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Job market in New Orleans


Christopher Haatuft
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I am wondering how the restaurant business is affected in Luisiana, and New Orleans in particular. I have some friends who moved to the area and am thinking about going there, myself. But I saw a recent survey on Starchefs.com, that showed that unemployment was almost doubled nationwide since last year and together with the horrible hurricane a few years back, Im wondering how that has affected the restaurant economy there. The discussions on NO restaurants seems to be thriving, though. Would it be hard for an European cook to get a job at a challenging and ambitous restaurant and does it pay decently? I guess at the top restaurants there (as anywhere) people are standing in line to get a foot inside the door, and the pay reflects that.

Do you have any comments on this? I am also considering NY and Chicago...

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I am not from NO but from what i heard they have more restaurants post Katrina than pre. To me it would be a much better place than Chicago much more affordable IMO better food maybe not as high tech as Chicago or NY. As far as pay I have no clue but its the best food city in the nation so who cares...

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I also heard it's bustling with young proffesionals and that the restaurant scene is very alive. As far as technical food, there's more to techinque than new equipment and unseen applications. I would love to learn more old school technique. I bet you can find skilled craftsmen in Luisiana.

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I would reccommend securing a position before moving here. I realize that may be difficult to accomplish from Norway. I am not in the business, so I can't comment on whether NO would offer better opportunities than elsewhere. Won't immigration be an issue? Generally speaking, the retaurant buisness seems to be quite vibrant at the current time. Good luck.ch

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I really can't speak to the hospitality job market, but anyone considering LA should be prepared for the general lack of services (like public transit, affordable healthcare, functional government). While cost of living can seem lower than a larger city, wages & benefits are correspondingly lower than you might expect. And thanks to that sucky public transit, you'll need a car unless you live near your job and/or don't plan to explore the surrounding area (know that car insurance rates in Orleans parish are among the highest in an expensive-to-insure state).

Try contacting the Louisiana Restaurant Association, which might be able to help you with networking.

Aside from all the negatives, you'll find a vibrant food culture in south Louisiana, where (almost) everyone considers him/herself an expert, loves to talk about food, loves to eat, and isn't afraid of anything fried.

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Immigration is not an issue, as I am a US citizen, but my Norwegian girlfriend might have some trouble. I have friends working in restaurants there now, so I guess I would try to get a position through them, first. In general terms, how much is insurance for car and a health care? Is healthcare usually not taken care of by the employer?

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Offhand, I would guess $1,000 a year for automobile insurance. A car is especially handy down here, otherwise you have nothing to evacuate in. Yes health insurance is usually covered by your employer, but I am not sure that is the case in the restaurant industry, in any case, a high deductable blue cross policy for someone in the their twenties shouldn't be too expensive. ch

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$1000 a year is on the low end for car insurance; figure on $1500-2000 unless you're carrying the bare minimum (which is inadvisable, as so many drivers are uninsured). I don't know if health coverage is typical for local kitchen jobs or not, but your friends can clarify that part.

I'm not trying to discourage you, I'm just struck by the extreme contrast between Norway and New Orleans. We're not an orderly, clean, or fair place....it's hot as hell (heck, it's 70 degrees today), wetter than a shower, and we have cockroaches bigger than Yorkshire terriers. Have you spent much time in NOLA? A long visit might help you decide.

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I'm not trying to discourage you, I'm just struck by the extreme contrast between Norway and New Orleans. We're not an orderly, clean, or fair place....it's hot as hell (heck, it's 70 degrees today), wetter than a shower, and we have cockroaches bigger than Yorkshire terriers. Have you spent much time in NOLA? A long visit might help you decide.

^ This.

I love it here, and I would never discourage anyone from living here, but it's fantastically different from anywhere else in the U.S., let alone Norway.

And really, I'm glad my dogs aren't too little. The cockroaches might get 'em.

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As a former New Orleans chef who returns often (to help a friend with his restaurnat issues), Generally speaking you will make a modest hourly wage as a line cook, and you'll not work over 40, so you can pick up another line job . Its alot of work, but then thats where the action is. You can break in to the "Name " houses as a line cook, and advance. Besh is great about promoting from with in, Emeril too. There's a lot of movement in the industry, so once you get settled, other interesting opportunities seem to pop up.

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I come from Bergen, Norway, where is rainy and cold most of the year, so hot and humid sounds nice. Norway is without a doubt a great country to live in, but as a cook , its one of the lowest paid jobs you can have, no matter what position in the kitchen you get. In your country, a chef can make a decent living. So, mayby not permanent, but for a while, I think it would be interesting.

*Edited to stay on topic ;)

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