The first job after a culinary school, how easy to find?

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  • Jul 9th, 2012 3:44 pm
Mar 26, 2012
36 posts

The first job after a culinary school, how easy to find?


I am currently working in a food demo program in a grocery store, cook some basic recipes. While it's still cooking it's nothing compared to commercial kitchen or cooking in a line. I am thinking about going to a culinary school (Humber's culinary skills program) as I developed a strong interest in the field. However, I have no experience working in a commercial kitchen and am totally new in the field.

I talked to few cooks and read similar topics in this and other forums and understand that without passion and dedication one would inevitably hate cooking in a commercial kitchen. I watched all the seasons of Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmare and I still want to cook.

My question is how difficult it would be to find the first job as a cook in a professional commercial kitchen (not fast food) right after graduation from culinary school if I ace all my classes?

Thank you!
12 replies
Deal Addict
Nov 22, 2004
1486 posts
as you might've guessed, there aren't many people with the culinary background in the careers section. i personally have absolutely no idea about the industry, but it's probably a competitive environment too.

i would suggest perhaps making a blog/website where you can put up your portfolio of the dishes you've made, pictures and what not. i'm not sure what kind of prerequisites employers look for other than experience and schooling, but maybe this will help you gain an edge?
User avatar
Apr 1, 2011
228 posts
Niagara Falls
I don't think it would be hard to find a job because the industry is huge if you think about it. You have the fast food industry(Guaranteed), the Swiss Chalet's/ BP, privately owned and the higher up hotels/restuarants. As long as you put in dues and don't think your going to run a kitchen right away you should be fine.

I also enjoy cooking and when I'm in a better position I plan to open a small takeout business.

Good luck
Deal Addict
User avatar
Mar 3, 2011
3421 posts
Exactly as mentioned above, you will have to start of small and work your way up. If you show promise and interest in the field and while you are working you will move up in the chain faster. I would suggest working for a large chain restaurant first to get your feet wet and get experience. Expect to be there for a good year or two before moving onwards and upwards even if that means looking elsewhere for work. You also have to expect downtime during the off season and work crazy hours and weekends as that's how a restaurant typically survives.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them up or PM me with question - I have my chef papers from George Brown and have worked in the business for a few years.
Deal Addict
Nov 8, 2005
2329 posts
I would STRONGLY suggest you get some line cooking experience. The turnover rate in restaurants is very high so you should be able to get a job in a half decent restaurant even if it starts with you just prep cooking and maybe even part-time dishwashing. I paid my way through school waiting tables in a 4 star restaurant and let me tell you, the stress that was put on these cooks was enormous. They work very long hours, work in a high stress fast paced environment, and get paid very little. Almost all of them smoked and drank an unhealthy amount. I would seriously consider at least experiencing some of restaurant work before going to school for it as it's something you can easily delve into without too much experience.

My suggestion would be to start applying at local pubs (try to stay away from chains) to get experience. I say this because often chains have a very set way of doing things, and the experience you get from these places is merely following a recipe or procedure that the franchise wants you to follow. If you work at an individual restaurant you may be given more freedom to experiment with recipes, and learn from people who are more "culinary artistic" than assembly line workers.

Good luck to you!
Sr. Member
User avatar
Apr 29, 2011
710 posts
Make sure to get your food handler's certification too! :)
Mar 26, 2012
36 posts
Thank you so much for your insight, guys! Appreciate it a lot! I started applying for dishwasher and kitchen helper positions, so far no luck as at my current job I have to work on Friday and weekends and couple of places I heard from also want me there on these days (and I would not like to loose my current job as the pay is less or more decent and I like the team). I already hold food handler's certificate as it is required for my current job.
Dec 19, 2005
338 posts
Tim-X is spot on with his advice and I agree with everyone that you need to work in a commercial kitchen in order for your culinary education to be of value.

If you aren't willing/able to work weekends you will have a lot of trouble finding a job. You may need to reevaluate your priorities if the job you have now isn't letting you get your feet wet in the culinary field.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Dec 7, 2009
13841 posts
Don't start at the dish pit if you've been to culinary school. Just get a line cook position. I think you'll find that 90 percent of cooks at non-high end restaurants have no education at all. Also the pay isn't great to start, so if you have student loans you may have to defer them for a few years.
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Deal Addict
Mar 29, 2012
1443 posts
I imagine it'll be hard, but everyday I check vancouver for job offers, and there's always like 3-4 positions for cooks on the first two pages for minimum $18 an hour. Cooks are pretty high in demand in popular cities like Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, etc.
User avatar
Nov 18, 2008
304 posts
One of my close friends actually just finished culinary school and quickly got a job at Earls Restaurant (not too sure if this is what you call a commercial kitchen). They hired him as a dish washer but he got bumped up to prep cook in about two weeks and now he's about to start doing his apprenticeship as per the Chefs suggestions/request. He used to work at McDonald's so I'm not too sure if that would count as being credentials as to why he was hired in the first place.

I've also heard of a couple of people who were hired immediately as line cook, maybe it just depends if you get lucky or not or the people you know. If it's your passion then follow it and you'll be successful!
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