Since I left O* back in August, my work life has been much more enjoyable. I’ve got a lot of leads going on:
- M*: A catering company about 10 minutes away from where I live
- CC*: A placement agency for chefs
- AC*: A high-end cooking school offering classes to the public as well as corporate events
- Private dining events, partnering with a former colleague from O*
- BA*: Another placement agency for chefs
- OA*: A major arena with a VIP lounge
That’s a lot of stuff going on! As always, the names of the employers/businesses aren’t to prevent people from guessing where I work, it’s just so that my postings don’t get picked up by any automated search bots.
I walked past this place shortly after arriving in London. I sent my resume in and they called me back one day after I accepted the position at O*. So when I quit O*, this catering company was at the top of my list. Since then, I’ve done a work-trial there that went well and we’re working on a baking cooking class modeled on The Great British Bake Off.
I was introduced to this placement agency through the catering company, M*. Met with the owner, got on her staff list, and have gone out on two jobs, both of which I enjoyed. The first job was quite notable, I was sent out to Lords Cricket Grounds for one of their cricket test matches. While it’s a stadium, about the size of a soccer field, the entire day was a study in British culture. I didn’t spend time flipping burgers, I spent time plating desserts for lunch and getting together Afternoon Tea. Quite different from your low-class cuisine at American stadiums for sure! I am looking forward to more work through CC*.
This business is a high-end cooking school, a franchise of a very successful French cooking school. I met them through M* as well. I’ve done a couple classes with them now, and it’s a natural fit. The clientele is very familiar given how many cooking classes I’ve done in my time. And the pay is really good, nearly double what I was making at O*, with half the drama and triple the enjoyment.
Nothing yet on this front, but paired with a fellow chef, also from the ridiculously popular O*, how can we go wrong? We’re still in the development phase on this one: Marketing, planning, networking. Our next major step will be to register as a duo with the various London websites like KitchenSurfing back in the US. Margins for this type of work might not be stellar, but as an occasional thing, this would be a fun way to really try my hand as an independent pastry chef. Kinda like the chef’s version of a garage band!
My chef buddy and I contacted this other placement agency together. It’s more of a turn-and-burn chop-shop with a lower bar for talent than CC*, but they do have consistent work. With these guys, I could be working 100+ hours per week (which some chefs do this time of year), but I’m not going to! Plus, so far, they seem to have a hard time finding me exclusively pastry work; each contract seems to be about 30% pastry, 70% catering production which I HATE.
One of the jobs my buddy and I found through BA*: This is a major, world-renowned arena where all the top acts perform while they’re in London. Our specific contact here runs the VIP lounge. Again, not so much pastry work there for me yet, but I do like the team of chefs in place, which makes the savory prep mostly tolerable for me. Work is always so much easier when you’re hanging out with fun people.
With all these opportunities going on, I could probably work seven days a week if I wanted/needed to. But all these contacts actually afford me one of the things I was missing most at O*: Schedule control and flexibility. I absolutely control my work availability and don’t work when I don’t want to; I can book any vacation, at any time! And, interestingly, I’m actually making more money doing this sort of work than I was at O*, hour for hour.
So I’m back. I’m in control, enjoying the opportunities I’ve got, meeting a lot of other professionals, networking, learning (I did two new things today, I’ve never done before: Used carrageenan as a stabilizer for a mousse and used this automatic funnel to portion custard), and making some money. I can’t imagine I’d want to stay on this track for the entire time I’m in London, but working this way is going to open a lot more doors than working in one single place.