Not many cooks can take the heat of this Echo Park kitchen

Photo by uberculture/flickr



The email newsletters sent out by The Park Restaurant in Echo Park are often devoted to more than just new menu items, with many of the weekly messages penned by owner and chef Josh Siegel offering lengthy and detailed insights into the challenges of  running a small restaurant. In this week’s newsletter Siegel, who signs his emails as “Chef Josh,”  describes the difficult task of replacing a line chef.  He has so far hired two chefs, each of whom failed to show up for work after one day on the job. One of the short-term cooks texted Siegel 30-minutes before his second shift was to begin, saying he had been admitted to the hospital. He was never heard from again, and Siegel assumes the man was lying. Why all the turnover?  Siegel said many newly trained cooks and chefs are not up to the challenge of restaurant work:

We are restaurant people, living the restaurant lifestyle where work is the currency of respect … Unfortunately, the new generation of cooks has been trained differently. I think looking tough by sporting tatoos has replaced being toughened by hard work.

The opening of many new restaurants has also made it easier for cooks to job hop more easily, Siegel said. “Jobs are getting easier to find and cooks are probably courting multiple opportunities simultaneously.”


  1. And if you are operating in Los Angeles, no matter if its a business or just trying to make plans with someone, you can count 70% that they will probably not follow through.

    • So True! Too many short attention span Transplants, looking for a brighter-shiny object/ situation/person , are prowling these streets.

  2. I have to agree…I’ve been getting newsletters from The Park restaurant for a year now, no pictures, no fancy ads, just straight talk from a food-loving chef who takes his food pretty seriously. You know when you’re eating it that some serious thought was put into it.

  3. Problem is, that restaurants are too cheap to pay a good salary for an experienced and/or educated culinary chef. They would rather hire some illegal or inexperienced person and pay minimum wage.

  4. It’s a shame few take pride in their work anymore.
    I love Chef Josh’s quote: Unfortunately, the new generation of cooks has been trained differently. I think looking tough by sporting tatoos has replaced being toughened by hard work.”That is so spot on!

  5. the problem is the culinary schools tell these kids they are going to earn 60K out of college, they all need to start dishwashing and peeling and work there way up. the amount of people who do not even show up for interviews is mid boggling, the unemployment figures are high because todays kids do not know what work is

    • so true Marcus (on both points). I went to culinary school for a career change from the office life and when I found that my salary would be 1/2 than what I was currently making I was OH SH** EFF that! it’s unfortunate becuase cooking is my passion but cheap pay won’t put bread and butter on the table.

      • Culinary school is great, but you will learn more working in the kitchen, i startted at 13 dish washing worked my way up and went one day a week to trade school, oh and I always showed up for interviews and work on time

        • That’s exactly right! Many of LA’s most respected chefs would rather train a person their technique then take a culinary grad. In the long run its a more sound financial decision then spending $50,000 on schooling to make $12 an hour.

  6. We empathize completely! We are going nuts at the Beachwood Cafe trying to reason what’s happening. We were blaming it on traffic, remote location (but not really), and even ourselves. Also, where can we look for candidates besides Craigslist? Those straight of out Culinary School have been more of a burden than asset to us, sad to say. Chef Josh and other chefs, managers, owners out there – I would be interested in powwowing to find better ways to recruit (or at least commiserate). PM: minh@beachwoodcafe.com

  7. Yep, my first job at 15 was in a retirement home working in the kitchen, started as bus boy then worked my way up to chef by the time I was 19. I should have stayed there because I lost my experience by wasting my life away sitting behind a desk.

  8. Hmm. Chef Josh also requires that the waitstaff tip him and the kitchen staff, thereby putting a portion of their earnings back into his company without any stock options. Chef Josh has a lot of interesting ideas.

    • Chef Josh, IF that’s true (about your demanding a portion of the tips), it’s just plain wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • This is false. Tipping the kitchen staff (dishwasher & cooks, NOT JOSH) was always optional for the server. I was a server there, and I always tipped those guys and there was always such a good team vibe between front and back of house. He is a really good guy to work for.

  9. @ marcus

    I go to culinary school and “they” definitely do NOT “tell kids they’re going to be earning 60k out of college.”

    You’re simply totally incorrect, fella.

  10. is there a reason why they throw their trash on the sidewalk in front of the bin instead of in the bin? it pisses me off every time i drive/walk by on my way home – i always thought the food was good, but i cant bring myself to go there now…

  11. “Tattoos”

  12. I love the park and have never had a bad meal there. I find their weekly emails an enjoyable testament to how much they love the food they produce. Im sorry to hear there is a problem with turn over, but it reflects how awesome the park is for never skipping a beat with top notch tasty food.

    • I went to the park had a good meal but when it came to my coffee they told me they had no milk….there’s a corner store just a stone’s throw away. Strange.

  13. I don’t think the are really cooks

  14. And what are they being paid? Defiantley not Chefs!

  15. I’ve been working in the restaurant industry for quite a while about 20 plus years and it hasn’t been until recently maybe 5 years that all the young cooks think they come into the restaurant and they think they are the chef because they cook something nice at home and they know all this techniques and so.
    Learning to cook from the beginning or being the new guy means only one thing: shut the “F” up and listen even to what the dishwasher is telling you. So chef Josh is probably and I know better off without those guys he will find somebody to fit the position and do it well.

    Every one with experience knows that is not about the pay! The pay will come if you work hard and once you work hard! WORK HARDER!!!!!! thats how you succeed in the kitchen .

    • I blame the food network. They make it look soo easy!

    • it’s gotta be a pretty shitty restaurant when the cooks are taking orders from the dishwashers.

      there’s no way I would start in a restaurant as a dishwasher. that’s absurd. as only a culinary student, i’m already overqualified. culinary students arent trained to compete with COOKS. Or SCULLERY. I’ll never be a better or faster cook than the random mexican dude making omelettes at Denny’s. Not trying to be. Not trained to be.

      I feel what you’re saying, tho, about the new Asshole Lil’ Chef who thinks he’s a badass cause he has a tattoo of a knife on his neck and is at home in his parent’s kitchen making duck confit or sous vide bison filets. i’ve worked with those douchebags, and wouldn’t be surprised if they bragged about pressure-cooking a beef tongue up their own ass. I’m all about LEARNING, and approach it with a humble attitude. that said, i’m not going to listen to a dishwasher about anything other than where to put my dishes.

  16. I see “transplants” and “tattoos” but so far no one has explicitly blamed this on hipsters. Get on your game, people!

  17. @Marcus… and that is why you get my business, because you and your staff are professionals and you are responsive-personally. I’m not in the food service business (anymore) but my current business has a similar work ethic requirement. Pony up, show up on time, listen to your clients, and provide. Get paid accordingly.

    @cccn no offense dude but you come off as a real bit of work yourself.

  18. @truffle shuffle- who do you think the hipsters are? “transplants w/ tattoos”. that was covered from the start.

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