but NOTHING was as stressful as waiting tables for a year in NYC. I still have dreams about not getting to every table in time and I sleptwalked one time trying to serve water to a friend spending the night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think everyone should wait tables at some point in their life. It would make them very grateful for their current job and much more empathetic towards the waitstaff(and probably more reasonable with tips).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And whoever wrote about cooks/chefs; they are a strange bunch! We have a wonderful one now but cook's tend to have ego's galore and anger issues lol!!! We have 25 kitchen employee's and man are we lucky. Hard workers, good people and wonderful employee's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. In order:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Popcorn girl, 1.5 years
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Waitress, Friendly's, 4 months (summer)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sandwich maker, dirtiest sandwich shop in Penzance, 1 week
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fish-n-chip server (late nights I served from behind a metal protective screen/cage), 3 months (summer)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Baker for gourmet home-meal replacement shop, 5 months (while at culinary school)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Baker, cafe, 1 week (place closed - why were they hiring a week before closing? No idea.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Baker/pastry cook, wholesale pastry shop, 1.5 years
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pastry cook, fancy-pants new dessert restaurant, 1.5 months (I hated them)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Cookie baker, new cookie company, 2 months (they went under, too)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  CIA grad, Baking and Pastry Arts certificate program.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Project coordinator for academic polling group, 7 years. My feet and my retirement account thank me every day for getting out of the food biz.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I was a pretty good pastry cook, but a lousy waitress/server. I hated waitressing more than any job I've had since, including mutual fund trading, and how I hated mutual fund trading.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Waited on tables at Leonard's of Great Neck, a huge, garish catering outfit on Long Island. This was back in the early '80's. Had to wear a bow-tie (clip-on, of course), black striped pants and a red bolero jacket. I heard more versions of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" than one can imagine in the average lifetime. I just remember lots of tension, yelling and pandemonium, but, all these years later, it's given me some stories to tell.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I worked at a shotgun wedding that made most funerals look like Mardi Gras. At least once a week, some guy would get piss-drunk and accuse me of making a pass at his wife. Naturally, the food choices were limited: chicken or beef. One time, when a customer asked me which I would recommend, I responded, "the diner up the street".
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    P.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Polecat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I always wondered about that place - and was invited, one time, for a sweet 16. I can't imagine anyone knowing that many people at 16...but who knows, since I certainly didn't go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Long Island diners are something else, and probably a good deal better than catering! Was the food at Leonard's that bad?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: theannerska

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pretty bad, yeah, back in those days, at least. But I doubt whether people went there for the food anyway, so much as for the opportunity to blow their savings on garish weddings with fountains, faux greek statues and halls such as "the illustrious promenade room".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But I wasn't kidding about the diner, which, at that time, was known as the Eden Roc, on the corner of Lakeville and Northern Blvd. Great silver dollar pancakes. It remains on the same lot, now known - in it's umpteenth incarnation - as the Seville. But I digress.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        P.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Polecat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've been to that diner! Haven't had the silver dollar pancakes, and don't think I was around for the Eden Roc - but as a diner junkie, I've tried quite a few. Great steak fries like a proper diner should have...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Stared out as a line cook, got all the way to Sous chef, then got into the wine biz. It's way more fun and i get to go to awesome parties all the time :) I tell people I drink for a living. But don't worry I'm not an alcoholic, but i do believe in wine with dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Fry cook, cashier, and "floater" (no, not that...you "floated" to wherever they needed you), banquet server all while in college; waitstaff post-college,...ran my own small-scale (very small scale) catering business doing private corporate parties, weddings in early 90's while "functioning" at my regular job. Last event done was in 1995 - a wedding where the happy couple weren't THAT happy...by the end of the event (think Divine Comedy, 7th Circle), both the bride and I were wondering what she ever saw in the groom/bozo! Called it quits after that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. currently in business for 16 years now.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          but first started in the business when I was 7 in Chatsworth California at the Cracker Box burger joint, as cook, cashier and bus-child. yes, I said 7. and yes, I was left alone while the owner would buy stuff at grocer or make bank deposit at which point, it was all me. my specialy was the tornado soda fountain drink, mix all flavors and serve. I also made a mean cheeseburger. loved it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          worked at Mannings cafeteria in Topanga Plaza Mall for about a year. scooping someones mashed potatoes and gravy into a bowl, got badly burned by creamed gravy and was sent home. returned to stupid management that couldn't care less so I quit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I've bartended, cocktailed, and served for something like 2 1/2 or 3 years total. I always enjoy it at the time, but it's physically gruelling work that leads to some unhealthy dietary/sleep habits. Don't miss it at the moment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I was: prep, dishwasher, line cook, baker, culinary school, chef, executive chef. 25 long wonderful years, two two star reviews in the NYT at places where I was chef and based on my menus, from college to my late 40's. I did a little waiting and cocktailing in the early days, but not my cup of tea. Never fast food, but did pizza and deli amongst other venues. I was always well fed and warm. Very warm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Still wish I could go back. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I worked as a private cook to a very wealthy family for a couple of years, and I also waitressed. I loved waitressing, I have to say! I was never in such good shape going up and down the spiral stairs of the restaurant to the prep kitchen below and up to the restaurant floor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. 20 years. Did everything at one time or another.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. First time - waitress for the lunch shift and bartender for the happy hour shift. In the three hours between shifts, I would do whatever was needed - some light cleaning, running errands for the owner, helping the cooks with prep for the evening rush, input on specials, etc. This was a family owned bar/restaurant, super busy all the time and everyone just did whatever was needed to make each other's job easier. This was just prior to starting college and was a fantastic learning experience. It was hard work but so much fun.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Second time - waitress for the dinner shift then cocktail waitress from 9 til closing. This was at a very popular club that did a nice dinner business (older crowd) following by an insane drinking/dancing crowd. There was great potential for tips if one was willing to hussle (and I was) but it was a tough job. It was known to be a good place to work (and for the most part it was) but people burned out pretty quickly. I lasted a year and half, which was about the norm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Do three months as an IHOP busboy when I was 15 count? I know, I was underage, but my best friend's older brother was the manager and hired both of us CHEAP.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: BobB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Why sure, Bob, that counts, if for nothing more than the wage rate. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. in (roughly) chronological order...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        --dishwasher in school cafeteria during high school (every student did some sort of job)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        --waitress at summer hotel on the shore in southern Maine (we all lived in s slum-like dorm on the property and waited tables 3 meals a day/7 days a week AND had to pay for room and board...)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        --bartender, then cocktail waitress; first jobs out of high school (back in the dark ages when some states allowed you to drink @ age 18)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        --waitress in a diner (I was terrible; could NEVER remember what the regulars regularly wanted...)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        --prep cook in a steak house

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        --hostess, same steak house

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        --cocktail waitress, same steak house

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        then...fast forward 32 years, to...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        sort of short order cook for very un-busy cafe owned by ill BIL; I filled in until he died and the place closed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And I cannot begin to say HOW MUCH I agree with this:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "when i become empress of the universe, i will mandate that everybody work in a restaurant for 6 weeks, so they understand how truly hard it can be."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Although I think I'd make it a year...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Currently work R&D as Food Technologist.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have conducted research as a Food Scientist, was a restaurant manager, bar manager, bakery market manager, ast. pastry chef, barista, and worked at a few fast food joints. I have been in the food business since I was 16 and haven't left it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Chef, line cook, tournier, garde manger, some baking, waitressing, and a brief stint at bartending that was just sucky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ah, forgot about my bartending, if you want to call it that. Backwoods CT, mid 70's, bar called 3 Guys, beer, shots, shots in beer, steamed clams, pickled eggs, grinders. One day a traveling salesperson stopped in for lunch and wanted a Manhattan. He had to tell me how to make one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We had a nice pool table though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. 10 years in restaurants and cafes now and I truly can't see myself ever leaving it! Even when it makes me mad, I love this industry. Server for 4 years, barista for another 4, got utterly sick of coffee and moved to the bar/trainee sommelier last year. My friends think I'm a total weirdo whenever I gush about how much I love my job.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Dishwasher, food server at a summer camp, waitress at a sit down restaurant, food processing in a college's central food processing unit (I made something like 200 sandwiches every day & wrapped them), "salad bar captain" (again, college) then fry cook in the dorm cafeteria. Ewww, smelly!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I went to culinary school. Worked in the industry as line cook and as a manager. I'm not in the industry any more. I refer to myself as a food service refugee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Dishwasher, server and prep at summer camp, fast food (Carl's Jr.), server and lead at a catering outfit, and cook-server-dishwasher at an Elks Lodge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. managed a chipotle for a few years before getting into I.T.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Waitress, cook, caterer and now am doing what I love most - teaching cooking classes.