Posted on 11 September 2011.
I am going into 11th grade. I can't decide what I want to do with my life. I like to make meals for my family and I enjoy time in the kitchen. I know that you cannot go into cooking school and come out a chef. I've read loads of books on cooking. Kitchen Confidential is really what it's like I guess. it sounds fun to me. The only problem I have is I keep second guessing myself. I know I would have fun cooking, but it consumes your social life. you breathe, live and eat cooking. I'm having trouble deciding if it is really the career path I want to follow. on the other hand, I don't know what I would like to be. I would probably go to college without knowing what I would like to do. The pay sucks, the hours suck, the work sucks, but for some reason i'm drawn to that. Yeah I like to hang out with my family and have a life, but cooking makes me smile. When I see people eat what I've created it is like a reward. so how do I know if I should do this. I'm currently in the process of getting a job at a restaurant. Probably being a dishwasher, but I want to see if this is really for me. Suggestions? Thanks!!
Let me say firstly, starting out as a dishwasher at a restaurant is right on the bottom rung of the ladder. if you want to make it to the top, you'll really have to work hard, and watch everything that goes on around you. as time goes by, the chef or sous chef might ask you to start doing prep work, which also can be very boring. Have you ever thought about becoming a personal chef. a chef that doesn't work in restaurants, but who cooks in people's homes, or having a catering business. not all good chefs work in restaurants. Who knows you could be the Next Food Network Star!….good luck, and follow your dreams
If it's something you're truly passionate about, I would say go for it. but I would still go to college and major in something you can fall back on if you ever tire of the restaurant business.
My dad worked as a chef and a restaurant manager for years and years and that's how he met my mom (she was a hostess at one of the restaurants). I guess the schedule worked for him when he was single but once he settled down and had kids he eventually switched out to a job that wasn't so time-consuming.
So really, I would pursue the cooking but have another major or field of expertise that you can use if you ever decide that you need to make a career change. you don't want to be stuck with no options!
go ahead and be a chef and open up your own business i know you like seasoning your own food to your taste and if you out you can tell if the food not season right or they did not cut the steaks right or vegetables is over cook
She's right. you can be a chef without working in a busy high-strung restaurant. The benefits of working in a smaller place (such as a bed and breakfast, bakery, or personal chef) is that you can change the menu often and do crazy things so that you (and your customers) never get bored. by the way, you sound just like me the way you love cooking and watching people enjoy your food. I was going to go to culinary school, too, but some things changed. right now, though, I'm the head cook in a small summer resort – we usually have between 20-50 people per meal, so it's not too crazy. And like I said, I get to cook whatever I want. I suggest you explore your options and definitely find someway to test drive this career. but you can always change your mind – goodness knows I've done that enough! haha good luck!
It sounds like you already know what you want to do. I feel the same way about cooking. When I am in the kitchen I am happy and never feel awkward or out of place. I always feel like I know what I'm doing and that is the best feeling. I also love the look on people's faces when they try my "creations" and love it!!
"Do what makes you happy and never work another day in your life" Someone wise said that
But also remember that you should not be afraid to make mistakes in your life. for some people it just takes a little longer to know what they want to do. you are still young and still learning about yourself so don't stress about it and it will eventually "come" to you. good luck!!
I debated whether or not to become a chef last year (I'm going into 12th grade), so I was in your shoes not too long ago. I did fear the "all-consuming" aspect of being a chef and the fact that you are working when people are out, having fun with their friends and family. it really bothered me to think that I would be the one in the kitchen and not the one sitting at the table, enjoying an evening with those that I love. if you can't tell already, I decided not to become a chef. Cooking is still my greatest passion and hobbie, but I can tell you now that it will not be my career. I had to ask myself, what it is that I want for my life. I wrote it out and thought it out endlessly, and it came down to the fact that I want to have a family some day and I want to have a good QUALITY of life, ya know, relaxed, as stress-free as possible. it all comes down to what YOU want for YOUR life. what do you want your life to be like? I encourage you to pursue your dream and become a chef, but I advise you to keep in mind the fact that you'll work nights and holidays, and weekends, and in a very stressful environment. I had a job in a restaurant last summer and it really showed me that I wasn't meant to have my greatest hobbie as a job. it made it not so much fun anymore when I had chefs yelling at me to make things perfect. it sucked the enjoyment out of cooking. Listen to YOUR heart.
You are on the right path by getting a job in a restaurant. if you are in or near a large city, where there are lots of kitchens you can apply for a job in a restaurant or a hotel kitchen as a "prep cook" which means that YOU do the chopping and cutting of the raw ingredients that the chefs will use later in the cooking of the meal. you don't need a lot of experience to do that, but you do need the ability to listen to orders, be willing to learn and to work without a lot of supervision. if you are lucky, and what happened with me, one or two of the more friendly chefs showed me how to do things and started to encourage my interest in cooking. Everybody likes to think they are a good teacher, so you'll probably find someone who will take you "under their wing".
I started out in the culinary field by working with the head cook in a nursing home as a "prep person" and eventually became his assistant cook and was able to fill in for him when health problems came up. I hadn't gone to culinary school but I do come from a family of good cooks and back in those days I had a lot more energy (LOL). From there I went on to cooking in restaurants and a bakery.
It is very rough work; LONG hours, 120 degree days "behind the line", and there never seems to be enough hours in the day to complete what needs to be done. And there is a lot of tedious work to do; endless chopping, dicing, mincing, washing of vegetables, on and on and on…
and ALL those dirty pots, pans, dishes…
On the positive side, after all that work, you do find the satisfaction of creating something delicious and beautiful for people to enjoy. And sometimes, if you are very lucky, you find a great group of people who are fun to work with.
Cooking professionally does consume a lot of time and, as you have already figured out, you live, breathe, sleep FOOD 24/7 which can be a drag if you suspect there are other things in life. I met some great people but since I didn't share their dedication to the culinary arts I finally figured out that it wasn't the way for me to make my living. I will always value the lessons I learned but it is a very draining way to make a living and I'm now glad to be out of it, although I do still love to cook for my family and friends. it got so cooking professionally actually ruined the enjoyment of cooking for me and I had to take a break from it for a while.
But you are young and strong and this won't happen to you, I predict!
Hope this helps.
Even if you decide not to go into the culinary field, the experience you gain from that background will serve you all the rest of your life. it NEVER hurts to know how to cook!
You sound exactly like me a few years ago. I'm in culinary school…only after trying to do what I thought was a more logical approach to a career: being at a university for 3 years attempting to earn a p.h.d. in history. Finally, I decided that if I wanted to be truly happy, I had to follow my heart. AND I COULDN'T BE HAPPIER! Being in the culinary industry has opened so many doors for me. I worked as an apprentice at a ski resort for a while. I love being able to express my creativity through my food. Don't get me wrong, it's hard work and some days you work for 15 hours. but for some reason, I'm still excited to get up and do it again the next day. It's just something about doing what you love that keeps you motivated and excited. Oh, and the pay isn't all that bad either. you just have to find a good location. When I worked at the resort, I often did chef stations at parties for $100 an HOUR! so whatever you decide, just follow your heart. it is so worth it in the end. good Luck
P.S. I still have very much of a social life. you just have to make time for it with whatever you do. And PLEASE don't let working at a chain restaurant as a dishwasher be your deciding factor!
Actually, you can go to cooking school and come out a chef. as long asyou go to a real cooking school, not just some 8-month course at some "college" that merely is designed to charge larges amts of $$ so you can get student loans. consider Culinary Institute of America (CIA), Johnson & Wales, Cordon Bleu in Paris, even…. real cooking schools.
You can always go to culinary schoola fter college. you will get more pay that way, and more management opportunities. you can also major in subjects that will get you near the foodservice industry w/o having to actually cook the food. you could be a Registered Dietitian, a home economist, a Foodservice Manager, in Marketing and Sales for food wholesalers or specialty food purveyors, or a writer or editor specializing in cookbooks. you coudl be a county healht inspector. even fast food chains and cafeterias need people to keep their books, to tell them if they are profitable, graphic designer for food labels and signage, financial analysts, insurance risk analysts, and attorneys. so whatever your skills and interests are, they can be woven into the food industry. Being a chef is not the only thing.
If you have the grades/brains to be college bound, definitely do that first. You'll always have a college degree to fall back on.
And ask your high school guidance counselor about taking an aptitude test, to tell you what you're good at adn how to turn that into a career. you can do them online, too, but they may not be as reliable as if a trained career couselor administers and evaluates it. but the 'net would be a good place to start.
You've still got time. take those college-prep courses, continue to cook for your family and learn all you can about cooking. just spend 10 min. here on Y!a and you'll see the Q's posted by pathetic souls who can't heat up a can of soup. At least,you'll never starve.
If cooking is what you like to do, then you shouldn't second guess yourself. try to make it to the big time. The average payment for head chef is around $50 p/h.