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Thank you for the time that you are spending with us. i know the young cooks like myself on egullet love these q&a's with chefs in the industry. I would like to ask a more personal question for my life plan. My ten or so year plan is set up to go something like this. Spend 3-5 years in NYC at some of the best restaurants, then moving on to your area of chicago where i have a friend who may have worked with you i think(i could be wrong) his name is chris pandel he works at True. I would like to spend 2-3 years in the city then i plan on going out to the west where i would love to work at the laundry and soem other places as well. So i got to thinking if it all goes as planned that means i will walk into the laundry at about 30-33 years old. Do you think thats to old to start at a place like that? When you worked there was there anyone of that age starting out there? I have worries of not being accepted because of my age. But all i really want to do is learn from the best before i set of on my own venture. So what do you think to old to head over there? Should i restructure my plan or leave it be and strive to work for the best? Thanks for your time.

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Chojwu12:

In all honesty 33 is a bit old to be starting out in that kitchen, but certainly not out of the question. You have to ask yourself if you want to sacrifce for that long before you develop your own style. Working in these kitchens are not often a lucritive proposition. If your plan is to become an owner you also need to build some stability. Most of the cooks in 4 star restaurants are young people. The oldest at Trio is 27, probably the same at TFL . It is great to work for the masters but once you have a strong foundation on technique, and the principals of cooking I would encourage you to force yourself to express your cuisine. Otherwise you will become stylistically chained to your mentors, void of any personal style.

Also something to consider is "learning from the best" Often times the "best "chefs to learn from are hardly in their kitchens, so you wouldn't be learning from them at all. Search out chefs that are new to the scene, have not yet opened several restaurants, or authored many cookbooks. All of these activities pull them away from their kitchens. Chef's that have strong backgrounds but have recently began to develop their own style are the ones I would seek out. Paul Liebrandt (if he enters the ring again), Wylie Dufresne, Luke Sung, Micheal Anthony, Laurant Gras, these are the guys I would look to make impacts in the future, get on their teams before the rush.

--

Grant Achatz

Chef/Owner

Alinea

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