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    Thread: Cooks/Chefs/Cuisine Experts, please look within..

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      09-28-2012 03:38 PM #1
      I'm looking at making a drastic change in my occupation... I've found that I have some-what of a knack for cooking, and thoroughly enjoy it. But, my concern is job openings and pay. I don't want to do anything that I won't enjoy, but I also need to pick something that is a logical choice and will support me and my family. I was wondering if some of you would care to share you beginning experiences and where you're at now (annonymously, via PM, whatever) or any other helpful information. I am by no means experienced, I've only cooked for friends/family, and have no formal training. With that in mind, I know I'd have to go to some culinary arts school to even begin some-what of a career. It's almost time to cut my loses in my current job field and pick something else... just trying to get some information before I commit. Thanks!

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      09-30-2012 04:02 PM #2
      If you are looking for a logical choice to support you and your family the restaurant industry is probably a bad choice. The number of drawbacks are so many and so severe the only reason to cook for a living is if you are so passionate about it you couldn't do anything else. The hours are long, the pay is low, the benefits are non existent. You will work on nights, weekends, and holidays when everyone else is enjoying themselves. The work is physically difficult, repetitive, tedious and can be debilitating. All experienced chefs have back pain, foot pain, or repetitive motion injuries. You will burn, cut, and scar yourself.

      However, if cooking and creating food is your passion, and the idea of cooking and serving food to people really gets your rocks off being a chef is awesome. If the idea that you made someone happy, even for a short time with the work of your hands is inspiring to you the industry might be for you. You will almost never have "another day at the office." Every day is different and challenging in its own way.

      Do you spend your free time trying to cook things that excite you? Do you try to seek out quality fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients? Do you enjoy dining out and trying to find the best restaurants in your area from inexpensive dives to temples of haute cuisine? Do you read cookbooks and menus of restaurants online that inspire you? Do you read restaurant reviews and blogs and try to keep up with the local and national and global food scenes? If you can answer yes to almost all of these questions maybe you should consider it.

      Just my two cents. Take with a grain of fleur de sel.

      Edit - just saw you have a corrado. Clearly you have a history of making bad decisions. Go for it!!
      Last edited by kbmdean4011; 09-30-2012 at 04:04 PM.

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      10-01-2012 02:14 AM #3
      Quote Originally Posted by kbmdean4011 View Post
      Edit - just saw you have a corrado. Clearly you have a history of making bad decisions. Go for it!!
      You have no idea..


      As far as the cons of the job, I can deal with all that you listed. My current job pays like dirt, treats me like dirt, I work pretty much 24/7/365 in all weather conditions (outdoors), on my feet, high stress, very physically demanding, dangerous, etc.

      The only thing I'm really looking for is a chance to actually enjoy my job, and have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day (but with those, need to make enough money to live). Money has never been my motivation, so I'm not looking to get rich; just live while doing something I love. I know starting out, I won't get jack, but if there's a chance that a few years down the road I'll be ok, it's worth the trials (IMO). I love cooking, both me and my wife seek out new things to try constantly, always trying new places, etc. Same with beer (micro/nano-brewering). As much as I hate people, I'm really good at customer service, and in a strange way enjoy it. I love the pay-off of completing a job, and knowing it was done the best I could. Cooking, to me, keeps me busy, mind occupied, I can get lost in the 'project' and do hundreds a day.

    4. Junior Member Meggles's Avatar
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      10-08-2012 01:59 AM #4
      Thought I would chime in with my 2cents. I was a professional chef for a few years, and just left my job for personal reasons to be with my family. I have about $10k in student loans, worked a full time unpaid internship for 3 months, and then had a job that I LOVED (because of my passion for the food) but that paid me a whopping $11/hr to work all nights and weekends. I was always away from my family - my days off my husband was working, and it was really rough.

      Also, something to keep in mind - if you truly love and have a passion for food you must consider who you want to share that passion with. Cooking has a way of becoming a job that you dont want to do once you are off work. I stopped cooking for my friends and family and at home we survived on pizza, wings, Chinese take out, and fish sticks. Not the life the family of a chef deserves.

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      10-11-2012 12:15 PM #5
      Thank you... sorry to hear that. It's really quite dissapointing hearing that. I'd like to do something I enjoy, but I don't want to be stuck with less pay and about the same hours I have now if I wind up changing professions.

    6. 10-11-2012 05:04 PM #6
      Cooking will be like your current job, only indoors. You may enjoy it though. I say try it if you can afford to live off the low pay. The experience will be amazing.

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      10-12-2012 06:37 AM #7
      Are there any restaraunt owners here?

    8. 10-19-2012 12:01 PM #8
      My 2 cents, if you choose to enter the business don't waste your time with little mom and pop restaurants. They may be better to eat at but not work. Go straight to the Hilton or Morton's and start climbing the ladder. Not only will you probably learn the proper techniques, a large hotel chain or major restaurant will offer some room to grow and maybe some benefits down the line.

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      10-20-2012 11:37 AM #9
      Quote Originally Posted by 2Jettas_524 View Post
      My 2 cents, if you choose to enter the business don't waste your time with little mom and pop restaurants. They may be better to eat at but not work. Go straight to the Hilton or Morton's and start climbing the ladder. Not only will you probably learn the proper techniques, a large hotel chain or major restaurant will offer some room to grow and maybe some benefits down the line.
      Good point, thanks!

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      10-27-2012 03:28 AM #10
      i would love to cime in as well. It was definately worded best by kbmdean4011. Its a tough job. Rewarding if you love what you do. Sorry to crosspost, if you want a 7 year briefing of what the industry has to offer, trials, tribulations, ups, downs, and what it has done for my life ---Look here

      http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthrea...Grill-Position


      Happy cooking and god bless on your decision!

      Pm me if you have any further questions

      Aaron

    11. Member 81type53's Avatar
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      11-30-2012 08:15 AM #11
      Keep It as a hobby! 25 Years In the bus. Look to do something where you can lock In some stability and pension etc.
      Beware the Arizona D-Bags, they know too much!!!!!! ... and Corvettes are over hyped American Junk, just so you know.

    12. Member Dream In Euro's Avatar
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      12-08-2012 10:31 AM #12
      As a restaurant industry professional, I would agree with most of the other posters here who are advising you to keep cooking as a hobby. The main reasons are the amount of hours, time away from family and low pay. Stress is another major factor. Why do you think so many of us in the industry are smokers, alcoholics and/or drug addicts?

      In my opinion, there are lots of people thinking "man, I love to cook and am pretty good at it, I want to try and be a Chef," who don't realize that 75% of your time is not spent on creativity, menu development and cooking. Instead, it's spent on analyzing food cost, ordering, training and other tasks. The Chef at my restaurant works 6 days a week logging 80-90 hours, on his feet, and doesn't have the time in his day to even think about being creative and cooking for fun.

      Keep cooking as a hobby, and throw a few dinner parties a year for friends and family. Experiment in your own kitchen, where the your livelihood (as well as your staffs) isn't riding on the hopes you can drop 3% off the plate cost of the ribeye.

    13. Member StayGold11's Avatar
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      12-20-2012 02:00 PM #13
      I didn't read other posts, I'm just gonna share my personal experience in the restaurant industry
      I started seriously cooking/baking 13 years ago at 21, from there I've worked in a lot of different kitchens/bakeries and essentially got my education via The School of Hard Knocks
      you don't really have to go to culinary school, but if your experience is limited the pay will be limited to starting at around $9/hr. personally I think hands on kitchen jobs will be all the education you need if you have a chef who loves to teach
      your circumstances with family and finances might make a transition into the culinary world a little difficult given you have no experience

      im currently baking on the side part time for a restaurant and my friends food cart, and I'm in the process of retrofitting my 78 bus into a food truck, starting small is best, as the risk and investment is low, then hopefully in the next year my husband, myself, and my sis in law will be opening a gastropub.....stay tuned

    14. Member StayGold11's Avatar
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      12-20-2012 07:47 PM #14
      in columbus theres a place called Food Fort, theyre ran by a non orofit that helps small business owners. They have a very large space where u can park your food truck, or even rent one of their small ones. first you have to take done free classes to get the city to give you permission to vend food on the street, but they basically hold your hand through the whole process. once you've hypothetically decided you'd like to make a few things and sell them on the cart, you can use their kitchen to prepare your food, and FF tells you where you can vend
      I think it's a great way to start small, get your feet wet and see if it could be sonething you're into, and to get ppl's feedback on your food you could maintain your day job and just do it in your spare time/on the weekends
      OP you live in WA, I'm sure there's tons of resources similar to Food Fort that could provide you info

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      12-21-2012 09:59 PM #15
      Not a chef, but I've been dating one for two years now...

      My g/f is a trained vegetarian/vegan chef. Some background: She went to undergrad at a great school, landed a job at a great law firm doing paralegal work, and was on track to attend law school - and wasn't fulfilled or happy.

      So she switched gears, moved home to save $ for culinary school, and ultimately completed culinary school. She interned for a few hundred hours (unpaid) as a graduation requirement, at great up-and-coming place on the Lower East Side. There were no open positions, but she was given a great letter of recommendation and staged at a few places in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The pay was dismal at $10/hr, 40 hours per week, not a minute more (no one is paying overtime to a line-cook).

      Fast forward to now... After a stage in Chicago and a job offer, we moved to Chicago (home for me) partially because the $10/hr here, spends like $15-20 in NYC, but mainly because of the opportunity, and the culinary 'scene' here. She couldn't be happier, and what she continuously comments on is the importance of the kitchen's culture, and the product she's sending out. The two combined make her happy. Additionally, she's fortunate to have a position at a well-known place with a "pseudo-celeb/famous" Chef-Owner, which is great for her resume. And helps us get reservations

      Her hours are 12-10 or 12-midnight depending on how busy and what day of the week, and then she typically goes out for a drink or seven -also dependent on how busy- and is in between 12 and 2. Home by 11pm isn't rare though either. Why is this important to recognize? My schedule is more typical: up by 7am and home by 8pm - the latest. It takes flexible people to operate with such different schedules.

      It really is a labor of love/interest. For her, being happy is more important than being paid. (most of the time)

      My advice would be to bring a case of beer to a restaurant you admire, offer it to the kitchen, ask if you can stage (pronounced stahj) or just hang around for a day during prep and service to see if it lives up to what you had in mind.


    16. Member arson451's Avatar
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      01-11-2013 06:31 AM #16
      Everyone who cooks for a living and loves it is a masochist. I've been doing this for a while working for some of Grant Achatz people and Thomas Keller guys. The hours are long and hard. 14-18 hour days are common place in the higher end kitchens. You will learn more at the Alineas and Per Se's of the world, but you will be paid less. You can go to Ruth Chris or any of the other the higher end chains and make bank while learning less. It's all about what you want to do and how much $hit you're willing to take while doing it. I've seen cooks yelled at, burned, berated and completely disrespected to the point where it should have been criminal.

      If I could do it all over again I would have gotten that mathematics degree. Having to beg to have a night off to go to a sporting event, missing your daughter's school plays and working with a bunch of alcoholic misfits does take it's toll. And you will drink or do drugs profusely. It's inevitable.

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      01-21-2013 02:19 PM #17
      My dad was a Chef for 30+ years, cooked all over the world when he was younger, opened a few resturants too. He ended his career running a friends place so he could be closer to home but we still never saw him. When I was about 17 I told him I wanted to become a chef too, he did everything in his power to not let me cook for a living. My mom owns a successful home based catering business for 25+ years. I worked my first catering party when I was 8. Its a truly a fam run operation. Myself, my brother and sister are still really involved.

      Maybe a catering business is something to look into to. It can be based from home (if your kitchen can handle it) and something you can have your family involved in.

      As for me cooking is a hobby/passion. I still have dreams of opening my own little eatery one day. I have been a vegetarian for 13 years and really enjoy cooking veg foods for my non veg friends.
      Quote Originally Posted by g60vw View Post
      If I thought like that I would have gotten out of mk1's back when they were still A1's
      Quote Originally Posted by goosler View Post
      screw all of you & your stupid cars.........see you at madness!
      I'm a 1%er

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