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Career Doctor
Unable to settle
posted on Thursday, 02 September 2010 18:27

Dear Career Doctor,

I’m 28, a Permanent Hong Kong Resident that has been absent in Hong Kong for 22 years due to immigration.  In my 22 year absence in Hong Kong, I have obtained a Chef Training Certificate (2005) and enrolled in the French Culinary Arts (2007) in George Brown College (Toronto, Canada).  During that time, I have also worked 7 years as a Cook in the Restaurant, Food & Beverage industry in Toronto.

I have landed back in Hong Kong 4 months ago to settle professionally since I saw a very strong number of vacancies in the Food & Beverage Industry in Hong Kong.  From that I thought I could easily settle in the Hong Kong Labour Market, but in the past 3-months, I have repeatedly submitted resumes, going into invited interviews (including several hotels) and attending Recruitment Days; all those have led to no results or second interviews, which already leaves me very discouraged and unfulfilled.

Is it the lack of local credentials that prevents me from settling in the Hong Kong Labour Market?  Does my lack of strength in the Chinese language prevent me from landing a job in Hong Kong too?

To pass the time, I have applied for a Food Safety & Sanitation Course at LiPACE and currently also waiting for the Cook Certification (Western Cuisine) course from Penasia Continuing Education Institute.  Will local credentials give me greater chances in landing a promising job in Hong Kong?  

In addition, as a result of living a Western lifestyle, I also have a slightly larger figure compared to many natives, which I believe it may be a factor that impedes my job search.

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Anonymous's picture
Posted Friday, 14 January 2011 10:29 AM

Dear Phil

Don't ever regret any decision you've made as it'll only drag you down and drown you in the end. It's easy to look back and blame yourself for making “stupid decisions”. If only you had a better option/choice at the time you wouldn't have accepted this job. You needed the job badly then, and honestly, you still need it now! So hang on, you need to give it an even harder try, until something better comes up.

Do you know what it takes to fulfil one's dream? It’s only by perseverance, endurance, patience, dedication and an unwavering spirit and determination. It's hard, I know, I've been in situations like you too many times in my life and career. Listen, don't look back, look ahead! Our eyes are designed so uniquely that we are always focusing on what's lying ahead, never behind!

That said, we must learn from the past, learn from the mistakes we'll all unavoidably make, that's the only way to make us stronger and wiser!

Remember, the walls and challenges are there to stop those who don't deserve their dreams, or don't want it badly enough. I trust you'll become a good chef one day, only if you persist!

All the best,

Career Doctor

Anonymous's picture
Posted Sunday, 09 January 2011 09:16 PM

Dear Career Doctor,

I know it's been nearly 4 months since I wrote to this, but not long after I began this dialog, I got hired by a Catering contractor as a Junior Chef, in which I'm currently cooking in a school kitchen. I only intend to use this as a temporary solution.

Now, nearly 4 months since I started I'm about to begin searching for a new job as this really does take a toll into my after-work life (long, tedious and very costly commutes) Although this job does provide me weekends off, but the hours are generally fixed and I'm not really seeing myself going far with this at all, since I'm having trouble getting along with the culture of the workplace.

At the beginning of this coming March, I do intend to enroll in the Basic French Cookery Program (Part-Time), hoping I can at least expand my horizons in my career, thus allowing me to work in the higher caliber catering facilities.

I know I may be wrong for accepting what I did back in September, but I had to do it for setting a foundation in my HK based CV; I hope I'm taking the right steps to further enrich my career as a Chef (currently Chef-wannabe).

Anonymous's picture
Posted Sunday, 10 October 2010 01:27 AM

Why don't you walkin to fill an application form? I am sure that the manager will take a look at your resume. He or she will look at your resume and may even interview you right then and there. If they have no availability they will tell you on the spot. But don't go during peak business hours as you would probably interfere with their operations and it might harm your chances.

Plus, because you have been away from Hong Kong for some time. Don't expect so much salary for a cook. You might as well put on resume "negotiable" and you definitely will get a response and much quicker too. Good Luck!

Anonymous's picture
Posted Monday, 20 September 2010 11:05 AM

Hi Phil

Stop worrying about your size. That has nothing, believe me, really nothing to do with finding a chef's job, only for a modelling role and there are also plus sizes models in the industry nowadays.

You're so right, local connections take time to build, local experience needs time to gain, and once you've established your network, things will move on a much smoother and faster scale.

When I say walk into any restaurant and ask for a job doesn't mean you're physically doing it, only wanted to point out you need a focus.

My final piece of advice, even if your current job is not exactly what you wanted, do give the best you can as if you won't have another chance. You need to demonstrate not only your capabilities but also your passion and dedication to be a good cook/chef. Good Luck!

Anonymous's picture
Posted Tuesday, 14 September 2010 05:13 PM

Dear Ms. Chang,

Thank You for taking the time to reply to my questions and concerns. My specialty cuisine is French Cuisine, no particular region though. I can cook a lot of things including meats, fish, vegetables and even make breads and pastries.

Professionally, I do have a target in mind; which is to be able to work in a Hotel or in a prestigious club where high standards of F&B services are involved (ie. Hong Kong Parkview or HK Jockey Club). Of course, I do intend to be an Executive Chef too myself and maybe eventually start-up a moderately sized restaurant or two of my own too. Yes, I do know all the major cooking techniques (proven over the centuries).

It's not that I can't speak Cantonese as a whole, it's just that I have only really used it with family and not much else beyond that. Well basically, I'm clinically obese (5'8" and around 215 lbs.), which places me in Class 1, being in the lower range.

At this time, I just landed a job as a Junior Cook. It's a good first step in landing in the HK Labour Market, but I know I won't be using this in the long-term. It's only to establish myself only for the experience and foundation in this Labour Market.

I don't walk into restaurants themselves and demand for a job, I send resumes over to the e-mail addresses of the employer. After I have my Western Cook Certification, I do intend to start really establishing myself as a Commis Chef.



Career Doctor's picture
Career Doctor  
Posted Friday, 10 September 2010 01:01 PM

So what kind of food can you cook? What’s your speciality? While it's true there seems to be quite a large demand for talent in the food & beverage industry, you have to have something unique to sell!

Do you have any targets in mind? Say a certain kind of restaurant that you think you can cook their food well? Or in the very the least know the required cooking procedures and capable of doing it?

You can't speak Cantonese? This may or may not be a problem, it all very much depends on the kitchen you join. Large build? Most chefs I know are pretty big and chubby. Even me myself as a family cook, I am big! But to what extent are you talking about? As long as you are at a healthy weight for your size, that is most important. Be confident!

In the meantime, it’s a good idea to get some local accreditation to support your CV and it may introduce you to local professionals who can give you some advice and build up your local network of contacts.

In any case, you need a focus. You can't just walk into any restaurant and ask for a job. What kind or level of a job are you looking for? Mind telling us more?

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