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Any chefs, cooks or food business professionals around here? Question for you

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posted on Aug, 23 2015 @ 03:05 PM
I'm guessing not that many, but what the heck,
I am looking to change direction work wise, and have pondered about doing some cookery courses as I am a good-food lover and enjoy coming up with new recipes.
Serious Professional courses which offer proper diplomas and certificates are crazily expensive and out of my budget and they are full time meaning that I would need to quit my job, I am paying rent and cant really afford to go months without a salary.
There is quite a large selection of short courses, (3 day intensives, evening 1 night a week for 6 weeks, etc..) that focus on certain types of food, or general food preparation. But Im not really sure what value these certificates have if I wanna look for work after that.

Is it really worth it to sacrifice so much money and time on a serious professional course?

What puts me off as well is that I hear so many horror stories on how being a full time cook in most restaurants is so crazily stressful.
I guess what Id really like is to own my little restaurant someday and/or being able to create dishes without all the stress and hassle.
Maybe work for a private rich family or on a yacht or something.

Should I aim low and start from the bottom by doing just a short course and then see what kind of job I can get?
I am 29 and I dont want to spend who knows how many years trying to work my way up, thats for sure, but I guess one is never too late to start anew..

Anyways, my dinner is awaiting, cheers

posted on Aug, 23 2015 @ 03:15 PM
a reply to: athousandlives

Ummm, being a chef is a thankless job for the most part.

Why would you quit a paying job and get in debt learning to cook? Learning to cook is cool, experience running a kitchen in a restaurant is something else. Hard, long hours slaving for picky people.

posted on Aug, 23 2015 @ 03:23 PM
a reply to: athousandlives

I have been in the business for 15 years and have an associate's in culinary arts .I suggest you try and get a job in a decent restaurant and work for awhile before you decide to go to school .Depending on what country you live in it can be very expensive .I paid 43k for my degree .The pay is low as well .More than likely you will not start as a executive or sous chef. Be very very sure it's what you want to do .This is not an easy business to be in and make a living .Expect your social life to be almost non existent .You work holidays, nights, weekends, birthdays, funerals, anniversaries, when your friends are playing you're working, when they are on vacation you're working, when they are asleep you're working .Get the idea? Ideally you don't even need to go to school .Work under good chefs and learn as much as you can .All that paper will allow you to do is get 50 cents , maybe 1$ more an hour than someone else .Also remember, you will NEVER know everything .This industry changes everyday, New technology, New techniques .If you really want to do this, work a year and decide if you want to go to school .

posted on Aug, 23 2015 @ 03:28 PM
Food Industry jobs are killers. Be prepared.

posted on Aug, 23 2015 @ 03:34 PM
Yes, professional schools are very expensive, but graduates qualify for top-rung jobs, even though they still have to "apprentice" as a sous chef, etc. after schooling. And yes, any kind of professional kitchen environment is high-stress and fast-moving. No matter what your position, top chef or clean-up guy, you work your tail off. That kind of environment is not for the feint of heart. A good head chef is like a drill sergeant and often acts like one. You're the conductor of an orchestra.

However, if you LIKE that sort of environment, it can be very rewarding. And the short courses really, IMO, won't do you much good. Being a chef is not all about food, but about time and resource management and the choreography of getting a good looking plate of quality food out in a timely manner.

So my answer to you is this: If you REALLY are drawn to the world of fine cooking and quality food, and you like the idea of a fast-paced environment, then find a way to invest in yourself and prepare for a career. If you're just looking for a job that pays the bills, don't bother. There are other things you can do more cheaply to prepare for a better compensated job. IMHO, of course.

I worked as a cook for a year, though not one with a high-price education behind me. It has served me well. I'm not afraid of any recipes, change them if they're being stupid (Yes, recipes are often stupid), and I get the family meal on the table on time every time for as many people as I'm feeding. My wife says I throw the food at her, but I'm just defaulting to the "Order up" mentality of getting it all done on time.

posted on Aug, 23 2015 @ 03:52 PM
The Service Industry is demanding, just like everyone here is saying. I own and run my own Hot Dog stand in Chicago. Nothing fancy, not even indoor seating, but I had to run the gauntlet just to get here. But that's mostly being an owner. Still, it's not for people who like things easy. It's more for those who live by Murphy's Law. The 1st thing you should do, should you choose this path, should be to get a Sanitation Manager Certification. This allows you to work and manage, (legally at least), in almost any kitchen. It's easy enough and not too expensive or time consuming. After that, get into a kitchen and start learning on the job to find out what you want to focus on. There are plenty of jobs in a kitchen that don't require a "Chef's hat". Cordon Bleu has a reputable and decent Culinary Program, that's a good start.
First and foremost, be sure of your commitment. It's an intensive profession (anything in the Kitchen, it's ALWAYS hot). Otherwise, you may waste a lot of time and effort doing something you hate. My two cents.


posted on Aug, 23 2015 @ 04:32 PM
a reply to: athousandlives

I think it's better if you are like a Banquet Captain or Manager as I was.
It will be one of the most stressful jobs you could ever at times with the expectation of the guests and clients and if you are responsible for the audio visual it is even more stressful.
But the pay is great if you are at the right place.
I worked in a place where all they did was cut positions and some Chefs would not up their game to cover it leaving the grafters racing against the clock to get the food out.
We were at war at times between our departments but I have a lot of respect for sous chefs and executive Chefs that job is not easy and it takes a big personality to be one and also keep up with trends in the culinary trade plus scheduling,food costs etc,you will learn a hell of a lot just to be half decent.

posted on Aug, 23 2015 @ 04:36 PM
That's more replies than I expected, thanks
Pretty clear that this is indeed a difficult profession.
The funny thing is I worked for more than a year for a catering agency (dishwashing mostly but also some serving and occasional simple food preparation) years ago, and for some stupid reason I never even tried to work my way up.
I was naive or had other interests I guess.
I was sent mostly to events halls or conference centres, so it only got really busy when something big was going on.
But I remember feeling the pressure and how dictatorial some of the people in charge were, I guess it goes with having to prepare so much in so little time.

But I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that goes with it as well, so I'm guessing one has to be lucky also to find a workplace where he is valued and rewarded, at least morally supported.

I think I might do a short course now, get the feel of it, ask questions to the teachers and other people in the know, and I'll see what they tell me, maybe start looking for something. If all goes well then do a proper course.
Another idea might be do seasonal work at some touristic spots, work hard a few months in the summer, see how I like it.

Thanks guys

posted on Aug, 23 2015 @ 04:48 PM

originally posted by: Bluntone22
Food Industry jobs are killers. Be prepared.

Very killer..

But it's fun too sometimes..

I just started working at a restaurant again. I vowed I wouldn't after the last one, but gotta get payed.. I just got a raise and havn't been their 2 weeks. You can make a living for sure. Starting at the bottom, I'm WAY over minimum wage.

Just start cooking somewhere. The place I am at doesn't need cooks, but they already have me training on that, and also said maybe I could run the bar after awhile.

But gawd sometimes working in a restaurant will eat your soul. That's why I do all I can to make the chef's job easier. I'm just glad I'm not a server. We get busy and they get yelled at, while all of us are bumping into each other in a small kitchen trying to get food out. Everyone is nice where I work so we all work together and somehow keep it going. That's not always the case..

I'm happy.

That after work beer working in a restaurant is godly compared to an after work beer from some sit down job.
Learning to cook well is also very rewarding.
No need for classes..
Jump right on in.
restaurants often post jobs on craigslist, and just send a resume, say you enjoy cooking... Bam Job.
Look for words "will train" especially.

The skills you gain working in a restaurant are life skills in every direction..

there is no better feeling (to me) than surviving a rush and everyone just breathes a sigh of relief, and we're all smiling. Damn that was crazy, but we made it.

Right now my current job is my favorite I have had in a long time. I'm digging the hard work. I'm digging the time management constraints, the demands, the physical workout.. The comradery.. Reminds me of the things I miss about the Army.

One of my favorite parts. I agree with the product. HATE working for corporations.. Making food, selling alcohol.. I agree we these things. No morals being shunted for pay.
edit on 23-8-2015 by Reverbs because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 23 2015 @ 05:12 PM
a reply to: athousandlives

If you have a passion for cooking it does not always translate into being a chef in a restaurant. There is so much involved in the running of a kitchen and putting a menu that is viable in place.

Sanitation is obvious for health reasons, but just having a certificate does nothing for you if your goal is to be the owner/operator working in your own small business.

That is an entirely different set of issues involving finance and profit/loss statements.

I think what you have to do first and foremost is decide what exactly is your goal.

It is not necessary for you to go to school and spend 1000's of dollars getting a silly degree if all you want to do is learn to be a chef, that will always be more beneficial with a real job in a real kitchen, but you will have to start out at the bottom.

This requires that you find a kitchen where they are willing to train you, but you have to prove to them as quickly as possible that you have what it takes to function in a fast paced, stressful, time consuming and highly competitive atmosphere.

You have to play the part, be dedicated to learning the craft, learn the proper way to use a knife, be sanitary in your habits, wear the proper uniform without being told, ask questions when you need to and keep your mouth shut when you need to.

Offer to do the grunt work, peel the vegetables, do the slicing, keep hydration a priority, keep your station and utensils clean and sharp.

Work whatever hours you are asked or scheduled, offer to cover shifts, help with the catering.

Being in the kitchen is a thankless job for most, you have to really be dedicated in order to survive. If you prove yourself and management likes you and they think you are worth the investment, they will get you into specific classes. If they want you to be in kitchen management they will pay for your serve safe course and get your license for you after you pass.

Most restaurants require a serve safe class for you to work there before you start, but the only person that has to have a license for sanitation is the food service manager, they are the one who is going to get fined if there are any issues.

posted on Aug, 23 2015 @ 05:14 PM
non-chef here, but some of us who wanted higher education in other fields generally tough it out, take out a loan, and go to college. It's not easy when you don't have a full ride and have responsibilies, but many people have been successful at doing so.

posted on Aug, 23 2015 @ 06:04 PM
I'm a pretty good sous chef.

posted on Aug, 23 2015 @ 09:50 PM
a reply to: athousandlives

2 choices:

- bite the bullet and enroll in Le Cordon Bleu, or some other such culinary arts coursework
- bite the bullet and start applying for garmage/pantry assistant positions in decent kitchens, then work your way up.

ETA: a third option would be to build yourself a food truck, and just start plying your trade. Do weekends and special events with it.

edit on 8/23/2015 by bigfatfurrytexan because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 23 2015 @ 10:19 PM
I started in the resturant business in 1975, working in several types. American, Seafood, Italian, French, etc. I hadone on one training from a french Chef in Maui in 1977, and maybe should have stayed with him. Now cooking is my passion , but I make great money in the steel industry. I make just a bit under 80K a year. My little sister is a culinary grad, and was a personal chef for some years. We just love to cook fine cuisine. And thats all I have to say about that.....

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