An Industry Worth Getting Into?
Posted 05 December 2007 - 03:25 PM
My father is however strongly against me pursuing a career in the industry saying it is a waste of my academic capabilities and that I would have to work relentlessly for potentially very little pay. Do any people have any opinions on it (especially chefs training at restaurants now)?
Also would starting my career at eighteen rather than sixteen hold me back or put me behind others and is catering college worthwhile?
Posted 05 December 2007 - 03:38 PM
Welcome to the eGullet Society!
I will defer to the culinary professionals for their inside advice, but I can probably give you a few general observations. First, do not go into the profession if making money or an easy life are high priorities. One can make a decent living, but becoming wealthy, while possible, is like going into theater. Many people do it, but few really rise to the top. In order to make a decent living in restaurants, people tend to work long, hard hours and rarely get holidays or weekends off. All that being said, I know many people in the industry, who really, really enjoy what they do. As with any career choice, you should choose it, because it is something you enjoy doing and can see yourself happy doing for the bulk of your life. Of course another factor is ability and talent. You may not know if you have it when you start, but keep an open mind if that does not seem to come with time and experience. One advantage of starting at your age (you might not think so, but 18 is still young and you have your entire future in front of you) is that if it doesn't work out, you still have plenty of time to do something else.
"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.
Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life
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Posted 05 December 2007 - 04:39 PM
Posted 05 December 2007 - 05:08 PM
You may be thinking "yeah I want to work at a really great restaurant!" Divide the number of places you don't want to work at by the number of places you do want to work at and think about that.
A cook at a hospital makes more money than many cooks at upscale restaurants.
Alton Brown, Good Eats
Posted 05 December 2007 - 08:09 PM
Spend at least a couple of weeks working full-time in a restaurant, even as a dishwasher (actually, I should say "especially as a dishwasher"), before making a decision that this is the industry for you.
Don't worry about starting at 18. Just don't leave it as long as I did. I started at 43.
Culinary school is helpful, but in general this is an industry that hires on competence rather than paper qualifications. Get a little work experience first; it'll make the schooling a lot more valuable.
Don't do it for the money. And while I'm sure your father is a wise man - he's right about the hard work and low pay - you're 18. If after a couple of weeks in the dish pit you still think this is the life for you, then welcome to the kitchen, Newbie. Now get back into the dish pit and stop standing around gawking.
O que nao mata engorda.
Posted 05 December 2007 - 08:18 PM
The hours are long, the social life is none existent, and the pay kind of sucks...but it's the only job I've ever loved going to everyday, and for me that's enough.
I have a Master's degree in molecular biology, an yes, cooking is a waste of my academic achievements for the most part, but I'm happy, and that's all I really care about right now. Education is never a waste, even if you don't end up working in your area of study. Knowledge is never a bad thing.
Posted 05 December 2007 - 11:29 PM
on the other hand, I have a Diploma in Physical Metallurgy; so, now that I cook for a living, all those chocolate crystalization curves make TOTAL sense!
cooking is a waste of my academic achievements for the most part, but I'm happy, and that's all I really care about right now. Education is never a waste, even if you don't end up working in your area of study. Knowledge is never a bad thing.
I started cooking professionally at the ripe old age of 45 after 3 career changes, one marriage ending, and one kid graduating high school. Three years later, my other child has started university. As a parent, my recommendation is TRY IT! Go and work in a restaurant; front of house, kitchen, office, the works; whatever you can get that doesn't take a 4 hour commute each day.
If you can work as a dishwasher or cook, you can work anywhere in the world. You will rarely go hungry (if you are working), although your meal routine will totally change from when your mum was making 3 squares a day. But there is not so much money involved as say, engineering, accounting or investment banking.
Posted 06 December 2007 - 12:30 AM
Edited by Matthew Gibney, 06 December 2007 - 12:31 AM.
Posted 06 December 2007 - 01:34 AM
Thanks for the responses guys. In answer to your question ermintrude I'm only 14 in seventeen days but at school we were recently asked to write up what we wanted to do when we left and I said a chef. My academic skills are just based on good exam results and being placed in the higher stream of my year for some subjects.
I envy you. If you can spend one 1/2 hour a day absorbing the culinary arts imagine the skills and knowledge you will have at age 17.
If I could recommend one other skill set to pursue I'd say learn a different language or three. Among broadening your ability to communicate it seems to me you acquire "a thinking outside the box" kinda thingy. Even if you just scratch the surface.
If I could recommend two I would add psychology. Not so much as major in it but understand it. I think you can gain tremendous insight about what makes a person "tic", how their mood could influence a situation by doing this. In what ever endeavor you pursue you will probably need to deal with people.
Above all else when you take on a responsibility show up, show up a little early. If the bus driver's are on strike walk. If your running late let who ever is suppose to know, know as soon as you know. Dependability goes with professionalism. Your word is your bond, your actions speak beyond what words can convey.
Alton Brown, Good Eats