How to get started?

Joined Feb 2, 2002
I'm looking for career change now that I've been out working for almost 20 years (if you can call writing software working). Prior to getting into software, my other career choice was going to be culinary arts (although they didn't seem to call it that back then).

Most of the time through high school and college, I worked my way through various positions in both "institutional" and restaurant kitchens. Even at the time, I was questioning whether I should drop the engineering school and instead concentrate on cooking.

I've read alot on the subject now and have decided that it is a change I'm ready to make, although many frineds have tried to talk me out of it. I realize that it'll be a very different line of work and very difficult especially for someone over 40 to be starting out all over again.

Given all that, how would most of you recommend starting out? Some of the recent posts have recommended either "just getting into the kitchen, even washing dishes (which I was pretty good at!)" to even offering to shadow in a willing kitchen.

My initial thought was to attempt the "shadow" route coupled with taking some courses at the local Community College which does offer a certificate program. If I'm still enamored with this choice after that, then possibly attend a more in depth culinary school.

Thoughts? Suggestions?
Joined Jun 28, 2001
I have 15 years in foodservice (all of it at the same restaurant by the way) and will soon be leaving to find a job in Atlanta hopefully in one of the higher end restaurants.

I will be ACF Certified as a Sous Chef in May, but I will probly take a job as a line cook somewhere, because I have to be on the line.I am a very hands on person and my thinking is that if you are willing to get in there and do the "dirty work" with the crew that they will respect you.

I can tell you that standing on you feet for 10-12 hours a day 5-6 days a week will wreak havock on you knees, ankles and feet.
I am only 32 but my lower body feels like it is 60.

If it make syou happy, go for it.


Joined Apr 6, 2001
Your initial thoughts sounds solid to me. Shadow or stage at a restaraunt for as many hours as you can afford to in order to see if you still like the working condition and hours. The more hours, the better, this way it will give you a more accurate picture of life in a professional kitchen. And taking courses at a community college is definitely great. You can never have too much education.

It's never too late to start over. There are many cheftalkcafe members who have switched careers after 20-30 odd years in another industry.

Good luck, and let us know how you're doing.

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