Anyone even remotely THINKING about a "culinary career" needs to read this...

Discussion in 'General Culinary School Discussions' started by petemccracken, Sep 21, 2010.

  1. petemccracken

    petemccracken

    Messages:
    3,401
    Likes Received:
    158
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
  2. jellly

    jellly

    Messages:
    401
    Likes Received:
    37
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    Hey, Pete - Thanks for the link.  I really enjoyed that, though I am kind of glad I didn't read it years ago before I went to culinary school.  I definitely fit in his category of older career changers.  But a lot of what he says, ESPECIALLY about the choices students make right out of culinary school, are very true.
     
  3. petemccracken

    petemccracken

    Messages:
    3,401
    Likes Received:
    158
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I entered the "culinary arena" at 58, and am still cooking at 68, so, look out you youngsters!
     
    yellowflamingo likes this.
  4. leeniek

    leeniek

    Messages:
    1,642
    Likes Received:
    39
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    thanks for sharing the link, Pete.  I too fit into the category of "older career changers" and haven't set foot in a culinary school yet.  I'm still thinking about going but I haven't fully made the decision just yet.
     
  5. titomike

    titomike

    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    15
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Thanks, Pete....I'm an old dog back-pedalling on the slippery slope...

    Those who can do, those who can't teach...or starve!   In my case, getting kicked up a short, rickety flight of stairs to absorb blue radiation by myself looks decidedly unappealing but I made my bed...just probably shouldn't have pissed in it... /img/vbsmilies/smilies/redface.gif.

    Thanks Tony...you done good!
     
  6. gnnairda

    gnnairda

    Messages:
    108
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    now I'm even more unsure what to do with my life D:
     
  7. chefross

    chefross

    Messages:
    2,678
    Likes Received:
    349
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    The fact is that Mr. Bourdain IS a loser guys.

    If it weren't for his writing capabilities, none of us would have ever heard of him.

    He freely admits to his career being less than stellar. Les Halles in New York where he worked wasn't even that great a restaurant.

    I've read his book Kitchen Confidential and laughed almost all through it. Like many Chefs it is a story of their own careers (mine included)

    His latest book and the thread that Pete has offered wreaks of elitism. There is  jealousy, and envy  in most every profession.

    Just remember Tony did not make it as a Chef but is a lot better at writing about it.
     
  8. gobblygook

    gobblygook

    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    I read the linked article and I have to say, I was amused.  I thought it was quite humorously written and quite funny. 
     
  9. jim berman

    jim berman

    Messages:
    1,908
    Likes Received:
    273
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I am not so sure that it is a "fact" that he is a loser. I think we know of him exactly what he wants us to know. He is frank about his tribulations with dealing with substance abuse and overcoming that monumental challenge. Further, he is well-spoken about food and culinary exploration. I am not necessarily the president of his fan club, but I think to categorically dismiss his experience may be robbing potential readers of valuable information.
     
  10. gnnairda

    gnnairda

    Messages:
    108
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    From what I get from this article is that the culinary world is extremely hardwork with bull pay and with no insurance and bull hours with a crappy social life. how the heck does a cook live on 12/hr for 5 years before getting promoted to a slightly higher pay yet must handle more bull? I knew that I would be getting bull pay from the start but I'm not sure if I can deal with 18$/hr when I'm 30 and with average insurance while trying to raise a family. I don't think I'm talented so I'm not sure if sheer hard sweat will be enough. My dream is to open up my own restaurant but that could just mean I'm just young and stupid.If the culinary world is this doom and gloom I'm starting to have second thoughts.......

    I think I am in denial of being a dreamer  from watching foodnetwork. it seems like the people are taking a huge risk in their life with a small chance of becoming an average chef with below average pay .  Do you see a lot of 30 y/o cooks deeply regret their choice? I think I might be satisfied from just having a huge knowledge on food rather then having no social life.still might take culinary school though.

    ps. sorry for the unorganized rant lol.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 23, 2010
  11. gobblygook

    gobblygook

    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    I think the article has some level of "wisdom" in it.  Look in your kitchens and look at the age of the people working in them.  Being a "line cook" is not a career destination, it's a means to an end.  Whether that "end" is in the restaurant world or elsewhere is up to the individual to determine.  There's nothing special here though -- go look at your local fast food joint and look at the ages represented.  Most of the workers are under 25, with the majority of evening shift being high schoolers.  I worked in fast food in high school, and frankly, think everyone should, but that's not where my career is supposed to end.
     
  12. foodpump

    foodpump

    Messages:
    4,866
    Likes Received:
    438
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    I just don't understand the situation at all.

    In "My time" there were culinary "superstars" too: Child, Pepin, Martin Yan, Frugal Gourmet, etc..  True, there wasn't a devoted TV Channel, but they were popular enough, yet students weren't banging on culinary school doors back then. 

    Why now?

    Face it: 

    (1) There's waaaaaaay to much competition for the dining dollar,

    (2) no controls/standards on who opens up a place,

    (3) no standards on culinary schools, 

    (4) no energy exerted by Unions or schools to set up national standards for cooks,

    and

    (5) a public who just want cheap food.

    Even though I've been in this biz for 25-odd years, I can still walk off to a distance and see things the way they are.  Even when I was 16 I knew I'd never get rich, would work non-sociable hours, and have physical demands on my body every day.

    Why don't people now see this?  Why don't the financial institutions lending money acknowledge that it's at best, culinary school tuition is a lousy investment?

    Why is Bourdain the only one who can look critically at the whole restaurant scene?  What he is doing needs to be done, but no one is following him, no one is supporting him, and the media treat him as a bad boy odd-ball. A one-off... 

    Why does every media source portray a cook as a Chef with a glorious lifestyle and $100,000.00 salary? 

    Is it guilt feelings for tipping the waiter and giving verbal complimets to the cooks?  
     
  13. Couldn't think of a better profession than being a chef!
     
  14. chefross

    chefross

    Messages:
    2,678
    Likes Received:
    349
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    A peer of mine would have many issue with your statements, and I doubt that having "food police" to insure proper procedures, and to decide who stays open and who closes is not the answer.Free enterprise remember?
     
     
  15. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    174
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Pete ! I though I was oldest one on here, but I see we are tied. I didn't change careers however I started at 15. For a guy that started at 58, you are very knowlegable.
     
  16. foodpump

    foodpump

    Messages:
    4,866
    Likes Received:
    438
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    Yup free enterprise........

    Stand on the other side of the kitchen doors for a few years and watch "Free enterprise" at work coming into your establishement.  The prevailing attitude for customers is to get whatever you can for free, and failing that at a discount, and failing that at least "give 'em a piece of your mind". Something like 8 out of 10 restaurants don't make it in the first year, for  a variety of reasons: Under capitilized, ignorent of health/municipal codes, poor marketing, you name it.  And the public love it, for a restaurant slowly going under is bleeding itself dry--great bargains to be had before it goes under.  Failed businesses are hard on the economy, hard on the owners, hard on it's suppliers, even hard on it's ex-employees.  Everyone has sob-stories about working at "X" and didn't get paid becasue it went under--everyone: employees, suppliers, landlords.

    The ones that make past the first and second years are invariably run by people with experience in the industry. It don't take a rocket scientist to figure it out, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why driver's licenses are mandatory, or electrician's certificates or gas fitter's tickets are required.  Meh, a 60 seat restaurant only has the capacity to kill or maim 120 guests per shift........ 

    Go ahead with Free Enterprise, the used food equipment dealers will love you to death......

    There are two ways to make an employer pay you more:

    The first is to put a gun to his head and threaten.  This is the only tactic in the hospitality union's book--strike or else.

    The second is to train up the employee, making them much more desirable and capable of making the business earn more. 

    For this you need standards and qualifications, and every other manual trade has these. Going rate for plumbers is $70/hr, HVAC $80/hr, Electricians,O.K. you get the message, they have standards and benchmarks and are paid acccording to this.  Cooks have none, and the Unions are doing diddly-squat about it, and the employers keep on buying more and more convienience food and getting unexperienced people to open pouches

    because they have no "real" cooks, and have shaved every penny so it is impossible to hire and pay for a "real" cook, and....... O.K. you get the message, it's a nasty cycle.

    Someone has to hold the Culinary School's nose to the doo-doo under the couch too.  "Free enterprise" at it's best, and "Caveat emporium" too, as Mr. Bourdain so nicely points out, forking out 40-60 grand for a diploma so's you can get to earn minimum wage for the first few years isn't good.

    Free enterprise my sweet cheeks.  Look at any media source and therse no mention of the pittfalls and current situation, only who's "top Chef".
     
  17. petemccracken

    petemccracken

    Messages:
    3,401
    Likes Received:
    158
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Ah, but like you I started my "culinary education" about the same time you did, I just "went to school" a little longer before "starting to cook professionally"! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif
     
  18. flourthepeople

    flourthepeople

    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    12
    Exp:
    Culinary Student
    Bourdain is hardly a loser. Losers don't  get paid to travel the world and eat indigenous food. Bourdain is kind, smart, gracious and way down to earth.

    He doesn't put on any airs, he is who he is. He has a beautiful wife and a sweet little girl. So he did some hard drugs for a few years, he doesn't  try to hide it, he is very open about who he was. We all go though bad spells, dark times, it is whether we get ourselves  out that counts and he did.

    I think the culinary world needs Bourdain, who else can eat at The French Laundry one day and eat tacos off a truck the next. He's genuine, honest and a full fledged smart ass. He's perfect.
     
    drirene and chefbazookas like this.
  19. ras1187

    ras1187

    Messages:
    633
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    I am in the process of reading the book and went through this chapter already.  I am the target audience he is going after here.  I am 23, recently graduated, trying to put all the pieces together.  Instead of taking a trip to Spain or France though, I immediately started working full time for the hotel kitchen I had intern'd at.  I have no regrets with that I am doing, I have gained invaluable learning experiences at this kitchen, and I am eager to keep moving up with hotels (though it seems I may be hated among my fellow restaurant peers due to the benefits, slightly better pay, and slightly more sociable hours hotel kitchens offer).  I am confident that I can be successful and happy on the route I am in, even if I never become the next Thomas Kellar or Grant Achatz with a fortune in 3rd party branded cooking products.
     
    flourthepeople likes this.
  20. petemccracken

    petemccracken

    Messages:
    3,401
    Likes Received:
    158
    Exp:
    Professional Chef