How did you end up in "the life?"

Joined Aug 7, 2001
What made you want to cook? Did you fall in by accident by working at a McDonald's as a teenager? Did you know it for certain and go to culinary school instead of college? Did you try something else and realize later that cooking is what you wanted to do? Born into a family business?

Tell me your stories!

Joined Feb 21, 2001
I was forced into the restaurant business by a girlfriend who said I needed a job. I got a job as a busboy in one of Boston's first Breuer chair/hanging fern/exposed brick restaurants and got hooked. And luckily, cooking turned out to be something I could make a living at, because The Great American Novel wasn't getting written any too fast. There were a couple of days I pulled shifts as a busboy, and a waiter, and a prep cook. When the chef realized he had a live one, I moved into the kitchen full time. That was 27 years ago and the obsession hasn't let up yet.

Almost forgot--after 21 years of cooking I treated myself to pastry school and now I only bake. But I guess the cooking career is something I could always fall back on if I can't get a job making cookies.
Joined Mar 6, 2001
I started at 16 working at fast food restaurants and waitressing at local restaurants for spending money. Went away to art school for a year and the funds dried up. Not ready to be independent I came back and went to the art school closer to home. In return for a roof over my head I had to wash dishes at Moms new bakery. I watched and learned. As her assistants came and left I kept saying "but Mom, I can do THAT". One day she let me make pastry cream on my own with no instructions, when I did it with-out burning it like I heard her warn her assistants (over and over) I became the next assistant. I found baking and decorating cakes to be alot of fun, easy actually.

Ten years later I met my husband and discovered I couldn't work those kinds of hours and make a marriage work (I was working all nights and all weekend, he worked traditional hours). So I left what was now a busy catering business and went into my 'chosen career" as an artist. Did it for almost 10 years. Realized I'd probably have made the same amount of money if I had worked at McD's all and all.

Went back to baking for the money and realized how much I loved it and that it's WAY easier then being an artist...maybe Mom was right.
Joined Dec 12, 2000
I had a great home ec teacher in grade 8, thats what sparked my love of the kitchen, also cooking provides more stable income than acting, which is what I wanted to do before getting introduced to cooking.
Joined Nov 29, 2001
Originally posted by SlaveGirl

What made you want to cook?

I'm Italian. Nuff said.

Did you fall in by accident by working at a McDonald's as a teenager?

Food is so much a part of the Italian culture. We eat when we're happy/sad/indifferent. I saw how much joy it gave people when my mom or dad (both are excellent cooks) took her or his place at the stove.

Did you know it for certain and go to culinary school instead of college?

I am not a school person. My brother is a school person. He graduated summa *** laude, 2nd in his class, saludatorian, majored in Psychology. He gets a lot out of a classroom environment. The only thing I want to get out of a classroom is me. He is like my mother, very book-dependent. My father believes "if I can't do it with my hands, I don't need to know it." I knew I'd get nowhere in college if I went, so instead, I pursued something I truly loved and legitimately wanted to learn more about. This is how I wound up in culinary school and at no time did I feel I was "settling" or "doing the lesser thing."

Did you try something else and realize later that cooking is what you wanted to do?

Nope. I always knew cooking was what I wanted to do but unfortunately, I got accustomed to the trappings of a life lived by the income generated by office work. Had I been aware at 18 right out of high school that a good living could be made at cooking, I would have pursued it at a younger age. Complicating it further, XH-2 didn't support my culinary aspirations so I was truly chained to an office job. It was only later in life I was able to get a taste of what I really wanted to do professionally.

Born into a family business?

I wish. The family who owned Polly-O cheese struggled hard to become #1 and then their kids lost the business (sold to Kraft). Then there are those whose parents work hard at a food business, and they want no part of it. They don't have the calling and don't understand that a food business, done right, can be extremely prestigious. Look at D'Artagnan and the Balducci family. I'm sure they're not scraping by. Give me those businesses over a law firm any day.

Time to continue packing. Thanks for the break!!
Joined Feb 6, 2002
My grandfather was a cook, my uncle made beer, my aunt is a baker, my other aunt is a pastry chef, my mother is a cook, my cousin is a chef........BUT MY GRANDMA IS A TERRIBLE COOK!

Maybe it is part of our home training to know how bad food can taste in order to learn how to make good food. All of us do "time" with grandma and each of us has a personal grandma's cooking horror story.

Then our parents and aunts and uncles surround us with delicious food and pastries. I started at 4 or 5 and continued from there. I always loved good food. The rest is history.
Joined May 26, 2001
What made me want to cook? I love to eat. I realized that cooking requires all the organizational and analytical skills I've learned in all my other lives. (see below) And I got banged on the head a lot by my mother's elbow while I watched her cook.

By accident? Something else first? This was a very conscious choice made after I had fallen into my first career and then chosen about 4 or 5 others. None having to do with food. As for school -- since the light didn't come on for me until relatively late in life, I had way too much college (BA and MBA) before I went to restaurant school. However, what I learned along the way is still helpful. (see above) Part of my philosophy of life is that just about everything we learn can be useful, if we have the wits to see the connections.

Family business? Well, one of my aunts married a man who owned a delicatessen, and we used to go there a lot when we visited my grandmother who lived nearby. But back then, who knew it could be a career choice for a girl? And anyway, she wasn't my favorite of all my aunts.

There is just nothing as satisfying as working with food. Food might be difficult, and it might not always do what you want it to, but it won't talk back or quit without notice or look at you uncomprehendingly and then mess up. If you treat food with respect, it will do wonderful things for you. And it will help you make other people very, very happy without having to deal with them directly.
Joined Mar 12, 2001
I always loved to cook when I was little. I would pull up a chair, climb into the cupboards and mix everything I could find into a 'cake'.
I also went to drama school for about 6 years when I was a teenager, but when I finished highschool cooking seemed to be something I could get a job at more easily than acting.
On reflection, cooking was also my greater love.
I worked for 6 years before I decided that having my 'papers' could be useful, so I went off and did a condensed course for people with trade experience.
My Grandmother always made food that I loved, and my mother is a very generous host, so I suppose that some of those positive food experiences rubbed off on me.
13 years down the track, I have just taken on my first head chef's job.
I am already thinking about what to do with the rest of my life, but I am so obsessed with food that I don't think I'll wander too far.
Joined Apr 16, 2002
I grew up as a teen during the early 80's a the time of the resesion in B.C. Tough times no money so I decided to make my choice at that time since there was a lot of employment in the feild. Little did I know but within a few years I discovered a huge passion for cooking. Working for the Four Seasons did this to me. I has changed my life forever. Now that was the one of the best things to ever happen to me.
Joined Feb 19, 2002

Love your site. Helps pass the time at work... occasionaly.

I did some pizza kitchen work in a popular Chicago Italian joint while in high school. Friend in college did bartending at a fine dining place and would often get tips from the kitchen staff. We worked on these tricks a lot in our apt. kitchen. Have had the cooking bug since.

Finished school and have been working in my field (Geography) for several years. Cook all the time at home, which the wife really appreciates. Took a part time position at a caterer about a year and a half ago to scratch the itch, then realized that I wanted to be in the kitchen always. Taking the intro cooking class at local culinary program (Schoolcraft College), but am considering entering an ACF apprenticeship as well.

When are you going to cut bait or fish? You seem to love the kitchen, but are having problems with letting go of the salary. I share your stuggle, but you only live once, right?

Joined Oct 13, 2001
I can still remember being a hungry child . I started cooking with Grams at about 8 years old and I have not stopped since . I made the move from hotels to healthcare about 5 years ago and am now a foodservice manager with a chef working for me . Moneys good , hours are good and Im the boss . Food has been good to me .
Joined Jan 21, 2002
I was laid off in Nov 2001 from a then career in internet marketing. I'd always had the thought of becoming a chef (the cook step didn't really register at first though) from the time I was in high school. So without a job and really getting bored despite my weekly stipend from unemployment, I decided to look into culinary school.

A family friend's daughter worked in a kitchen in NYC and arranged a couple of days of trailing for me to check out the life and see if it was something I would like and could handle.

After the first two days, I knew it was something I wanted to do and I just kept on going in (for free, of course. Who was really going to say no to half-competent free labor). After two months(and some asking) I got hired. I'm still awaiting the start of cooking school.

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