27 year old, career change, culinary school. Am i setting up myself for failure? need blunt advice

Joined Oct 10, 2016
i have been cooking since i was 21 and been hosting dinners for friends & families.

i have also worked as volunteer in kitchens, at soup kitchens and at small gatherings, learnt from street vendors and through some chef friends.

by profession i am in advertising and got into it to fulfill my creative urges but it never did...the industry is not what it was today and most of the time u r just clocking in time and decaying over the desk. I quit my job.

i have always thrived in high paced environments with proven outputs and being a professional chef has always taken a backseat as it compromises your social life and peace of mind. 

but now i am at crossroads and i am revisiting this option.

i do have a vision to open my own restaurant and have certain ideas about the kind of cuisine that might grow to become more commercially acceptable.

my main goal is to build professional credibility now and lead to a permanent job working for a top indian restaurant as thats the cuisine which has failed to provide high output of quality midrange restaurants....indian food is either too expensive or too inconsistent and disappointing.

looking into enrolling in US as its a huge food economy and always ahead of trends i want to catch up to.

realistically am i too late to begin now ?

I want to work towards becoming a chef de cuisine within next 3-4 years and eventually setup my own food business.

skill level:

- knife skills: 7/10

- cuisines comfortable with: Indian, Italian, Grill, Chinese and classic english breakfast
Joined Jan 21, 2017
my main goal is to build professional credibility now and lead to a permanent job working for a top indian restaurant as thats the cuisine which has failed to provide high output of quality midrange restaurants....indian food is either too expensive or too inconsistent and disappointing.
It is? Where?

Are you saying your goal is to work for a top Indian restaurant so you can "fix" what's wrong with Indian cuisine? 
Joined Feb 2, 2017
You are never too old.

I would recommend working. Go work as many hours you can as a line cook for a couple different restaurants until you get burnt out. Once you are burnt out, you will sink or float in deciding if this is what you really want.

If you want to be credible, then you need to produce good food now. You already said that you quit your job. Now get off the internet and go get a morning/ lunch cook job and then go work dinners somewhere else. Make that money
Joined Apr 20, 2017
          Hey Chef Brah maybe I can give you some good insight. Like yourself I am 27. About a year ago I enrolled in culinary school (culinary institute of america). Unlike you I have been working in this industry since I was 18. I mainly did front of house but 4 years ago i made the switch to back of house as a sushi chef and a baker (at different places). I have worked at around 12 places and will give you my input on this.

            I realize you did some volunteer work and have some experience in the kitchen but listen up.. Working in the industry starting out is not easy. You will most likely be working a lot of hours (for years I did 80-100 hour work weeks), you can kiss all holidays goodbye, having a social life is almost impossible, keeping a girlfriend is very tough unless she is also in the biz, as far as creativity you will most likely have no say in it and be instructed on what to do. Your hobbies will slowly begin to die b/c you will have no time and be tired. Your body will suffer (before I switched to back of house I was in shape, would box daily, lift weights, etc.).. Most days im either too busy or too tired to make it to the gym.. I have become a night owl b/c the little social life I have now revolves around drinking with co workers after work.

            Now lets get to the positives. First off the people you work with are usually fun and interesting. You don't have to be some uptight corporate paper pusher. Working, although tiring, can be a lot of fun sometimes. You get to learn new things almost daily. Developing your cooking skills enriches your life. The low pay you will get starting out will luckily get better with time as you learn. One day when and if you are capable you can make a fortune with your own business. You can find employment anywhere in the world and get to travel the world. The people you work with become sort of family in a weird way. Cooking in recent years has become a respected profession and people are sincerely interested in what you do. If you get tired of the kitchen there are plenty of jobs for chefs outside of it. I have a friend who just started working as a salesman for fish company and he is making a killing. So we can all give you our view but ultimately you have to chose. 

       Everyday while at work I wonder why am I working myself so hard and sacrificing so much to make a living. But I wouldn't want it any other way. One last thing. You are not too old, but being a line cook will get more and more demanding on your body as you age. As one of my chefs told me "You don't want to be a 50 year old line cook, There comes a time in this business where you have to stop making money using this (points to body), and make money using this (points to his brain)."
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Joined Jul 7, 2017
Let's be honest. There are very few people who work 80-100 hour work weeks for any period of time. I have had them on occasion to cover vacations, someone got fired, etc. but it is certainly not the norm. Nor should it be. I am the Exec of a 2500 room casino hotel and I work 50-60 hours a week. I have 25 Chefs that work under me and they work the same hours. I have over 250 cooks, master cooks, bakers, pantry workers, food prep helpers and food runners that are members of the culinary union and work 7 hours a day and get an hour to spend in my EDR having a free meal. They typically get paid between $15 and $19/hr and get full medical benefits for free. Yes, I said free. The part about they weekends and holidays is true, but it is very feasible to raise a family and have a normal life in our industry. It takes hard work in the beginning, but don't believe all the horror stories you hear about being a chef. It's not like we are storming the beaches of Normandy. We are cooking with Burgundy.
Joined Feb 8, 2009
Lone story short! I started in this business at 27 years old knowing nothing. I got a oneway first class ticket from NYC to Hawaii and got a job as a catering steward. Long story short again and fast forward 35 years moving up in this business and owning my own. I wouldn't change a thing. I was working in a job I liked at first in Quality control as a high voltage test man for GE. After working the job for 5 years I couldn't see myself doing it for another 35 years. Follow your heart do what you love, life isn't a chore, work shouldn't be a chore either.......Good Luck........Bill
Joined Jul 11, 2017
First, you should TRY to find a school that specializes in your cuisine and just remember they are going to teach you how to make that average cuisine you are talking about as they teach technique not passion, heart and soul. You have to add that to the food and that is helped by a lot of experimentation. There is no magic pill it is invention or better yet in food reinvention that makes food remarkable. To quote a fellow great experimenter who had to try a few hundred times "people miss opportunity because its dressed in overalls and looks like work" - Edison

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