Feeling a bit discouraged...

Joined Sep 10, 2016
Hi, I'm a mature student (36 y.o.) almost finished culinary school and seeking just to gain some hands-on kitchen experience. I'm obviously not in it for the money, since the wage for a line/prep cook is $13-15 / hr in my area (at least that's my understanding). I recently had an interview at a restaurant and the environment seemed very young. I know restaurant work is youth focused, but the other line/prep cooks were 19-20 years old and the people interviewing me -including the chef- seemed to be about 10 years younger than me. It was a bit of a rude awakening; I have no age issues, but I just don't know if it's realistic to be starting out on the line at age 36 or 37. I need to gain practical experience and I'm curious if there are perhaps other avenues. I do have some long-term plans about how I'm going to put my schooling into practice, but I need some guidance about how to gain needed experience in the short term. I'm not completely unprepared for life after culinary school -for example, I know a very experienced chef from Paris who I can work under, but that would be a seasonal and part-time gig. Also, I'm a trained massage practitioner and I have some long term plans about how to combine that with culinary arts -at a resort / tourist operation, for example- but the short term need for experience remains. Thanks for any help. 
Joined Aug 21, 2004
I just don't know if it's realistic to be starting out on the line at age 36 or 37.
Why not? Is there an age at when we are to no longer undertake new challenges. If there is, I hope nobody ever tells me; but then I don't listen anyway, or at least I don't according to my wife.
Joined Dec 23, 2004
In a way the restaurant world is kind of youth oriented but you're not that old.  If you're mature you can probably rise through the ranks faster than most (assuming that's the goal).  Lots of the younger folks are more interested in partying than showing up to work and kicking ass.
Joined Sep 10, 2016
Im a pretty young line cook and couldnt care less what age the person working with me is. I get worked UNDER THE TABLE by little old ladies pretty regularly. Work ethic and people skills make or break you but age never seemed to matter. Might be hard to ask someone younger than you how to do something but thats a human thing not a kitchen thing. Hopefully works out for you.
Joined May 5, 2010
Welcome to ChefTalk Masseurchef.........

We are a community of cooks and Chefs here. We are made up of people from all walks of life and different ages.

It is not uncommon to find guys (and gals)in their 40's and 50's still working the line.

Truth is restaurant life is what you make it. Do not compare your self to others. Everyone responds to life's adventures differently.

I think it's great that you will get some valuable experience on the line. Good Luck to you.
Joined Jan 17, 2015
Old @ 36, you must be joking! I turned 50 this year, and still at it in an a'la carte environment. There is not a lot of us left but enough for it not to be a freak occurrence. A lot of chefs from my generation have canteen jobs or contract catering because of the working hours but still chefing  Your age will probably work in your advantage eventually as you are mature, just learn your craft and you will be fine. Good luck!
Joined Oct 31, 2012
36 is nothing to worry about. Get a job in a good kitchen and start getting experience. As others said, you're maturity will help, not hurt. 

I know plenty of people of all ages working in kitchens. And once you start working, your work habits and skills will prove far more important. 
Joined Sep 10, 2016
Thank you everyone for your encouragement! I'll keep looking for experience and try to keep my age insecurity in check.
Joined Feb 8, 2009
  • masseurchef, Welcome to Cheftalk. Your maturity, age, dependability and the fact that your going to Culinary school at this age show eagerness and passion. I would hire you in a heartbeat. Walk into all your interviews not telling the chef what you know but, what you can and will offer to the kitchen. Tell the Chef you will be on time and eager to learn fast. You will work any and all hours trying to make their job easier about call-ins. Tell them about your passion and willingness to work with everyone. Tell them you are a good hard worker that will work well with others. Don't worry about what you know, tell them who you are. I have hired 1000's of people over the years. I have never "NOT" hired someone who told me these kinds of qualities they had.  No all that being said, there are many other food services other than working a front line in a restaurant. Look into Catering, Employee upscale cafeterias, Hospitals and upscale senior living. These venues at one time didn't offer a lot of challenges. In to days world you can learn a lot.......Good luck.......Chef Bill
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Joined Sep 10, 2016
thank you so much for offering those words of wisdom, sure to set me on the right path. Just what I needed to hear.
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