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To be or not to be........a chef


Octaveman
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Greetings,

I’m new to eGullet and frankly not sure where would be the best place to make this post but here is where I ended up. This post is being made in an effort to gather information and professional opinions regarding pursuing a career as a cook/chef. I am a 44 year old an accounting manager by day and a professional trumpet player by night. Lately, I have been obsessed about cooking and learning how to cook like never before in my entire life. It all started by being exposed to Japanese knives then replacing my cheap Henckles with a well-rounded collection of cutlery for my kitchen. I now find myself cooking for no other reason than the love of cooking and, of course, getting to use my knives. A few weekends ago for instance, I made crab cakes, stuffed chicken breasts and Thai spicy basil beef on a Saturday just for the heck of it. Since I love to cook, I started wondering what would it take to become a cook or a chef and is it plausible at my age to pursue? My accounting side affords me to be detailed, strict and by the book and my musician side allows me to be creative so I feel with time and proper training I could be rather good at it.

So, what do the cooks/chefs in here think? Take the plunge go to culinary school and get out there? I definitely will need professional culinary schooling since time and a rumbling stomach has dictated how I cook at home. Plus I’m all for it if it’s a means to an end. I don't know what kind of pay cooks or chef's get. I'm sure there's graduated levels based on time and experience as well as the various disciplines. Speaking of discipline's, what are the specialties that are typically and increasingly in more demand? How long would it take to get working as a cook or chef? AHHH. So many questions, so little time.

I am very passionate about playing my horn and want to do something other than accounting where I could have that same kind of passion and enthusiasm in my job. Is a culinary career change the answer? Thanks in advance for all your thoughts and opinions.

Sincerely,

Bob

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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I hate to sound like an episode of Kung-Fu, but only you will know if you are capable of doing it. Cahnging careers at any age is difficult, though your experience would (I think) serve you well in a cooking capacity.

Regarding money, I'd definitely think that an accountant would make more than a chef, at least until you get to the upper echelons, where you get a cooking show and your face on products in the spice aisle.

I tossed around the same idea a few years back, and I came to the following conclusion - I like to cook. If I HAD to cook every day it wouldn't be fun for me anymore. I also know that I have authority issues. I try to play nice, but it has to make sense to me. I'm too smart for my own good, I guess :biggrin:

You must read Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. Seek out other books that tell the story of how a chef got to where he is.

Whatever you decide, good luck!

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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I have made a similar decision in the past year, except to pursue pastry school. It was a hard decision, fraught with a lot of "what ifs" and "buts," but I finally took the plunge. (You can read my blog from the link in my sig).

Roux's right. Only you know if it's right for you.

One option you might consider if you aren't sure you want to (or would want to) deal with the hubbub of a restaurant kitchen is becoming a personal chef. There are several members on eG who are doing just that.

As for schooling, see what's in your area. Or, if you'd have to go outside your area, where would you want to go. There are a lot of good cooking schools around the country, though some of them are pricey.

good luck.

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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Bob,

I think it is great that you have found a passion in cooking. I have no issue with your age. I do have concern about your night gig. I can tell from your post that you are very passionate about music. My worry is that it would be very difficult to persue both cooking and music in a way that would be fair to both masters. If you continue to play at night, and I hope you would, what time does a gig ususally end? Most day cooks start between 6 and 7 a.m. and add in an hour for a shower and commute you are looking at 4 or so hours sleep/ night tops. Don't want to discourage, just wouldn't want to see anyone harm a true passion (music) for one that you may not be sure of.

Best of Luck and Welcome to eGulllet!

T.

Tobin

It is all about respect; for the ingredient, for the process, for each other, for the profession.

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Own your own Restaurant where you can play in the kitchen, run the Business and play your horn for the patrons. :laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Thanks guys for the replies so far. I wanted to add to my original post a few thoughts about what I'm trying to get out of posting to eGullet. I may have worded it in such a manner that directs the reader somewhere other than what I was originally looking for. Of course, ALL thoughts and comments are most welcomed.

I am completely aware that to make a career change is my decision alone and only I can determine if it's a right move to make. But before any decision can be made proper research into the culinary field is necessary. I'm sure many people who are working in the culinary profession did plenty of asking around to find out what it's like before making the decision to go for it. I think that's basically what I'm looking for here. Below are just a few questions that easily come to mind:

1. Is it feesable to make a change this late in life?

2. What is it like to work in a professional kitchen?

3. What is there to do besides working in a kitchen?

4. From the time I get out of C school, what is the progression of positions in a kitchen and how long does it typically take to advance?

I know I will be paying some dues when I start working in a kitchen...that's a given. I say bring it on if I get to use my new knives (can you tell I love my knives?). I am also of the frame of mind that I have no problem doing the grunt work if it's a means to an end. No matter where you are in life, it all comes down to your knowledge of the basics and paying my dues will reinforce those basics making me stronger.

I belong to Knifeforums.com and made this same enquiry there. They gave some very insightful information and mentioned that I come to eGullet for more complete responses. In addition to life in a kitchen, they also mentioned working as a personal chef, school instructor, etc. But until I get some experience and confidence in my abilities, I should probably start my culinary career at the beginning (school then restaurant/hotel) and then progress to other ventures when the time is right. What do you think?

Accounting is no longer working for me and I need a change. The salary is not so much an issue as enjoying life which should not exclude what I do for a living. I'm willing to take a lower salary if I enjoy what I do. I know it will be hard work but believe me, I'd rather but cutting down vegatables than staring at a computer all day long. My wife is totally excited by what I'm contemplating and is behind me 100% should I choose to go for it. That's why I'm here today looking for your thoughts and opinions. Feel free to ask me any anything you'd like. I will be on this thread like white on rice because I am eager to hear what everyone has to say about a career in cooking.

Thanks again for everyones time,

Bob

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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Bob, 

I think it is great that you have found a passion in cooking.  I have no issue with your age.  I do have concern about your night gig.  I can tell from your post that you are very passionate about music.  My worry is that it would be very difficult to persue both cooking and music in a way that would be fair to both masters.  If you continue to play at night, and I hope you would,  what time does a gig ususally end?  Most day cooks start between 6 and 7 a.m.  and add in an hour for a shower and commute you are looking at 4 or so hours sleep/ night tops.  Don't want to discourage,  just wouldn't want to see anyone harm a true passion (music) for one that you may not be sure of.

Best of Luck and Welcome to eGulllet!

T.

T.,

That's a very good point. The real late night gigs don't happen too often. I currently get to work about 7:30 every day anyway so I would already be acclimated. With the three bands I belong to and the weekly rehearsals, I don't see there being much of an issue unless there are various shifts throughout the day that need covering. As I have no intention of giving up music...ever...I would have to make scheduling arrangements on those days.

I appreciate your thoughts and recognition of one's passion as it's very important to me in this stage of life to do what is necessary to be happy. My only concern is whether cooking will be what I'm looking for.

Cheers,

Bob

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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To answer your second question, go to my post above and read Bourdain's book.

Seriously. It's an extreme recollection, but you could probably count on it holding about 75% true for you as well.

Question 3 - Advancement is like with any other job. Depends who else is in your market.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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Own your own Restaurant where you can play in the kitchen, run the Business and play your horn for the patrons. :laugh:  :laugh:  :laugh:  :laugh:  :laugh:  :laugh:  :laugh:

Though my inital reply was in jest you might want to look into the Niteclub venue. Good food dancing and music. You could set the menu, do the books and play in the band. Don't know were you are but it might work. :biggrin:

Sorry, I see you are in San Diego, Still it might work. I was thinking more midwest, east from my far distant youth. :sad:

Edited by winesonoma (log)

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Octaveman-

I have given this thought much consideration myself, as I love to cook, and have

toyed with the idea of a career change as well.

One important factor for me is the fact that when pretty much the rest of the world is out at night enjoying themselves and relaxing, you WILL be working.

Most likely, that will include most ( if not all ) of the major holidays, your Wife's birthday, your childrens' birthdays ( if applicable ) Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc., etc, etc.,

I am also a musician, and most gigs I've ever done fall into that "rest of the world relaxing" time frame.

Just a few things to consider.

Also, I second the reading of Kitchen Confidential, especially the chapter called " A Day In the Life".

Best of Luck,

Steve

"Tell your friends all around the world, ain't no companion like a blue - eyed merle" Robert Plant

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I'll be following this one - I too have been grappling with the idea of career change. I've worked in several restaurants before, so have few illusions about what the job entails. Sure seems like it would be more fun and healthier than spending the rest of my life behind a desk.

Hate to admit it, but in all the research I've done it boils down to a money issue. Buddy of mine has ten years of experience and works in one of the best restaurants in town - doesn't earn shit.

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I went through the same thoughts a year or two ago. I love to cook and have even owened a couple of resturants years ago before I truly new anything about good food. I thought I wanted to go back to school and become a chef. I decided that I would just cook for the love of good food and my friends and family. I dont want have to think about food costs, staffing, portion control etc. I just want to share great food with the people I love.

Cheers

Larry

"My gastronomic perspicacity knows no satiety." - Homer

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I opened my own personal chef business three years ago, when I was 51. I was a very accomplished home cook with no formal training. I've made a successful, if small, business, and I seldom work at night. Feel free to email me to ask more about this, or I'll post more about it if other people are interested. There are definitely alternatives to working on the line, which looks brutally hard and best done by people in their 20s (speaking, of course, as one who hasn't done it).

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I too have been thinking about the later-in-life career change. Questions that have arisen include:

1. Can I stand on my feet for 14 hours a day?

2. Can I stand taking an 80% pay cut?

3. Is this just another of life's "the grass is always greener..." scenarios?

4. Is being a cook or a chef all that much fun or, like most any job, does one tire of the rat-race after a while?

So, I've been trying to scrounge up a part time restaurant job to answer those questions, while hopefully still keeping my day job.

And I don't mind cutting vegetables to start out with either. Just being around the team, in an environment where the exec chef is top notch, gives one the chance to learn new technique, experience new taste sensations, to contribute, and to become current with the industry of today, as compared to the industry when I was in it in the '60's!

doc

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(Q) 1. Is it feasible to make a change this late in life?

Well... I would say that it is possible - and from time to time it works out but at 44 many chefs -- like pro athletes -- are hanging up their hats, resting on their laurels, or making calls from the sidelines. This is a hard change to make. Like someone else mentioned your opportunities for success depend greatly on the market you are in and your expectations. Keep in mind that in busy markets the dues paying entry level people with futures are mostly in their very early 20s and have already been busy cooking for 5 years plus and associated with mentors of significance. Dues paying and progression in the kitchen don't necessarily parallel the dues paying and progression of the office. As a career changer and culinary school grad you will be an 'outsider' a dabbler. This is very difficult to overcome.

(Q) 2. What is it like to work in a professional kitchen?

You should invest some time working in a pro kitchen in some realistic capacity prior to making such a big and life changing decision. Working in a kitchen as a newbie is mesmerizing, thrilling, every day is filled with wondrous chef magic and it is great. As a newbie checking things out you will probably not be able to get in more than a day per week or so and that is enough to really learn the ropes but it doesn't really open the book to you so that you know the full aspect of working in a kitchen full time 6 days a week. Doing something once a week is fun and exciting, you get a glimpse into a different world than the one you drudge around in - but when you move there it is filled with repetition. You have to do the same chopping, slicing, dicing, tossing, sauteeing, grilling, saucing every day.

(Q) 3. What is there to do besides working in a kitchen?

You could just enjoy cooking. Cook for friends. Start a gourmet supper club. Have fun.

(Q) 4. From the time I get out of C school, what is the progression of positions in a kitchen and how long does it typically take to advance?

You get out of cooking school about $25K in the hole. There is no set time period or progression of positions in a kitchen. Sometimes you shoot straight upwards, sometimes you get rattled around in the lower levels for a while but never go anywhere. You just never know.

QUOTE: I know I will be paying some dues when I start working in a kitchen...that's a given. I say bring it on if I get to use my new knives (can you tell I love my knives?). I am also of the frame of mind that I have no problem doing the grunt work if it's a means to an end. No matter where you are in life, it all comes down to your knowledge of the basics and paying my dues will reinforce those basics making me stronger.

This is an attitude that - while very public spirited and commendable, especially in the young and inexperienced - will get you just about as close to nowhere as you can go (in my very humble opinion). For you to come into this field and succeed as a 45 year old you will need to be on top of your game. Sell yourself and your skills, management, accounting, organization, maturity, enthusiasm, talent to the max and don't ease up, don't accept grunt work don't allow yourself to sell yourself as an entry level lover of the joy pf cooking. You will need to sell yourself as a pro with vision.

QUOTE: Accounting is no longer working for me and I need a change. The salary is not so much an issue as enjoying life which should not exclude what I do for a living. I'm willing to take a lower salary if I enjoy what I do. I know it will be hard work but believe me, I'd rather but cutting down vegatables than staring at a computer all day long. My wife is totally excited by what I'm contemplating and is behind me 100% should I choose to go for it.

Don't be too quick to condemn your current life - and don't assume that just because you like cooking and you are thrilled with your new knives that you will enjoy what you are doing chopping down veggies.

QUOTE: I too have been thinking about the later-in-life career change. Questions that have arisen include:

1. Can I stand on my feet for 14 hours a day?

2. Can I stand taking an 80% pay cut?

3. Is this just another of life's "the grass is always greener..." scenarios?

4. Is being a cook or a chef all that much fun or, like most any job, does one tire of the rat-race after a while?

Those ARE the pertinent questions.

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Bob -

I opened my restaurant when I was 43. I have worked like a she-devil ever since, but truly love it. It was rather insane of me, because although I had a fairly strong background in business, restaurants are different. I did not make a sou for over a year, and I do not make vast sums of money now (5 years later). However, we are only open for luncheon and afternoon teas, 7 days a week. At this point, it would not make sense for me to open for dinner, though I hope that will change. So, although it is lots of work, the hours are quite civilised, and I still love doing it. When it feels like a chore, I'll stop. I agree with everyone about "Kitchen Confidential". I might also suggest "Soul of a Chef" by Michael Ruhlman. Good luck...

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Ooooohhhhh, boy....

I don't know where to begin, especially since much of what I wanted to say has been covered.

I'm doing what you're considering. I sometimes wonder whether I've finally found my metier, or whether this is just the latest of several bad career decisions over the years. So, in no particular order, here goes...

Age is neither here nor there. Necessarily. I'm just out of cooking school at 40, and while I definitely have moments of "I'm too old for this crap" I'm also outworking most of my younger colleagues, both in productivity and in terms of the hours I put in. As far as that goes, a friend of mine on another forum just recently graduated from law school at 53. Age is less important than aptitude, and the sheer bloody-mindedness to stick with it and wrest what you want from the industry.

Forget about your knives. I own a very basic set of Victorinox knives, and even those I wouldn't take to work unless I knew all of my co-workers very, very well indeed. I've seen too many knives go unaccountably missing.

Forget creativity...for a while. You'll be encouraged to be creative while you're in school, but once you graduate and go to work you will, for the most part, be engaged in rote repetition of your chef's standardised recipes. Believe me, unless you are specifically instructed to do so, improvising on one of your chef's recipes will usually be an express route to unemployment. The reality of an entry-level position is that you will see a lot of drudgework. Handle it efficiently and with a good attitude, and good things may happen. The #2 dishwasher at my day job is on the verge of becoming my third baker on a part-time basis. He doesn't know it yet, but he's impressed us all with his work ethic and we don't plan to leave him scraping sheet pans and silverware.

Oh, and what the others have said about the 80% pay cut? Believe it. Entry-level cooks make peanuts. In fact, most cooks make relatively little, regardless of the time they've spent paying dues. The exec of a decent hotel makes pretty good coin, and corporate chefs can be handsomely compensated, but these people are more or less junior executives. Your accounting training would serve you well in that sort of of a niche, but of course then you're back pretty much to your point of departure. It would be like me ending up in some form of cooking-related sales...a long way 'round to where I started.

This is not to say that you can't do well, especially if you're coming in with a sound understanding of how to run a successful business. I know a gent in Halifax who's clearing an income very comparable to a hotel exec, except he's doing it in an office-tower lunch/coffee shop. His investment was not negligible, but it wasn't huge either; he assumed the lease after the previous proprietor went broke. His food is simple and not overly exciting from the foodie's perspective, but he understands clearly what his customers want to buy.

There are many different career options open to you as a cook. A majority of them are nighttime gigs, so balancing cooking opportunities with your significant commitment to music may prove difficult. There certainly are day jobs available (I nabbed one) but they are fewer and farther between. Think seriously about what you want to get out of this career change. In my instance, it was the simple satisfaction of doing something that I enjoy (after 20 years in sales). I have voluntarily accepted the notion of earning only mediocre money for a few more years to come; and the concomitant necessity of a second job to pay down my student loans. If you are looking for a creative outlet, then you may want to go the entrepreneurial route like Abra or my Halifax acquaintance. If you are looking to build a stable and materially rewarding career, you might want to focus on a hotel or corporate situation where your current skillset and history will work in your favour. This is, of course, less than the tip of the iceberg.

As for the notion that when you *have* to do it every day it's no fun, well, that's what kept me out of the professional kitchen for a couple of decades. Let me tell you, even when I get home so tired I want to puke, I'm still enjoying what I do. Not everybody would.

What's it like, working in a professional kitchen? Well, it's roughly like this. You're tired as hell, your feet feel like they've been dragged behind a bus, you're trying to keep more things in your mind than you've ever had at one time before, you're trying to do them faster than you've ever moved before, you're trying to keep your eyes on more things than you've ever had to concentrate on at one time, there's somebody on your left bitching because you're slowing everything down, there's a server or an expediter about to spontaneously combust because they've been waiting on one plate out of four for....how long?

That's a starting point, anyway. It does eventually sort itself out, and become old hat, but a lot of people fall by the wayside without ever getting there. That's why I mentioned sheer bloody-mindedness, up above.

I'm sure there are lots of other things I'll think of after I post this, but that's all my tired brain can come up with at the moment (and all the time I can take away from re-writing bakery recipes for work).

I'll post again tomorrow if I can come up with anything else meaningful.

Please don't interpret any of the foregoing as an attempt to discourage you. I'm very happy with how my career change is going, and I like the way the next few years are shaping up. Just be aware that it requires a certain personality to be able to jump and run with this, and the sheer glee of cooking will only take you so far.

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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First, let me start by saying that I saw a few books mentioned, but didn't see "Becoming a Chef" talked about. I have read the others in this thread but think BaC is the best book on this sort of thing. It has a lot of anecdotes from big time chefs and their rise up the ladder. The new edition also has a letter by me in the front :smile: (thanks Curlz!)

I worked in the kitchen for a big portion of my employed life. I loved it, but it is very hard work. It is repetetive, hot, stressful, and the hours stink. Oh, and you stand all day. Since I left the business and went to work in a field that I went to college for, I look back and wonder how I did it.

Of course, the flip side is pretty damn good. I continued to learn until the day I stopped cooking. In a good kitchen with a good crew, the camraderie is awesome. You spend more time with those people doing stuff you love than you do with your family (which may or may not be a good thing). For me, being able to take raw ingredients and turn them into something that people enjoyed was a big thrill. People talk a lot about passion in the context of cooking. I'm not sure why that is, but you will soon realize that there must be something motivating you to put up with all of the downside of a culinary career. To be sure, the money, hours, and working conditions don't sell the job...

I don't know you. I don't know what kind of shape you are in or how much money you have in the bank. Having said that, I hope you forgive me when I say that you are nuts to think about what you are thinking about. But, I guess that's true of all of us! :smile:

Good luck and read that book! Here it is...

"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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I've never cooked professionally. I've worked behind bars and I've waitered. I've also worked as a building site labourer. From what I've seen, Chefs at all front line levels work as hard as labourers - I don't say that to sound dramatic, that's just the way it is. It's a hard job.

that does not put me off - I love food, I love creating it and I love people eating and enjoying it. I hope to create good food professionally as soon as my life will allow me, but it's a lifestyle not a job I guess

Edited by fatmat (log)
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Thanks Chromedome for your insight and to all the others who have responded as well.

A few thoughts on what have been mentioned by several of the respondents. Hard work is obviously prevelant in a kitchen. I sit in an office all day bored to death. I look forward to the day I can get off my ass and out of being on the computer and do something worthwhile even if it's hard work. The satisfaction I imagine I would feel for being a part of making food for so many during the day would be something that I'm not currently getting. Matter of fact, there is not much satisfaction in what I do anymore. At least not like it was when I started my career. Repetition is obviously prevelant in a kitchen. For those of you who've never done accounting let me tell you something. You do the same things all day every day every week every month. The only thing that changes are the numbers you work with. I honestly don't think repetition would be a problem for me in the kitchen as I'd be out of the office doing what I love to do and that is cooking. Competition is obviously prevelant in a kitchen. While there will be youngens' with more experience than me I do feel that I bring attributes with me that these people may not have such as a strong sense of dedication, professionalism, business knowledge, maturity, ethics, morals, etc. This stuff is not typically inherant but rather is learned through many years of personal and professional experience. Besides, I've been cooking since before those wippersnappers were even born. That has to give me a better learning curve. Low pay is obviously prevelant in a kitchen. Ah, this would be a small problem. I spoke with a few people including a former executive chef for a local Hilton hotel about what I'm contemplating and every one of them mentioned the low wages. As I'm not too far off from a six digit income, the wage card may be a tough one to play. I think this may be a huge issue that will keep me from changing to a culinary career. This is not about the money though. It's about doing what you love to do. I really really don't want to waste away behind a desk. So if the budget will allow then hurray for me. Long hours are prevelant in a kitchen. This too may be a problem as I won't be willing to give up my musical career such that it is.

I will still be considering my options as time moves along which also includes research into becoming a personal chef. I will still be around so feel free to post your thoughts even if this thread appears to be dying down. More posts from the personal chefs out there would be welcomed. Thanks again for everyone's responses.

Cheers,

Bob

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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Octaveman,

I joke with my wife that if I get laid off (I'm in telecom so that is highly likely) I'll go to culinary school. It's just a joke though. I can't take the pay cut and the hours would basically destroy our family life (we have four kids under the age of eight). I could be wrong about that . . . I'm sure those of you in the industry have found ways to keep your family close.

Becoming a chef might not solve your life - just give you a new problem set (which on one hand might be refreshing, on the other - depends on which problems). Maybe you could start by becoming say, a restaurant accountant. That might be fun right - you'd get to know the business and the people in it intimately, how things work, be able to cook once and awhile too perhaps - and still bill out at a decent rate. There's a lot to be said for being a dilettante. Anyway, that's my two cents . . .

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I'm a 39 year old who has recently moved from corporate finance (as an auditor) to writing and spending 1 day a week as a chef in a local high quality hotel. I have dreamed of being a professional chef for the last 10 years or so, and have now reached a compromise that works for me and my young family.

As as been said above, working just one day a week does not really gve me a proper insight into the life of a full timer, but I know that I come away from a split shift that runs from 9.30 in the morning to 11.30 at night with a break in the middle of the afternoon, I'm very glad that I don't have to go back in the next day.

I would seriously consider if you need to attend culinary school. Ask around the best kitchens in your area to see if they would take you on as an apprentice/commis with no qualifications. You may be suprised. At 44, you don't have a moment to lose and the sooner you can gain professional experience the better.

If I had a six figure income, I would plan to spend no more than a year learning the business from the best chefs in the country and then open my own place. That said, reconciling being a musician with the life of a chef/restauratuer is going to be very tough.

I've worked in a number of kitchens over the years and without exception, all the really interesting stuff happens during dinner service. That's the gauntlet of the professional kitchen and I can't see how you can progress in the industry if you tell employers that you will only be available during the day. If you have your own business and you want the satisfaction of being hands on, you've got another set of problems. Working as a personal chef will demand that you are available to cook dinner.

That said, if you can find a way to make it work for you, I just know that you will find the satisfaction you are looking for from your professional life. I can't agree more that quality of life is more important than money. That 80% (or more in your case!) pay cut doesn't have to be long term if you play it right, mixing your obvious business skills with your drive to cook. It sounds like a winning formula to me. Best of luck in whatever you decide to do.

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Bob - I too had just about a 6 figure income, and as I think I said to you by email, you'll never approach that cooking, no matter where you cook. You'll be very lucky to make half that. In my case I have a super-supportive spouse, and we have adjusted to having a lot less money to fool around with. Your life circumstances really will dictate whether you can manage the pay cut. It's a huge issue, and love of cooking doesn't go far when you are facing several thousand dollars' worth of dental work, a kid with special needs that has to go to private school, a near-death old car, and stuff like that. I'm really glad I made the switch, but if my husband didn't have a good job, I'd be right back there behind the desk. Money isn't everything, but only you can take an honest look at the changes in your lifestyle that this switch would bring about. I got rid of a ton of stress, lost a ton of weight, and am much happier than I was before. But I can't easily go to Provence to refresh my food memories, and we're having to think hard about replacing a 20 year old car, so there's a real loss of freedom. It's a very individual choice.

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