to the max. “You used to always be able to
fall back on a job in the restaurant industry,”
Jeremy Barlow says. “Things are tougher
now. The pool of workers has increased
tenfold since I got out of school in 1997,
when anyone could get a job.”
JOB SEARCH STRATEGY
The industry is projected to add more than a million new jobs in the next decade, news that
pessimists would call a pipe dream and optimists, encouraging and uplifting. Whatever your
take on these anticipated jobs, here are some tips for those interviewing for new openings.
THE POWER OF OPTIMISM
Still, it’s wise to look on the bright side,
even if some may call you an unrealistic
dreamer. “The good news is that the National
Restaurant Association says the industry is
poised to add over a million new jobs in the
next decade,” Jeremy Barlow says.
Optimism helps build resilience. “People
who maintain optimism and can see the
light at the end of the tunnel do better,” Dr.
Barlow says, adding that brain chemistry is
different if you learn to be optimistic.
• Anyone who tells me how good he or
• If you don’t have passion, go into
another field. Seeking fame or
money in this industry is crazy.
• Build up a relationship with the
chef by volunteering to come in and
Jeremy Barlow, chef/owner of Tayst Restaurant & Wine Bar, Nashville, Tenn., offers his
top tips for a job search.
cook for a night.
• Don’t talk negatively about your peers
or ex-bosses on the interview or on the
line for the first year, until people know
you and respect you and your work.
• Be persistent.
MJ Adams, chef/owner of The Corn Exchange Restaurant & Bistro and The Potted
Rabbit, Rapid City, S.D., has these suggestions for successful interviewing.
But journalist/writer Ambrose Bierce
called optimism “the doctrine or belief
that everything is beautiful, including what
is ugly…” And writer Milan Kundera saw
optimism as “the opium of the people.”
Still, people have learned to look at the
better side of things to endure, according
to psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who survived
Nazi Germany and Auschwitz and who
quotes political theorist Antonio Gramsci,
admiring the mixture of honesty and
striving in the statement: “Pessimism of
the spirit; optimism of the will.”
Have a professional résumé with current job references, not your
sister saying you’re a wonderful person. And don’t list jobs where
you only worked for three months, unless you only stayed there
to learn a skill.
Keep your personal tragedies to yourself. People don’t want to
hear your life story on an interview. Vulnerability is OK, but I’m also
suspicious of people who say everything is great. And I don’t like
know-it-alls. The way I see it, if you know it all, why don’t you have
your own restaurant?
Wear appropriate attire—a nice shirt and a pair of pants—not
flip-flops and a tank top. That’s a turnoff.
The National Culinary Review | September 2011
So, as you navigate this age of anxiety, don’t
delude yourself, but maintain a firm will to
succeed. As Dr. Barlow says, “Keep trying.
If you know other people already working in the restaurant, don’t go
overboard and advertise how close you are. I don’t want a social club.
And don’t have your mother or father lobbying to get you a job.
Ethel Hammer is a writer, lecturer and
cartoonist based in Chicago.