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Working in the Restaurant Industry while Paleo

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 27, 2010 at 1:44 AM

Does anyone here work in a SAD (Standard American Diet) restaurant? After years of working in food service as a baker/cook/server/you-name-it, from corporate chain restaurant hellhole to vegan wholefoods cafe, and vowing I would get out and getting a degree, I'm thinking I might start looking for part-time restaurant work again to supplement my other job. So I can pay off my student loans. And get another degree. Or at least afford more grass-fed meat. Yes, I'm crazy.

I'd prefer to work in the back of the house. How do you feel about making food for people that you know is unhealthful (even if it's SAD "healthy")? Do you feel like a sellout or is it just business and you let people worry about their own dietary choices?

I believe in knowing what the food I'm serving tastes like, so I would do some tasting in order to make sure the quality is where it should be, but how do you keep from eating too much crap? Most places you can put together an employee meal that would fit into paleo but it is it possible to fly under the radar and not stick out as too odd, in say, an Italian restaurant? That's what I'm thinking of applying for--lots of experience. And there aren't too many alternative places to eat where I live. Not that I've heard of a pure paleo restaurant anyway, but in any case there won't be any here anytime soon.

D738a5b2a67f3c36518a2ac9f32d27af

(821)

on May 29, 2010
at 04:48 PM

Good suggestions, but no, I live in a medium-sized city whose attitude is more like a small town. And since I already work full-time and am "over" working in restaurants (did lots of thankless recipe development, was basically a consultant for free above and beyond my regular pay, etc.), I'd rather put my energies into my own life, and not into my part-time. More power to others who have the energy to do this though.

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8 Answers

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5
81fcc960b31d4dcab4807b85ae667aa7

on May 27, 2010
at 01:53 PM

I've worked as a waitress at the same restaurant for the last four years... my "supplemental" income to fund medical school. :) We're all outdoor seating restaurant, on the lake, and there is honestly nothing that beats watching the sunset go down over dinner. Hah - that part feels pretty paleo. :)

Luckily, the food isn't too far off either. Or at least some of it. We're primarily a sea food restaurant, so we have fresh alaskan halibut, mahi, tilapia, ponga, shrimp, calamari, cod, catfish, scallops, crab, really the list goes on an on. We also have great burgers, chicken, and salads. You can make it paleo by ordering it grilled, but we stray from that when you get things fried, with fries, and a bun. I won't get started on the slushies, ice cream, and treats we sell, because obviously that's pretty representative of your SAD (of course you need a 16 oz chocolate malt with your waffle fries, fried fish, and 1/2 cup ketchup you just poured on your plate....)

We all eat family style at the end of the night, and can pretty much order whatever we want, however we want it cooked. I typically get grilled shrimp on a kale/cabbage salad, lots of the homemade salsa, lemon juice, and (very non-paleo) Frank's hot sauce. When people ask for recommendations, I can describe all the fish no problem, because they're obviously not asking what a french fry tastes like. I'm sure they've eaten enough to know. ;) I don't feel "guilty" working at a place that serves very non-paleo things, as obviously 97% of the world is non-paleo. My diet is my choice, but I'm not making that decision for anyone else.

Sorry - long winded answer!!

3
8347d512bca9b034d53da40dab8cd21c

on May 27, 2010
at 11:49 AM

I work in a restaurant that I suppose would be considered SAD, although we have some of the best sushi in the area (every day the fish is flown in!) and some very healthy alternatives as well as dishes that are completely non-Paleo.

I look at it this way: everyone's going to make their own choices, and I'm not about preaching the gospel of Paleo to anybody. I understand that macaroni and cheese, when made with five cheeses and herb crust, is absolutely delicious. But it's not my choice to eat it.

I make desserts for people every day I work, and nothing (save for a bowl of berries, which I love) is Paleo. It's homemade ice creams and sorbets and tarts and such -- and yeah, I have to taste all of it. Given that I stay very strict in the rest of my life, having to taste these few items (and I'm talking spoonfuls, not whole portions by any means) is a mere fraction. I'm not beating myself up over that.

As far as family meal/employee meal goes, I've been bringing my own since I went Paleo in January. They offer a salad sometimes, but I am taking no chances whatsoever. It's just easier to bring my own food, heat it up (sometimes) and field questions on how long I've been "on my diet." :)

2
F82f7d4dafb6d0ffc4c2ee2a85420786

(484)

on May 28, 2010
at 02:58 AM

I have a bit of the same issue when I bake for others. It's a hobby, it makes people happy and they enjoy what I make. Part of me says I am ignoring my own beliefs, and the other part says 'hey, if people are going to eat conventionally, let them, and give them stuff you've made with love, and fresh ingredients like butter.' And yes, I do generally have to taste the cakes or cookies, but I figure, a few bites won't kill me.

1
7df8f3cc7f1475c3ecbbd4a4feb87d04

(514)

on May 29, 2010
at 04:09 PM

This would require more work on your part, but would you be able to soak / specially prepare some of the grains and legumes? Here's an interesting post about the process: https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=1629175743855013102&postID=1303203575774554906

If your restaurant is in a bigger city where a segment of the population is health-conscious, maybe the restaurant could even start advertising your methods to lure in that niche.

D738a5b2a67f3c36518a2ac9f32d27af

(821)

on May 29, 2010
at 04:48 PM

Good suggestions, but no, I live in a medium-sized city whose attitude is more like a small town. And since I already work full-time and am "over" working in restaurants (did lots of thankless recipe development, was basically a consultant for free above and beyond my regular pay, etc.), I'd rather put my energies into my own life, and not into my part-time. More power to others who have the energy to do this though.

1
B3c0950cd33bf7689ca0b98e5f2b6cdc

(588)

on May 29, 2010
at 03:26 PM

I've worked as a bartender while being a non-drinker. Somehow that made it all the easier - watching what people were doing to themselves with hard liquor.

1
0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on May 28, 2010
at 07:52 PM

It doesn't work if its forced on people. Go work and earn a buck. You- We can't watch over everyone.

1
64c41a128b1865f595f9891bb9f13982

(40)

on May 27, 2010
at 05:35 AM

to live your life you must work - working is not always what is best for you - so consider the work temp. Do your very best while there and get out quickly if you can. Think of the positive changes that you could make!

0
7431586c21bca496c5a7ec7bd0ca4d6e

(974)

on May 27, 2010
at 08:10 AM

every job has its drawbacks...

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