Help! Fine Dining vs Hospital Chefs

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Joined Mar 3, 2017
Currently I'm working as a sous for a French fine dining scratch restaurant, I put in long hours 60 per week on average, 6 days a week. I'm making 46k annually.no benefits,vacation or sick day and seldom see my family. I'm approaching my 3rd year here.

I got offered $19.40 to work as a line cook for a hospitol 40 hours a week here in Seattle, wa. Vacation, benefits etc...

The question I have is will it hurt my career in the future long run vs getting something short term but halving work life balance is very tempting...

I will be making decent money but be working with more pre packaged food, cans and in a way lose passion working in a 3 week cycle.

Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated!
 
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Joined Mar 1, 2017
If you go with the hospital gig, you get benefits (+ for the family), more time at home (+ for the family), vaca/sick days (+ for the family--well, the vacation days are a +), less stress (+ for both you and the family).  

Trade offs are you don't get as much satisfaction, less pay and will be working with pre-packaged food and you may stunt your career.....maybe. 

If it were me, I would go with what benefits my family the most and that seems to be the hospital gig.  If you were single, I'd say stay where you are and drive ahead. 

Just my 2 cents. 

Good luck.
 
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Joined Feb 8, 2009
When everything is done and over you will find out what the important things were. Your family and the time you spend with them is priceless. Money doesn't matter at all. All that being said, you can have your cake and eat it too. Take the job in the Hospital and see where this path takes you. I was in you shoes many years ago. I took a job with a Food service Management company M-F 40 to 50 hrs per week. After 5 years I started my own Management company along with a Catering company. I believe if your good at what you do, you will find a path to greater things. Never lose your passion and drive to better yourself. Just because your taking a lesser position doesn't mean you have to give the job lesser in your quality. I learned that " IT doesn't matter where I am, as long as I could be who I am, where I'm at" ...Be true to yourself, be good at what you do.........Good luck.......ChefBillyB
 

pete

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We have had many, over the years, come ask very similar questions to this.  It's really hard to give advice because it really all depends on what you want from life.  Before I get into that, I will tell you that if you make the jump and spend any time in the hospital, you will have a hard time getting back into the fine-dining world.  I'm not saying that you can't but it will be an uphill battle and your first few gigs after will be tough as fine-dining cooks and chefs tend to look down on institutional cooks.

That being said there are some pluses to making the move.  Like you said, the hours tend to be better, the benefits better.  Often less stress and in the long run the money tends to be better especially when, and if, you get into management.  With better hours and less stress, home life usually tends to be a whole lot better.

The downsides are that it is not glamorous cooking.  There isn't a lot to get excited or passionate about.  There is very little creativity so many of the reasons you might have gotten into this business in the first place are gone or at least diminished.

So it is up to you to decide what you want out of life.  Are you fine pursing a job you feel passionate about, but maybe sacrificing some of your family life or do you want more of that family life at the expense of job that fulfills your creative side,\.  There's no easy answer and only you can make that decision.  I made the choice to get out of the restaurant world and into institutional foodservice.  After 8 years I miss the business a lot, still, but I have been able to enjoy many of things that I would have missed had I stayed, and I wouldn't have missed those moments with my daughter for anything.
 
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Joined Nov 27, 2006
I would . sure you'll make make 6 grand a year less  but I'm sure with a family you can use more then 6 grand worth of benefits. Technical you'll make more per hour due to the fact you'll work a 3rd less. and to be honest if you've been around your town enough that people in the industry like you then you can probably land a side cash gig.
 
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Joined Feb 8, 2015
Do what is best for you and your family and happiness.  I guarantee you it won't come from a steak or a Michelin star.  Life is good and cooking is a good means to take you there.  Fine dining is great.  But on the other hand good simple peasant food changed the world.  Live your own life and whats best for you and your family.  Worst case scenario quit and get a new job, no big deal
 
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Joined Mar 3, 2017
Thank you everybody for the sound advice and knowledge... I decided to take the position because I know now the time with my family is precious.. I know now I have to start back at square one but everywhere I have been I have climbed the ladder and proven myself time and time again, thank you again everyone for the wise words.
 

kuan

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The cooking may not be glamorous, but you are fulfilling a need.  Think of it not as cooking, but making someone's life a little more comfortable, and you are contributing the best way you can.  Sometimes it's not about the best, it's about the fastest, the early morning availability, the comfort, etc.  That is what you are providing.
 
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Joined Mar 25, 2013
Instead of a hospital gig why not explore other options.

If you're looking for benefits/pay/good cooking look into hotel restaurants.

I worked in Las Vegas at the MGM and the pay/benefits/food were all pretty good.

If you're open to moving to further you career it may be a good spot.

I know all the top restaurants are always short on good cooks/sous'.

Good luck with whatever you decide.
 
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Joined Mar 3, 2017
Thanks for the reply Peter I spent 4 years at the Hilton but it was my first job so I stayed long enough to gain my experience working as dishwasher,server,breakfast,line,dinner cook and eventually moved on to small businesses mainly to learn afterwards... butime I didn't make much in Hotels since it was my entry level job..
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
Think about another good thing from all of this......

The first time you see your family all sitting around the table at dinner time will be a memory you will cherish forever.
 
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Joined Jun 20, 2017
I'd say go for it but keep your skills sharp in case you want to transition back. Stay adventurous in your own kitchen and keep a good Instagram/Twitter account going with your creations. Plus going from 60/6 to 40/5 you will probably get board pretty fast. Hook up some part time hours with a decent restaurant that understands your situation and needs a little help - I'm sure there are many in Seattle. You could have the best of both worlds. But before all of that I would let your current employer know about your serious intentions - that could prompt a deserved promotion. 
 
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Joined Jun 20, 2017
if you're being offered that much, with no mention of salary, obviously it's a plus. That being said, I bet you can find a few ways to satisfy your desire to create and drive to stand out with the immense pressure to provide for your burgeoning family. I would say short-term this is a great opportunity to lay low but still be in a position to tinker a bit creatively within your generous bounds, and still lay the foundation for your family's security doing what you love. What a gift. Life is compromise/ to be offered a gig in this interim between Gigs and also in the midst of huge changes in your actual, personal life, I would sit on it like a goose egg, but keep those wheels spinning- sounds like a comfy stepping-stone- embrace it, chef!
 
5
10
Joined Jun 20, 2017
We have had many, over the years, come ask very similar questions to this.  It's really hard to give advice because it really all depends on what you want from life.  Before I get into that, I will tell you that if you make the jump and spend any time in the hospital, you will have a hard time getting back into the fine-dining world.  I'm not saying that you can't but it will be an uphill battle and your first few gigs after will be tough as fine-dining cooks and chefs tend to look down on institutional cooks.

That being said there are some pluses to making the move.  Like you said, the hours tend to be better, the benefits better.  Often less stress and in the long run the money tends to be better especially when, and if, you get into management.  With better hours and less stress, home life usually tends to be a whole lot better.

The downsides are that it is not glamorous cooking.  There isn't a lot to get excited or passionate about.  There is very little creativity so many of the reasons you might have gotten into this business in the first place are gone or at least diminished.

So it is up to you to decide what you want out of life.  Are you fine pursing a job you feel passionate about, but maybe sacrificing some of your family life or do you want more of that family life at the expense of job that fulfills your creative side,\.  There's no easy answer and only you can make that decision.  I made the choice to get out of the restaurant world and into institutional foodservice.  After 8 years I miss the business a lot, still, but I have been able to enjoy many of things that I would have missed had I stayed, and I wouldn't have missed those moments with my daughter for anything.


This is my first day on chef talk, and I agree with much of what you are saying. I stumbled on this thread to find out
 
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Joined Jun 24, 2017
hospital sounds like a great gig to pay the bills.. frees up time for the family and time to develop foods at home... but eh cooking to me is just a job.. one i can stand and one where i actually like going to work... cause i have to work.. if i didnt have to work, id hire a live in butler with mad grill skills and just live... but if awards and pushing the boundaries are your thing..... you know the answer.. 
 
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Joined Jun 27, 2017
There's a lot to gain from the hospital gig that can really help your future growth depending on how you play your cards. Put in your time there, get some work/life balance and when the time is right and you qualify, get your CDM certification. That will open all kinds of doors for you in the future. Good luck!
 
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Joined Jan 10, 2017
Depend on where you want to take your career. I believe the food industry is a larger playing field than what people make it seem to be. Its not all tweezer work and 40 dollar plates. Average humans would like to eat good food too! So I personally believe that by you switching your route to hospitals and or catering after your years of hard work in the fine dining scene; you'll be doing alot of people a favor by brining your professionalism and your experience to a scene where its more a trade than creative work.
You can train younger guys, teach proper technique and one can get great joy out of showing the noobs the proper ways of doing things.. Not to mentions, hospitals have been updating their style of cuisine! In Colorado especially hospital food has been greatly improved...
An of course the perks... No more late nights, painful joints and achy bones in the morning, the stress is cut to a minimum, life outside of work, enjoying the family, holidays and time off...
I switched to catering after years of Hotel work and restaurants.. Now I have a life, a healthy body, more time for my self and my girlfriend. I have the time and the composure to sit down and learn more about my industry and have my own plans for the future... I have the time for all of this!
So Fine dine or not, its all about producing good food that anyone can eat... all about the pride in your work no matter what sector of the industry one is in!!!
Thats my opinion
 

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