ANDREA'S JOURNAL: Good Help in New York City

Hiring good, hard-working cooks has been a struggle for Red Rooster. Don't get me wrong - we definitely have a solid, committed, passionate team of people currently in place, but with lunch and brunch now going strong, we're practically open around the clock and need more hands in the kitchen. If I could clone the folks we have now, I totally would but that's not exactly an option, is it?

I'm done with open calls, have washed my hands of them. They're time-consuming and even when I get a cook to commit to trailing, they inevitably don't show up. I just don't get it.

I've really mulled over why it's been so hard to hire. Our pay is comparable to other chef-driven restaurants in NYC so I know that's not it.

I wondered whether it was the neighborhood that was steering potential hires from our restaurant but I genuinely don't think that's the problem. Our crew spans from chefs that live right around the corner to cooks who train it up everyday from Brooklyn.

I've heard murmurings from colleagues at other restaurants. They, too, are having a tough time finding good cooks for their kitchens.

Ultimately, I think the culinary world has changed...scratch that, the whole world has changed. No one wants to start from the bottom anymore.

Old school meant that you went to culinary school, got a degree or certificate then went on the hunt for a top-notch externship that maybe did or didn't pay you beyond a small stipend. The goal was to hone your skills among the best while earning your stripes.

I've come to think that the trails that never showed up simply didn't understand how cool of an opportunity this is, being on the opening team of a restaurant like this.

I'm not going to lie to you - preparing and cooking for a packed house on a daily basis is hard work. Combine that with our high standards, and I can see how it could be intimidating for some.

The other chefs and I are now watching who's who in the kitchens, looking to see who is passionate and strong enough to take on the role of lead line cook or junior sous chef.

Those lucky few, if they stay on with us for a few years, will likely get hired anywhere in the nation if and when they decide to move on.

Red Rooster is all about opportunities, on all levels, for our guests and our staff. Opportunities to eat, meet, enjoy, work, learn and thrive.

Young cooks who are committed to the craft have a good chance here...if they can deal with the pressure. Chefs like Marcus, Jimmy, Mike and I, we climbed the rungs, hoping for a chance like this.

If you'd like the same chance, be sure to send your resumes and cover letters to hr@redroosterharlem.com.