So You Want to Be a Chef: Your Guide to Culinary Careers

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Understand what it takes to be a chef by reading the comprehensive information in So You Want to Be a Chef?: Your Guide to Culinary Careers, 2nd Edition. Revised and updated to include a new chapter on Research and Development chefs and expanded coverage of on-site foodservice areas, this guide presents a real-world look at culinary careers. The authors vividly describe the feel, the reality, the hours, the physical demands, the tradeoffs, and the benefits of working in various culinary settings, while interviews with a range of industry leaders offer helpful advice and inspiring vignettes.


Brad Barnes
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So You Want to Be a Chef: Your Guide to Culinary Careers
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Ages 9-12

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In today's world of TV chefs and food related channels, have you ever wondered, why can't I do that for a living? How much does an executive chef make on a cruise ship?  What is the proper work related path to take to be head chef at a 5 star hotel?  What is a day in the life of a caterer?   I assumed that to be a chef, I would have to be "born" into the field or be a culinary genius by the age of 15 to get a good job.   Not so, say the writers of So You Want to Be a Chef?   They lay out a realistic picture of what it takes to climb to the top of many culinary careers in today's world.

 Answers to questions like those, would have been of great help to me and others like me when I was a young high school age girl and contemplating a life long career.   Sure I had the home economics' class, that was mandatory for every student at that time, and I loved it.  What dreams and aspirations might those teachers have inspired with a textbook like this one?

I truly was impressed with this textbook.  That is not something you hear to often is it?  The words impressed and textbook usually don't go together, but I have to say this book breaks the textbook mold wide open.  Not only is it informative but it is entertaining as well.  It begins with a rather lengthy introduction which gives an overview of the culinary profession and the books contents as well as a brief overview of culinary training programs and the average pay scale and timelines for achievement of your desired profession.   Some of this information was an eye opener.   If a student thinks they are going to get rich as a chef they need to see the average pay for a head chef.  I knew they didn't make buckets of money but I did think they made more than that for such a skilled and hardworking profession.   That was one of the most impressive things in this book.  It is realistic.  It paints a real life picture of what it means to be a 'day-in and day-out' chef and still manages to be upbeat and encouraging.
The books subsequent chapters go on to not only provide information about various culinary fields but it goes one better.  It provides a glimpse into a day of each professional option by following each chef for a day.  There is little glamorous about a head chef who is running a 5 star restaurant and is also wife and mother.  I was tired just reading about the chef's days.  There were interviews with leaders in their fields which provided even further insight into what it means to do each job.  Also included was educational path advice, which I have never seen laid out so eloquently in a textbook.  There were even little tips from recent graduates of each culinary program.  What could be a better resource is there than someone who just has been where you wish to go.
The professional range in this book is wonderful it not only covers every type of chef I could think of but it also goes into a little of the less talked about culinary professions such as research and development careers, careers in  culinary education, food photography and purchasing managers, careers in the food related literary field .  This book even has a blurb for those students who dream of becoming the next Wolfgang Puck.    It provides a nice resource list of all the professional organizations for each profession and also of some of the appropriate schools to attend.  Because it is a textbook, there are exercises after each chapter.  They provided a good mix of internet and book work for the student to delve even further into each area of expertise. 

If I were a culinary Arts teacher, I would want this as one of my student's resources.  It would serve to, in my opinion, weed out those students with a passing interest in cooking and light a big fire under those with a true passion for all aspects of the culinary field.    I have to tell you that, even if I were a teacher of photography, I would want a copy of this book on hand as a reference for any student who wanted to pursue a career in the food related fields.  At the vary least, I think every high school library should have one on its shelf, and I think I will donate my copy to our local high school.   Who knows, perhaps that might be the spark that spurs the next culinary protégé on to greatness.


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