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getting out of the kitchen


chefmatt
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This is probably the wrong thread to open this up on but the restaurant life thread sounds mainly U.S. based.

I have been head chef of a michelin starred restaurant for the last four years and after thinking long and hard have made several lifestyle choices, the up shot of which is that i am leaving at the end of Jan and am in need of some employment.

I was hoping for some suggestions as to where to apply my food knowledge without having to be chained to the stove for 17 hours a day. Rewarding as it is it can really get to you after 8 years in the same place.

I am willing to take a considerable paycut as i realise i am inexperienced in other areas of the industry. Recruitment companies are just desperate to push me into either another head chef position or contract catering which i would consider but is far from ideal, they obviously want to make the biggest commission out of me.

I am sure i will eventually end up back in the kitchen but for the mean time i need something slightly less physically demanding. I have considered consultancy, food development and poossibly magazines. Anyone got any advice?

Matt

Matt Christmas.

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Head chef of a Michelin starred resturant should have pretty big selling power if you would consider teaching.

You would be in the kitchen, but hours would be reasonable and the pay would probably be pretty ok.

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I quite like the idea of teaching but only if people really want to learn! I think like many chefs i don't suffer fools gladly. I think going into a different arm of the catering industry i may have to work on my patience and my people skills!

Matt Christmas.

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I quite like the idea of teaching but only if people really want to learn!  I think like many chefs i don't suffer fools gladly.  I think going into a different arm of the catering industry i may have to work on my patience and my people skills!

Matt, I left the restaurant kitchen in 2002, and as you rightly suggest, the way a top professional kitchen works cannot be simply transferred to other areas of the catering industry. Patience, people skills, communication and acceptance of new ways to work all have to be considered and taken on board.

I researched moving into New Product Development very seriously. NPD is great in that you will bring your ideas to a much wider audience, and would also be beneficial to your self development. It would arm you with a range of new skills, and the pay is not meagre by anyone's standards. Companies such as Geest are always on the look out for top restaurant and hotel chefs to help fill the gap in a massively expanding market. Focus Management are a good agency to get you going.

Another idea, and one that I have followed, is becoming a Personal Chef. Again, this is very different to restaurant cooking as you cooking what the client wants rather than what you want to cook, and that you have to be extremely adaptable and willing to work at very short notice. Nevertheless, I have been a Personal Chef for over 5 years now and it provides me with great variety in my cooking. It also gives me the opportunity to travel abroad to cook at holiday homes, meet people I would never of dreamt meeting, improved my social skills, have a cookery book published privately and earn a very good living. Their are several good agencies dealing with this specialist area, but the best jobs come through word of mouth.

Taste is everything

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Hi Matt,

I would agree with Patrick above, a personal chef or new product developer could be a good route for you whilst not killing you financially. You may also want to consider looking at taking a role as a buyer for one of the large supermarket chains or department stores such as Selfridges.

I would also recommend considering working in corporate catering. I know a number of chefs who have stepped into this and are now enjoying a much more laid back 8am-4pm job (with very rare evening work), still get to cook more or less what they want and who are earning very nicely. They also have time to do work on private basis outside of this if they want to as they are working less hours.

Good luck with it all though!

If a man makes a statement and a woman is not around to witness it, is he still wrong?

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thanks guys,

the private chef sounds very appealing, how do you go about finding what is around? also, being married i am not as flexible as i used to be.

i like the idea of buying, especially for one of the higher quality companies, thanks ravelda.

i am already on the case with NPD but i am not sure it is for me, i need to find a little more about it, i fear it may be too restrictive.

Matt Christmas.

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Teaching sounds like a good idea. You could always do it part time at first while taking a break from the kitchen to see if you like it or not. In the meantime you can sit back, figure out what/where you want to take your career and make an informed decision. What about running cookery classes for the average joe? Not professional training classes I mean!

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I recommend becomming a private chef. I took a break from running a kitchen to work for a single family. The hours are great, pay is better, and its stress free compared to a restaurant kitchen. Research domestic staffing agencies in your country. I did it for 8 yrs, got back into the restaurant game and after two years, considering returning back to the private chef sector. I blogged briefly about my experiences on EG a couple of years ago.

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matt: where do you live? If you are in Canada or the USA, check out the US Personal Chef websites.

I got into the food industry at the age of 45, as a personal chef. It's an interesting side of the biz, as it is very customer driven, and also the hours are good. As a private contractor, you set the hours during which you will work, and like-minded customers will find you. In my business I have a few clients who have large functions once or twice a year, a weekly gig at an institution, two regular clients I work for once a month doing cooking demos, and occasional special catering. I also do occasional one-on-one lessons.

Compared to regular resto kitchens or catering, the PC route is a different world. It requires an amount of flexibility, because you work in the client's kitchen. But it IS a way of having daytime hours, shorter days, no kitchen rent/lease... and a decent hourly rate.

p.s., I started the bus. when I was a single mom of teenagers, and am now married & still running my business.

Karen Dar Woon

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You could always start a restaurant consulting company,,, and set your own hours, work from home ect.

I have to say, to me that sounds like one of those "easier said than done" things. Could just be me misunderstanding the term, or the industry as a whole: what does a restaurant consultant do? Is it really reasonable to just give up a cooking job and simply decide to consult? How do you drum up business? OK, maybe this belongs in a separate thread...

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I always keep an eye out for your postings in the uk forum, hope your going to stay on at egullet.

have you already left the stoves and where were you cooking?

“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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thanks again everybody, you have all given me a few things to think about.

i think if i was ever going to start my own business it would be a pub or restaurant but at the moment i want to avoid stress and would rather be in someone's employ.

ahhh thanks Adey, most of my posts are when i get annoyed by something and EG is a vent for my frustrations so i end up ranting!

I finish next friday and after the three days i have just had it is certainly not before time. Some of my chefs seem to have lost the ability to cook and make sensible decisions over the last few days!

I have tried to avoid telling people where i work as the anonymity grants me a certain freedom of speech not allowed when i have my boss to think about. It seems like there is no harm coming out now i am leaving.

I am head chef of a restaurant in Wandsworth Common, South London

Matt Christmas.

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Matt

London based agencies Hutchinsons and Greycoat Placements are the best in my opinion. You could also try "The Lady" magazine. Solid references and showing an ability to be flexible in your cooking are a must.

Taste is everything

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i have been pushed towards contract but for a couple of personal reasons i feel i really need a break from cooking, thats why i like the idea of consulting or buying.

but, yes, some of the contract stuff looks really attractive and would certainly help on the hours front.

where are you cooking now simon?

Matt Christmas.

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Matt, I will have a chat with my brother in-law who used an agency and ended up being offered a job as buyer for Selfridges both for their foodhall and thier restaurants. from what I hear there are buyer jobs out there and for those brands looking to develop and maintain a brand considered amongst the finest in the business, someone with your pedigree must be looked at favourably. Feel free to PM me if you want me to ask a few questions.

If a man makes a statement and a woman is not around to witness it, is he still wrong?

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