It’s almost 1 year to the day since this incredible, crazy, passionate and sometimes stressfull conversion process began.
The first step was my “Initiation” – 1 CAP Cuisine (infact my actual diploma only arrived this morning !), 6 restaurants / caterers, umpteen cookery / chef books (of which my latest is a true gem – “The French Laundry – Thomas Keller”) and a 2 month stint back home in Newcastle.
I am now finally on the point of embarking upon phase 2 of this magnificent journey, as I have finished almost 2 weeks of interviews by agreeing to join the restaurant “Au Petit Marguery” in the 13th arrondissement in Paris. I will be the “demi-Chef de Partie” in a team of 6 (1 Chef, 1 Second, 2 Chefs de Partie – fish and cold starters, me, 1 Commis) where I will be working mainly on the Fish Section (having sole responsability for the section on Sunday & Monday, whilst supporting the Fish Chef de Partie for the other 3 days of the week).
Overall, the restaurant is 150% “cuisine traditionnelle” and “terroir”, with a particular focus on game (when in season….and now where right in there !). So, I’ve really got what I was looking for – small team, chef who is very present and who loves to share ideas and pass on knowledge, good quality produce (everything is fresh and seasonal). The only minor negative point is that I am definately stepping out of the “fine dining” arena….but then again, that could be the subject of another debate, namely “What is Fine Dining ?”. In my opinion, the only aspect lacking “Au Petit Marguery” is the presentation in the plate. All of the other aspects of fine dining are there.
Anyway, as a start to my professional career, I’m delighted to start in a kitchen where the emphasis is placed wholly on quality and flavour (the 2 main principles of the cooking of the much admired chef from my home region, Terry Laybourne), which many a supposed “Fine Dining” restaurant do not seem to share.
Just a few practical points on the process of searching for work and negotiating ones salary. Yes, the overall restaurant sector is having a hard time and thus people will always say that it’s difficult to offer “decent” salaries (especially for those starting out). However, the same restaurants are having a great deal of difficulty in finding “good” staff. So, we newcomers are in a relative position of “power”…..or atleast, we are not without a certain bargaining power. Listed below are the aspects that were important for me when securing this position,
So, there you have it. The next step starts tomorrow (assuming that the contract is sorted today), my family are happy with my planning and I am delighted with the quality of the team and the menu.
Watch this space.