LA Chef James Trees’ first job

(Originally published December 28, 2014 on

Name: James Trees
Current position: [Formerly] Chef Consultant at Hutchinson Cocktails & Grill

What was your VERY first restaurant industry job?
JT: Intern at the Mirage Las Vegas

How did you get this job?
JT: Through a school vocational tech program called ATTC.

How old were you?
JT: I was 15 years old

What did you do?
JT: We did the same rotation as the interns from Johnson &Wales and CIA. I was lucky to start in the butcher shop. It was insane… Those guys were like lightning! 2000 filet a day was an easy one. It was an eye opener for sure. They made sausage in a grinder that would hold 3 people.

How long did you have this job?
JT: My internship was 6 months, then I was hired around my 16th birthday. I kept this job until I was 19 and I rotated around the kitchens finally settling at the Italian kitchen Onda with chef Luke Palladino.

Did your responsibilities evolve?
JT: Peeling garlic, chopping parsley, making mayonnaise, tomato sauce, straining stocks and organizing the walk in and dry storage.. Eventually I was butchering fish, working stations but I learned you don’t get promoted, you just get more to do.

What did you take away from this job?
JT: Work your arse off everyday and you will get to learn something new… Don’t and you will be stuck doing the same thing until you quit.

If and how did your first job inspire you to pursue a career as a chef?
JT: Luke was the chef I wanted to be; he went to CIA and he wrote me a letter of recommendation. I knew this is what I wanted to do since I was 16. I feel lucky to have found my passion early in life.

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