Has anyone returned to the industry after a hiatus?

Joined May 14, 2008
How many of you have left the industry for a few years and decided to return?

Was it hard trying to transition into the industry again? I always told myself that I would take the school route if I ever went back. The internship positions available at the large name resorts were always a target of mine.

Any of you have your college degree in dietetics or food service? I met with some industry professionals and most of them have their culinary arts degree, but recommend a bachelors degree. Although i have found very little evidence that a bachelors is a good idea. I still believe that in most cases hard work and experience still counts in this industry.
Joined Mar 1, 2011
I had a hiatus from an injury and very long rehabilitation a couple years ago, and the transistion back was tough, long and hard, stressful, but not aweful. You never really lose your way around a kitchen.

As for schooling, its always good, but quality experience in the industry are always best.

Best of Luck,

Joined Mar 18, 2011
I left for 2 years, and worked a desk job in a cubical. The money was a lot better, but the job sucked away my soul. I belong in a kitchen.

When I got back in, I started out as a line cook, but by month 3 they had promoted me. You never really lose it.

I also took a 6 month break to have a kid. That was like an extended vacation!
Joined Apr 17, 2006
I left for 11 years. I took a telecom job that paid better and had great benefits. It was great sitting in an air conditioned room with no (or so I thought) stress. I said I'd never go back in a kitchen again. But cooking is like racing. It's in your blood, and when people asked me what I did, I always wanted to say "I'm a cook, but I work as a long distance phone operator." because that's how I felt. Well, the operator job went away due to automation, and what else did I know? When I first quit the business, I could have worked anywhere. I had a tough time getting back in because no one remembered me and everybody now hires their friends, good or bad as they may be at it. My own concerns were about losing my timing. But it's like riding a bike, you might wobble at first, but then you get going. At first I couldn't work more than three or four tickets at a time and keep track of what I was doing. Now I can work the whole board, so that came back. My speed was bad too. I used to be really fast, and most of that has come back too. The funny part about it was I kept cutting myself at first. I think I had a band aid on every finger, and I'm thinking " Anybody would think I'd never seen a knife before. Good grief!" And every burn would hurt like hell. Now I'm back to where someone will point at a burn and ask how it happened and I'll say "I don't know. I didn't even know I had it."  Someone told me Anthony Bourdain did a series where he went back to all the places he used to work and cooked on the line again. I would have loved to have seen that. I heard it was great. I know how he must have felt .I think the biggest shock to me was how much peoples' tastes have changed over the years I was gone. I once made beef stew for a noon special and had to explaing to the wait staff what it was. They'd never heard of it. One waiter said "Oh, it's like a roast beef dinner only in a bowl."  Yeah, pretty much. What are we going to do when all they want is chicken strips and tacos because that's all they know?  It'll be the most boring job in the world.
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Joined Dec 15, 2010
I left 11 years ago when I got pregnant with my first son. I had planned on working through my pregnancy but I got very sick and had lots of complications. And sadly, as much as I loved food, the smell and sight of most food sent me running to the bathroom. My boss at the time let me go, and I didn't blame them. I knew I couldn't take care of a baby and be a chef. When my son was old enough my mother-in-law watched him while I worked as an assistant accountant. I did that for 5 years until I had my second son. Doing accounting in an office was completely soul sucking, depressing work. I was a stay at home mom for a few years cooking for my family, friends, anyone who was hungry basically. I started teaching cooking classes a couple years ago after the relentless begging and pleading by my friends. I got back in the game last November when a favorite store of mine started serving breakfast and lunch in addition to selling cheese and gourmet foods. They posted on facebook that they were looking for someone with "cooking experience and a passion for cheese & wine". It wasn't hard to jump back into the game. Where I work now is different, it's a much smaller kitchen and menu that where I have worked in the past, but I do LOVE it. It fits in perfectly with my life now.
Joined May 14, 2008
You'd be a great resource mom and chef to speak with. I left the industry because I didn't see a way to raise my family and work in the kitchen. Although I am older (not so much wiser) I think I would settle owning a breakfast restaurant that feeds the usual breakfast foods. It was great to read from a lot of you that coming back is like riding a bike you never really lose it. Although I think that I am still going to do the culinary school thing, because I want to say to myself that I have covered as many avenues in the culinary world as possible.

Unfortunatly I do not have access to relatives that could watch my children if I decide to have them, so I'm not sure what I am going to do there. So far nobody has really mentioned how they raised their family while working.

I always wanted to do a seasonal grand tour of my state. Traveling the various tourist hot spots and working in the kitchens there just to say that I did. I suppose I can relate it to why some people want to climb high mountains. Its just a challenge.

Are there any chefs out there that can shed light on raising a family while in the industry?
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