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If culinary grads are moving to NYC or Boston to hone their skills how can the cost of living be to blame. Big cities are expensive places to live too. Transportation may be an issue in areas outside of Burlington, but not so much in and around where the largest concentration of restaurants are. Since NECI is in Montpelier, that doesn't provide students with many work options and some Montpelier restaurants won't even hire NECI students. NECI's internship options with good restaurants out of state provide students with more exciting opportunities than in VT, why would they stick around. Wouldn't NECI have been better off in the Burlington area? St. Mikes and UVM students aren't studying to be chefs. A servers hours, pay, and workload is much more desirable to them.
A line cook is rarely an entry level position and it takes a special person. When you're a line cook, it should be the time when your skills and abilities are fully realized and developed. It takes a lot of time and a good chef to help them do that. Very rarely are they fully developed. Not one chef should complain about training their staff when their job is, to teach, inspire, and be a mentor, not bark orders and sip champagne with guests. Don't make it about what they can't do, make it about what you can get them to do. Get back in the kitchen and do something to show you care about them like sweep and mop the floor. Involve them in menu planning, create a positive learning environment. There's a lot of great chefs that'll tell you about the many hours they've given to be a part of something real as a cook. Heck invite the waitstaff too I'm sure they need to learn a thing or two about what's on the menu.
Line cooks in VT have been marginalized by owners and chefs yet they're an integral part of the restaurant community. Line cooks don't enter the work force aspiring to be just a line cook, they want a fulfilling career where they get paid what they're worth. There just isn't enough top restaurants, skilled chefs, or room for advancement at kitchens in VT to satisfy their needs. I don't agree with putting everyone on salary, but servers could be obligated to tip out the cooks like they do a busser to lessen the pay gap. Even the city of Burlington pays their employees a livable wage of $13.94 with health insurance and $15.83 without, except at a BTV restaurant because it wouldn't be profitable. Maybe all the owners and chefs should rethink their strategy by increasing payroll, offering educational experiences, and or offering real benefits like paid vacations. Then maybe everyone will be satisfied.