I miss the restaurant

Joined May 19, 2018
Hey everyone!
My first job ever was in cooking. I loved every minute of it, but I couldn’t see a way to raise a family with it without sacrificing A LOT of time away from home. Plus every cook I met advised to do something else. (Btw I still respect these co workers more than anyone else I have met so far in life ) So I went to school and studied in a field that has become a second love, but I find myself missing the kitchen. I don’t fit in with people that are not from the restaurant business. Everyone seems so pretentious outside of restaurant work.

Sometimes I wonder if I left the industry prematurely.

Is there anyone that has experienced this before? How have you dealt? How do you raise your family on a cooks wage?
Joined May 30, 2015
I don’t fit in with people that are not from the restaurant business. Everyone seems so pretentious outside of restaurant work.

That's the main reason I left journalism to return to cooking. My only friends at work were the TV engineers (blue-collar. roughnecks who fixed the equipment & did technical stuff). After 6 months there, I spent more time out back smoking with them than actually working.

I don't know what salary you make now, but the restaurant industry can pay well if you find the right job & location. It all depends on location, how you rank on the totem pole and type of establishment. When I went back to food service from journalism, I only took a $1 cut in pay, but I was very selective about where I went and firm in my salary negotiations.

As far as work-life balance, again, a lot of that just requires firmness on your part, and it can be an issue in any field. I work 5 days a week, period. If my work calls when I'm off, I don't answer it. When I hit the 10 hour mark for a shift, I go to the sous chef and say, "I'll see you tomorrow." If she whines about it, I go to the executive chef and say the exact same thing, "I'll see you tomorrow," and leave. Sure, if it's a holiday or someone quit, I might stay, but only on those rare occasions. And, if you're worried about working weekends, there's plenty going on M-F (museums, art displays, parks, etc.) so I wouldn't sweat that aspect of it.
Joined Mar 1, 2017
I think the majority of cooks in the food industry have had a love/hate relationship with the professions at least at some point in their careers. I think its fair to say that we all love to cook but, we all have certain aspects of the job that we don't like. It could be a co-worker, the restaurant, the pay, a particular chore....anything.

People leave and come back to the food industry all the time. Its nothing out of the ordinary. However, its a rare and priceless situation when you find someone who is working in this industry on their own terms. I was fortunate enough to be such a person. However, the harsh reality is the vast majority will never have such an opportunity.

There is no easy way to work in this industry and raise a family. This is precisely why the food industry has one of the highest divorce rates in the professional world. Even if you own your own restaurant and operate it under your own terms, you are almost certainly putting in more time at work than you are at home. If you are successful, the salary usually takes care of itself. But, the losses in time otherwise spent with your family can never be redeemed. But, that does not mean you cannot mitigate these factors.

So, if you are fortunate and crazy enough to be able to work in this industry on your own terms, here are some tips to help you along.

- Always work in this industry with a goal i.e. to be an executive chef/chef de cuisine, owner/operator, manager etc;
- Do it before you have kids if possible;
- If you are able to accomplish working under your own terms and decide to get married and have a family, get a pre-nuptual agreement. This industry is littered with the carcasses of great restaurants torn apart by divorce;
- Get your kids involved in what you do as soon as you can. Its a great way to spend time with them and teaching kids how to cook is a gift that will benefit them for the rest of their lives regardless of whether they follow in your footsteps;
- When my children were young, my restaurant was only open for breakfast and lunch so I could be home with them at night. I worked my way towards that goal over the span of a few years and fortunately, it worked out. When the kids were old enough, I transitioned back to lunches and dinners. This was by no means easy nor do I recommend this maneuver. It was a calculated risk that I believed was necessary for the sake of my children. I had many doubts and sleepless nights along the way, but, it worked out in the end.
- Lastly, treat your work as your wife and your wife as your mistress. It will keep your relationship with your wife fresh and exciting but, most importantly, it will help you keep things in a healthy perspective. If there is one thing in this business that is extremely easy to do, its lose perspective.

Good luck. :)

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