im a nurse but i want to be a chef! :D any tips?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by asiringchef, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. asiringchef

    asiringchef

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    Just Graduated From Culinary School

    i'm a nurse, but i want to be a chef. i'm definitely a food enthusiast. i find it hard pursuing my dreams because i'm already a registered nurse, and people expect me to work as a nurse. but i would really like to go in culinary school and be a chef. its so hard, its too expensive now entering culinary school. they say 80percent of ur life would be spent working, so might as well do something your passionate about. geezz..any tips? :D im new here! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/peace.gif

     
  2. matt4foodword

    matt4foodword

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    Firstly you have to really want to do it as long hours low pay and constant demands can get to you. on the other side there is nothing like positive feedback from diners. I trained years ago while working and just had to lose half a day off every week for a year, fees will differ in different countries I'm from the UK and it cost me a few hundred pounds to attend 1 evening for week at college.
     
  3. panini

    panini

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  4. sausagegirl

    sausagegirl

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    I always tell people who are interested in culinary arts to first get your feet wet.  I know, I know, it sounds so trite...

    but seriously,  see if you can find a small restaurant near you, and tell them you are interested in learning about the rest.

    business...could i work here a few hours,  maybe a couple times a week.  You would really be surprised at how many

    places just need a little extra help.  Good for you to get you feet wet and good for them because they probably could use a 

    little help.  I think a lot of people think that the restaurant business is all that stuff you see on T.V. and it is not even close!
     
  5. prairiechef

    prairiechef

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    Stay a nurse.

    Spend your money on decent knives and cookware.

    Take some evening courses at your local school.

    Cook for fun.

    You asked for advice. There you have it.
     
  6. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    I'm moving this to an appropriate forum.
     
  7. benway

    benway

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    I Just Like Food
    I had a friend in a similar situation.  Ultimately she started a catering company and eventually quit her job.  This route makes sense as its an easier career to slide into and the restaurant scene is often not what people expect.
     
  8. asiringchef

    asiringchef

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    i know right. its the best feeling when people appreciate u and the food u make. :D
     
  9. asiringchef

    asiringchef

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    THANK u so much guys!/img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif  :D just so u know, im 22 years of age and been tryna find out what do i want to be. my dad's a pastry chef, supervisor in one of the biggest hotels in our town. i asked him once if he could let me assist in their kitchen, but he wouldn't agree. says the hotel is strict in that sense. so i would like study really and get a certificate but then there are too many other expenses. i'm just a nurse volunteer these days so i don't earn a cent. there's no problem on getting my feet wet, do little sacrifices but its so hard really hard when people expect u to do something else and there are limited opportunities here, some establishment won't let u enter their kitchen without certificate. being a nurse is a very noble job, i'm happy with it but not as happy as being a cook. :D /img/vbsmilies/smilies/tongue.gif
     
  10. theunknowncook

    theunknowncook Banned

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    aspiringchef:

    There is a distinction between cooking as an avocation vis-a-vis cooking as a vocation. When you cook at home, you do it because you enjoy it, and you do not have any time constraints, nor any nasty supervisors, kitchen managers, nor concern yourself with: Food Costs, Labor Costs, Inventory, Controlling Costs, Profit, Loss, Insurance, etc., not to mention, purchasing your own: cutlery, tools, utensils, cake decorating kits, uniforms, shoes, etc.

    As a nurse, you might have to buy your own uniforms and shoes, but your livelihood does not depend on what you put on the plate, while everything is going wrong in the kitchen, such as the equipment malfunctioning, or breaking, especially when you needed it. You have a full-rack of tickets to cook, but you're out of food to cook with, but you don't have anyone to go to the grocery store to buy more food, nor call any purveyors to make a special delivery, nor any other chefs in the area willing to lend you their product until you can replace them.

    Your Kitchen Manager is berating you for falling behind in your orders, and the wait-staff are impatient about not getting their tickets cooked in a timely manner, and to make matter worse, you've cut and burned yourself, and knocked your saute pan on the floor, and spilled that Pasta Alfredo on the floor, and covered your not so slip-resistant shoes, and the Alfredo sauce is seeping into your socks, but you also don't have another steak to replace the one you just ruined, because it was overcooked on the char-broiler, because you were distracted trying to do so many tasks simultaneously, that you forgot to check the steak so that it became charred, but you cannot un-cook it to medium-rare, or whatever scenario you can imagine.

    Two tables walked out on you because you took too long to complete their orders, and now you have wasted plates of food under the heat lamp, your feet, knees, back, neck, and head aches, not to mention, you've already cut and burned yourself earlier, you want to go home, take a nice warm, bubble-bath[I know that women like to take bubble baths, but I don't take bubble baths, at least not since I was a small boy], and sleep, but you can't, because you must stay and finish your shift. Another cook didn't turn-up for work again because he was a no-call, no-show again. The dishwasher also suddenly quit because he was too lazy or inebriated to work, and would rather carouse with his friends. The dishwashing machine malfunctioned, and cannot be serviced because no one can reach the repair technician because it's a holiday, and he is away, and to make matters worse, not that you care at this point, there isn't any detergent, nor sanitizer, nor even liquid dish detergent[e.g., Dawn] either, and therefore, you have no clean plates to plate your food, and everything progresses from bad to worse, and you would rather have a beer or a glass of nice red wine, and forget about your menial job for a while, but you can't, because you need to repay those loans for your culinary education, car, etc. Your car needs repairs, you're behind in the rent, the bills are due, and the dog needs to be fed too. Remember, you work when everyone else is playing. You work weekends, holidays, and you might wonder if you ever will have any time off to relax, catch up on much needed sleep, or simply to do mundane household chores.

    I have worked for 3 restaurants which have never paid me my back wages. Contacting the Department of Labor is an exercise in futility. They simply ignore them, or they are now defunct. Good luck in trying to locate them, or trying to get them to pay anything. You will meet many unscrupulous characters in this trade: criminals, alcoholics, drug-addicts, etc.

    Now, if you see yourself working in that kind of environment, then consider doing an ACF Apprenticeship. You would be working for 3 years, earn wages, and a 2-year A.S. degree in Culinary Arts at the community college. I recommend doing an apprenticeship at the Broadmoor Hotel. As an apprentice, you would rotate throughout every station in the kitchen, and learn each station's duties. Afterwards, you could do a finishing apprenticeship at the Greenbrier Resort. If an apprenticeship seems too rigorous for you, you could attend a community college. The ACF and Shaw's Guide both list many community colleges. See my post in this thread. Feel free to PM me if you have anymore questions. Take stock in your life, and decide for certain if the cooking trade is really what you desire to do as a vocation. I have heard that R.N.s can earn $55,000/year. I don't know of any cooks earning that kind of wage. The entry-level food-service, restaurant jobs in my area pay $7-8/hour. Forget about the private, cookery schools. They are not worth the exorbitant tuition that they charge. Community colleges are a better value for the money.

    So You Wanna Be a Chef by Anthony Bourdain

    Good luck. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/chef.gif
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2011
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  11. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    "they say 80percent of ur life would be spent working" I am a chef. My wife is a nurse. I work 70 hour weeks. She works 24 hour weeks. She makes 3 times as much money as I do."so might as well do something your passionate about" Best be damn sure you are passionate and not just excited!
     
  12. mikez

    mikez

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    Boy this thread really hits close to home for me as much as I'd love to quit my job as a Sr. network engineer and become a chef. I almost walked out a few days ago because I just couldn’t take it. But then I realize things like what theunkowncook says. Also being fully aware that my salary would get cut by way more than half and my work hours doubled... So far I have stuck to taking cooking classes, cooking for family and friends almost every weekend having dinner parties and stuff and I love all that. I have done volunteer work at a butcher shop and am about to approach the fish monger here to learn that too. I also love the feeling of cooking great food for people and enjoy watching them enjoy the food. Now asiringchef you are in a different situation since your dad is a pastry chef supervisor and stuff, you haven’t dove head first for 10 years in a career (I’m 32)... I would say defiantly try to get in a kitchen or some apprenticeship. I remember when I was looking to go to the culinary institute of America and one of the prerequisites was you had to have at least 1 year (i think its 3 months now) experience in a cook to order kitchen. Not something like McDonalds but a real restaurant so they know that you are serious about it.

    That  ACF Apprenticeship  looks REALLY interesting.. there is a place 5 miles from me that participates too.. man sooo tempting to quit it all and start fresh :(

     
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2011
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  13. rob ring

    rob ring

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    For what it's worth, my wife has been an RN for 15 years and she could write a "day-in-the-life" post that would make theunknowncook's post sound like a day at the park /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif.  Yes, the pay is definitely good relative to a chef.  And yes, it's noble.  But if you don't LOVE it, it will either break your spirit or make you cold and jaded.  And trust me when I say that the worst "my day in the kitchen sucked" doesn't come close to "my favorite patient died today."  Unless you have a "my cooking killed someone" story, in which case you might want to find a different line of work. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

    You're young.  I'm guessing you have few or no commitments (mortgage, kids, spouse).  Your whole life is ahead of you.  Take a flyer.  Be irresponsible.  Be impulsive.  Forget about what you SHOULD do - you'll have plenty of time for that later if you take a detour now.  For now, do want you WANT to do.  Do what you love!  Or what you think you love.

    What's the worst that can happen? If you find out that you really don't love the life of a chef (or the life you'll need to live before you can even be called "chef"), then start over.  Try something else, and if you don't like that, start over again.  Wash, rinse, repeat. 

    But what's the best that can happen?  Happiness, fulfillment, success.  Pretty high upside, pretty low downside, if you're willing to ignore what you (and others) think is the "right and proper" thing to do.  And don't get your feet wet first - dive in headfirst!  Do it or don't do it, but don't half-ass it. And while I fully respect the informed opinions of the culinary pros who can tell you what it's REALLY like on the line, that should not dissuade you from diving in - it just means that it's best to dive in with your eyes wide open.  But "it's really hard" or "it's way harder than you think" is the worst excuse for not doing something.

    Easy for me to say.  And the best advice always comes from some random guy on the internet /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif.  But trust me when I say that life will pass you by before you know what hits you if you spend your time worrying about what could go wrong and what you should do.  And once you get fat, dumb and happy in a cush job that you don't love but it pays the bills, you'll almost never have the guts to change your situation.  "Most men (and women) lead lives of quiet desperation."  Don't be most men.

    Rob
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2011
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  14. prairiechef

    prairiechef

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    "they say 80percent of ur life would be spent working" I am a chef. My wife is a nurse. I work 70 hour weeks. She works 24 hour weeks. She makes 3 times as much money as I do."so might as well do something your passionate about" Best be damn sure you are passionate and not just excited!"

    BINGO!!!

    My ex-wife (there's a lesson in there too, if you look) was a massage therapist. I was putting in 26-29 days a month, 14-18 hours a day, no overtime. I was getting home at 3 AM every morning, she'd leave for work at 8 AM. I'd leave for work anywhere from 8 to 12. She had weekends, Tuesdays and Thursdays off. I usually got a Monday, if at all.  She took home more than I did.

    I was a young, hardworking, married homeowner with a basset hound and a work ethic that could not be beat. I busted hump and made my way from green apprentice, (making ends meet by working in a small "Pita Chip" snack food factory in the few hours I had away from my "career")  to Exec Sous in a large Hotel in 5 years. I moved from there to Chef in another Hotel, and on to F&B Director/Chef (double the fun for no more money).

    At what price did I make those moves? I'm now single, living in a WWII era apartment building... my spine is shot (I've spent 1 1/2 years of the past 5 almost completely unable to move, stand or sit) my knees are shot, my wrists are shot (playing my banjo is an excercise in agony)  I'm rail thin, I get about 5 hours sleep a night (old habits die hard). My entire social life centres around work realtionships. When I get home, the last thing I wanna do is cook. The corner pizza joint knows my order. And I have a very good relationship with my local cornerstore guys. All my free time in the summer is spent riding my motorcycle (my real passion) and my other "passions" (carving, painting, drawing, music, etc) fall by the wayside.

    Passion is great. Passion is fantastic. Passion is often irrational.

    Keep your passion and cook for yourself and your friends. Maybe someday down the road, you can open your own place and share that passion with the world, on your own terms. I honestly never advise anyone to get into this business, and in fact actively talk people out of it. I can't imagine doing anything else, myself... but I think that has more to do "painting oneself into a corner" than anything else. It's a thankless, ugly career. It has transient high points... "YAY I Got through the busiest hour of my career!!!... oh well, here comes another one", it has real joy (600 people all sitting in silence as they devour their food), and there are days when you get yet another phone call robbing of you of the one day off you've had in a month.  So you sit, crying in frustration as you pull your shoes on and you watch your life slide away from you as your friends slowly stop calling, and you miss another birthday or New year's Eve, or Valentine's Day. You don't hang with the servers, cuz they all get off earlier than you, and they don't smell like fish, garlic, fry oil and sweat. So you end up sitting at the local punk bar with the other cooks, pounding shots in the hour you have left before last call so you can pass out and get up in 4 hours to cook Sunday Brunch for a bunch of people who think cooking is such a glamourous career.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2011
  15. the-boy-nurse

    the-boy-nurse

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    At 22 I'm guessing you haven't been working long in the field. Just want to throw out some economics- Nursing low entry barrier, (even lower since you already have the degree) relatively high starting pay, limitless options. Don't get me wrong it is hard. I've been a nurse for almost 14 yrs all of it in an ED or inpatient setting. I was lucky to fall into what I wanted to do at 19. I have had many students/orientees who are not built for inpatient nursing, but make great hospice nurses or school nurses or d/c planners... I don't know what options you've explored but explore them all. Additionally everybody's job sucks in one way or another. Even Hollywood Divas and NBA players whine that nobody understands them and they work sooooo hard. Not saying don't become a chef just saying few jobs are as flexible as nursing in terms of schedule, location, and consumer population. You think someone telling you your food is good gives ya the warm and fuzzies, how bout a thank you note from a woman who had no pulse a week ago.

    Another economic thought- opportunity cost. Every decision/investment you make comes at the cost of what you could have done with that time/money. I don't pretend to know anything about how you spend your time but it's amazing the stuff I have learned turning off the TV and just doing it. I don't know what your money situation is but a steady income nursing will provide (channeling my inner Yoda- curse that frank Oz) and therefore funding for all kinds of exploration. 

    Life is like a multiple choice test- the right answer is usually all of the above.

    Just curious- and you don't have to answer this but if you dislike nursing enough to consider another career why are you doing it for free?

    TBN
     
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  16. prairiechef

    prairiechef

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    "You think someone telling you your food is good gives ya the warm and fuzzies, how bout a thank you note from a woman who had no pulse a week ago."Funny, I was just about to edit my post to show the flip side... having a patient die is most likely terrible, though I imagine the pain get easier to handle after it happens a dozen times (my "35-years-a-cop" father's indifference to rotting, decayed corpses comes to mind). But, cutting the end of your finger off, deep frying both legs or breaking your arm in a floor mixer sucks always. ;) (yes, all things I have witnessed... the finger tip thing was me, the others were, well.. others :) )Cooking is not the world's toughest job, despite what we in the industry like to wonk about. But, when you toss it on the table and do a pay to work comparison, it's simply not that attractive.
     
  17. jazzcook

    jazzcook

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    I changed careers to cook.  I don't think I'll ever be a real "chef" as I'm starting too late, but I will be a good professional cook someday.  I definitely traded better pay and fewer hours for the chance to work in a kitchen...now I work twice as many hours for half the pay (literally, not exaggerating).  So far I'm happy, it's been about six months.  I was lucky to get into a good restaurant, and I'm paying my dues starting at the bottom (cold station, sandwiches, salads, BRUNCH!). 

    You're fortunate that you're still young, without the baggage of already having a long career you've settled into.  Get into a kitchen and give it a try, if you don't like it you can go back to nursing or try something else even.  Don't rush into cooking school!  Kitchens are a lot of work and you never have enough time to do it all, not to mention the "thrill" of getting slammed with tickets when it's busy.  At least you're used to being on your feet all day already, I wasn't and I was feeling it haha...  Give it some time and if it feels right and you're sure you really want to be a "chef", then start looking into cooking school if you really want.  The industry is much more about where you've worked, who you know and building a reputation.  You don't need cooking school to someday run your own kitchen, but it also depends on what professional path you take; the "corporate" realm of cooking probably places much more importance on a degree compared to regular restaurants.

    The industry is very transient; in my six months I've seen a few people come and go already.  Start looking around, there's a place that needs some help somewhere near you, but realize that without experience you'll have to take what you can get.  Good luck!
     
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  18. the-boy-nurse

    the-boy-nurse

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    This may sound weird but very often death is the expected outcome- My wife (also a nurse) frequently comments that we don't save lives, we prolong the inevitable. It comes for us all. One of the most difficult yet satisfying things a nurse will ever do is to assist patients and families through the dying process.

    Deep frying your legs? That can't be good.

    TBN
     
  19. prairiechef

    prairiechef

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    "Deep frying your legs? That can't be good.  "

    I was 14, I had lied about my age to get a job frying chicken at Dirty Bird. (why i stayed in kitchen after that experience is beyond me).

    One night, one of my co-workers had cleaned all the fryers, and went home.

    He forgot to install the u-pins in one the collectors.

    next day, the day cook came in, turned on the fryers and brought them up to temp.

    First basket of chicken she dropped, closed the lid, and when the pressure rose... the collector blew out of the bottom of the fryer. Soaked her from thighs to feet. The skin sloughed off both legs.

    Worst kitchen injury I've seen to date. I hate deep fryers.
     
  20. leeniek

    leeniek

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    Prairie that sound horrible!!!  Was the dirty bird a Swiss Chalet location?  That's what I have heard it called here...

    When I was young I wanted to be a nurse.. and my mom who was a nurse talked me out of it, so I became a special needs worker instead.  Then I had kids, stayed home for a while and in that time I discovered I really enjoyed cooking and wanted to make a career of it.  It is hard to transition from a home cook to a restaurant cook and not everyone who tries to make the jump is sucessful. 

    To the OP, do not give up any nursing work until you are 100% sure that a career in this business is for you.

    All the best to you and keep us posted as to the path you choose
     
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