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grassroots159

I need some career advice

18 posts in this topic

I have worked at a restaurant for the past 1 1/2 years. I am the only cook other than the chef. I make $12/ hour and I still live at home, I'm 23 years old. I just had an interview today with the four seasons in Hawaii. The pay will be $17/ hour, but I have to pay for my own rent car, etc. I have also contacted a 3 Michelin starred restaurant in Spain about doing a stage, but they want me for a full year and they will pay for housing.

What should my next move be, stay at home, four seasons, or stage? And why?

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Go where you will learn the most. Get a bike if you go to Hawaii.

I know guys who have been cooking for 25 years that make $17/hour.

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Depends on what you want to get out of the gigs, really. At the hotel, you will be part of a largish brigade, and likely work not just in the restaurant in-house, but doing catering and banquet as well. Perks are insurance, pay checks are in no danger of bouncing, you aren't living review-to-review. Regular pay raises based on performance. Things like that. Downshots are there won't be nearly as much creativity, and learning opportunities may be somewhat more limited (learn this station, then the next, and so on).

$17 / hr in Hawaii is not exactly a living wage, from what I've heard. Housing is phenomenally expensive, so that's a consideration. CNN has a cost of living comparison calculator here.

But, seriously, if you want to do fine dining ultimately, it'd be pretty difficult to talk me out of going to Spain for the year.


Edited by Dexter (log)

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you say nothing about your objectives. Stay home: no, either way. Whether Four Seasons or Spain (my gut says Spain), need to know more about what you, personally, would like to do in the future.

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you say nothing about your objectives. Stay home: no, either way. Whether Four Seasons or Spain (my gut says Spain), need to know more about what you, personally, would like to do in the future.

I'm a big fan of the way Frenchie is designed when I ate there in Paris. Appetizer, main course, dessert; not many seats. If I was going to have my own restaurant, it would have a similar idea. I just want to make creative, original, fine cuisine at a somewhat affordable price. I need to move out of my parents house within the next few years, but I am thinking about going back to college to get my bachelor's because I eventually need to make more money, so I am thinking food science or something similar, I don't know yet. I do know that I don't want to be 35 years old with kids and having to work these crazy hours.

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I am no expert in what may be best for you if you want to cook. However, if you want to go back to college I urge you to do it now, and not wait. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to do

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"I do know that I don't want to be 35 years old with kids and having to work these crazy hours."

There is your answer right there...based on that, you better get out of restaurant kitchens as soon as possible. The hours definitely do not get better once you have your own restaurant...especially if it is one with any kind of ambition.

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Sounds like about where I was at your age. After spending my time in the trenches for 8 years I learned fine dining and now have a small high end private dinner business. I make more than enough for myself personally.

I would jump on the job and then down the road look for a high end stage. (Any chance for family support considering it's pretty much like going to school?). Especially after saving some money for it so you're not a starving student. Hotels are great for an all around education in a kitchen, you work everything. But I personally would not want to spend more than 2 years in one before pursuing the high end stuff.

Learn what works and what doesn't work before even planning on a restaurant.

My $.02


Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

My eGullet Foodblog

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"I do know that I don't want to be 35 years old with kids and having to work these crazy hours."

There is your answer right there...based on that, you better get out of restaurant kitchens as soon as possible. The hours definitely do not get better once you have your own restaurant...especially if it is one with any kind of ambition.

Agree. It sounds like you don't want to have your own restaurant, really. But you may be too young to know. You could go to Spain and find out. Or you could go to either job for a few years, confirm things for sure, and then get a degree--many options in food-related education. But don't wait too long. Pay attention.

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Make your choice and don't look back. Work your ass off. Take every shift offered. Get some pointers from EVERYONE. Eat, Breathe, and Sleep in the kitchen.

Just know that "creative, original, fine cuisine at a somewhat affordable price" helps everyone except the one paying the overhead. The economics of small independent restaurants describe a need for strict cost control and low profit expectations. If you find, like I did, that you can live with that more power to you.

Good luck.

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El Bulli? In a heartbeat.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 2

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You can always move back home :wink:


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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I'd do the year in Spain, if only for the experience. Picking up functional Spanish with no out-of-pocket expense is worth the year in and of itself - and there's also the benefit of as many as fifteen credits, easily $15,000, you can skip by passing a foreign language competency test.

Also, I suspect you won't much like food science. I've met a series of foodies who switched out of the major after finding out how little "food" was actually involved.

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El bulli is shut now so it ain't there. Adria is working on a food science wiki last time I heard


Edited by pacman1978 (log)

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Spain. I've been fortunate enough to eat at 2 restaurants with 3 Michelin stars and you will see and learn things there that you will never see in Hawaii plus you can travel to many other great restaurants on your days off in both Spain and its surrounding countries. Go to Hawaii and you'll be stuck on an island. Save Hawaii for your honeymoon.


Always speak your mind. Those who mind don't matter and those who matter won't mind.

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I'd go to Spain as well. It's not like Hawaii is going anywhere. You can take what you learn in Spain and be better off if you decide you want to become an islander.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Thanks for the link. I think its deader than El Bulli. Lol

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