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Payscale for Professional Cooks


chefette
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Yeah, just to be clear, I'm under the impression that the day-to-day work sucks pretty hard most of the time. But at least the underlying thing (food) is something I care about, whereas, say, banking or shipping are not.

I'm trying to decide whether to quit my serving job and try instead to work a few nights a week in an Actual Kitchen, although it might be hard, since my day job hours tend to overlap slightly with dinner shift hours.

Jennie

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Oh, and on another point (I hope I'm not appropriating this topic too far away): Am I too old to be doing this? At 23, I wouldn't think so, but %some of the reply in the Grant Achatz thread worried me.% I mean, it takes a while to get stuff under your belt but I'd hate to be unable to work in great kitchens because of age.

Excuse me while I look around for justification of getting out of the IT business before I have all my bills paid off... :wink:

Jennie

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Oh, and on another point (I hope I'm not appropriating this topic too far away): Am I too old to be doing this?  At 23, I wouldn't think so, but %some of the reply in the Grant Achatz thread worried me.%  I mean, it takes a while to get stuff under your belt but I'd hate to be unable to work in great kitchens because of age.

Excuse me while I look around for justification of getting out of the IT business before I have all my bills paid off...  :wink:

It would make agreat thread all of its own. Does anyone else detect a growing arrogance re and directed at older employees and career switchers.

I remember a recent NRN article (not linkable) where fashionable resto owners were quite forthright about their views towards older restaurant emplyees, and, I thought, foolishly frank, with their opinions regarding the place of older (mostly front of the house) restaurant employees. IE: they have no place.

I picked some of this up on the Trio Q&A also. Though more subtle and more institutionalized, which IMO makes it more dangerous.

Nick

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It would make agreat thread all of its own.  Does anyone else detect a growing arrogance re  and directed at older employees and career switchers.

I remember a recent NRN article (not linkable) where fashionable resto owners were quite forthright about their views towards older restaurant emplyees, and, I thought, foolishly frank, with their opinions regarding the place of older (mostly front of the house) restaurant employees.  IE: they have no place.

I picked some of this up on the Trio Q&A also.  Though more subtle and more institutionalized, which IMO makes it more dangerous.

Nick

You know, not all career switchers are bored yuppies doing it to indulge their whims. Some people switch careers because their old career dried up and blew away. Here in SF, there's a lot of ex-dot com folks who don't have a career to go back to.

Ageism is often nothing than a desire to keep wages down. Older people with more experience and/or families to support tend to have this annoying habit of wanting to be paid more money.

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Oh, and on another point (I hope I'm not appropriating this topic too far away): Am I too old to be doing this?  At 23, I wouldn't think so, but %some of the reply in the Grant Achatz thread worried me.%  I mean, it takes a while to get stuff under your belt but I'd hate to be unable to work in great kitchens because of age.

Excuse me while I look around for justification of getting out of the IT business before I have all my bills paid off...  :wink:

I wouldn't be too concerned about your age. I'm 37, and will be 38 when I graduate from CCA. There are a handful of folks in school that are even older than me. The median age at CCA seems to float somewhere around 21.

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Thanks for the links to those other threads, nightscotsman. As someone else said, a lot of frightening and exciting information to be had there.

I was 100% sure until fairly recently that I wanted to work on the savory side of the kitchen, and that I didn't have the patience for pastry. I'm not as sure anymore, as I learn more about pastry and it looks more and more interesting to me.

The more I read on this board, the less inclined I feel to go to culinary school. I had originally been considering something like the CIA or NECI, but I don't feel like I have 2 years to spend on a program like that. Columbus State has a program that largely consists of externships with a little classroom time (and from what I hear, it's cheap), but the problem is that I have yet to visit a restaurant here where I was bowled over by the perfection of it all - so it doesn't seem like that would be very worthwhile for me. I guess the FCI is still a consideration, but the expense is certainly way up there.

I've only worked in one restaurant, and it's set up a little funny (being a fondue place, there isn't much cooking of any sort going on in the back), but I love it. And I'm sure, right now, that this is what I want to do. I'm afraid the enthusiasm will wear off - I remember being so excited about computer science, and the theory of it is still very interesting to me. The disillusionment came when I hit the real world and discovered that the jobs available to me were more like factory work than anything. And I think that could be true in kitchens as well, but I read about chefs and pastry chefs who are dedicated and devoted and want to do things the right way. That's what I want to do. That's who I want to work for. And I like to think I could do it, and be good at it. (Of course, the other advantage food has, for me, is that I've always been obsessed with it, and that hasn't worn off yet; fortunately my taste has gotten better - when I was four I suggested, after watching a Julia Child show, that we stuff a fish filet with canned tuna and bake it - mmmm.)

I think I'm at a point where I need to do something real, because I've read everything I can find about what it's like to work in the business, and I still think I can do it. I mean, I've already given up my weekends, nights, and holidays. I have two jobs and, until Sunday, hadn't had a day off in five weeks. I go into the restaurant on my days off to help out where I can and to see how things are because it's pretty much taken over my life, even when I'm in the office. But the closest I've gotten to working the line is expediting and a little bit of prep, and that's not quite enough.

I consider myself lucky that my husband is supportive of my doing this and understands (at least in theory) that he will end up a "restaurant widow". I guess most of the reason I'm sitting here writing all this out is that I'm frustrated because, financially, I cannot quit my job right this very minute and go find a restaurant job somewhere. I just hope it happens within the year....

Jennie

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I worked as a cook (prep, line, short order) for quite a few years & supported myself & put myself thru college on the long plan. Unfortunately, I got an art degree because it was fun. I really enjoyed short order, but I had a super teacher/co-worker who could cook eggs ANY way (a guru of the over almost medium). When I got so, so tired of the hours, the hot, hot line, not enough pay and etc. - the degree was useless and I became an optician. Which pays better and has some good points, but isn't too creative. It became very boring as technology got better, and all you do is press a button.

So I went to law school, the only way I could see to use the art degree, and then tax law cuz I'm a geek. So far,tax law is way better than working in a kitchen as the hired help. However, I have friends who got culinary degrees and seem happy running their own place. We both work long hours. I would never, ever work in a kitchen again unless I owned the restaurant. (And, well, I wouldn't want to own the restaurant if I have to be the cook.) I'm writing from the west midwest, though, where small businesses are pretty much it. It may be different on the coasts.

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  • 7 months later...

MAN!!!!!!

Where was I when this thing ran???

Well, I wasn't reading e-Gullet, was I?

What a GREAT THREAD!

I laughed, I cried, I....

BTW, I didn't get into cooking because I thought it was going to pay great ( it was, and is, the only other thing I care about besides music) BUT, the best paying gig I've ever had was right out of my 9 month, Theory and Technique, and Practique course's at L'Academie de Cuisine, in Bethesda, Md. (it's now in Gaithersburg,Md.) when I had an apprenticeship that started at 8.50 an hour and within 6 months I was making 15.00 bucks an hour + OT! 50 hours a week, max.

Next best paying was as a pastry chef here in NM,10,11 years later, 60 -75 hours a week, 30k :sad:

It's gone down from there :angry:

Next up: trying to open my own, dessert based place. Crazy?

You bet'cha :laugh:

2317/5000

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Really nice - no, this has nothing whatsoever to do with comparing Denny's to anything.  The POINT is that regardless of your skill levels, the quality of ingredients you work with, the cost to patrons of the plates you produce, the responsibility you have etc there is virtually NO DIFFERENCE in how much money you are paid.  This is very very sad.  This is not conducive to improving the state of the art in the US.

It is as simple as "supply and demand"I don't know if this number is still

correct but 1% of this business is "fine dinning"and just about every budding

cook in culinary school wants to work at the FL or a similar place.This market is flooded with skilled labour at every level.

These are the glory days,the proverbial gold rush,and only a chosen few will get rich.Those that have the "GIFT" will flourish and business will be built

around that talent,the rest will do the mise en place.JMO

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Maybe not so crazy.  :smile:  Have a look at the threads on Chikalicious, probably on the New York board.  :biggrin:

Thanks for the heads up but am very aware of all those place's.

I said crazy for all the usual reason's. But, it's getting to be time to try to do thing's the way I see them, for better or worse.

It's getting harder and harder to compete with the "meal" everyone eat's in restaurant's before they even think about dessert. Maybe a specialized place where

dessert is THE reason is what the doctor ordered.

Thanks for your input, Suzanne F. :biggrin:

2317/5000

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I have to concur with Chefette's original listing of average wages for the restaurant industry. I say this both from personal experience in the New England area, and extensive industry research.

I disagree, 'though when she thinks fine dining restaurants have a higher profit margin than their fast food counterparts. Restaurants, In general do not have a great profit margin, but becuase of lower food and labor (fewer people on staff, not wages paid) costs, and usually no liquor costs or liability, fast food type places are a better bet for making higher profits.

As far as the discussion about it being worth going to culinary school. I maintain it defintely is. Where I used to work, we had several employees - some post-high school finding their niche, some older finding a new direction - who despite being well aware of the $ 7.00 - $ 9.00/hr they were making doing prep or line work, went on to culinary school. And with the combination of experience and degree, they have been able to pick up some very good jobs - in Boston, in California, and Colorado.

One final point - this one may be up for argument, but think it needs to be made. Most back of the house restaurant workers eat for free - sometimes from a limited menu, sometimes with a discount, often with carte blanche. They also usually have uniforms provided for them. That savings alone in food, clothing and laundry gives them a bit more of an advantage over the $10 -12 office worker, who has to pay for lunch and presentable wardrobe.

In the end, I think most people work in restaurants for two reasons: 1)it's an easily available part-time or transitional job while they figure out the rest of their life 2) they just love it!!!

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