I've been trying to quit...

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by Jeremy Fulmer, Mar 5, 2018.

  1. Jeremy Fulmer

    Jeremy Fulmer

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    So,
    I've been trying to recuse myself from the culinary industry. I still love working with food. Love the smells, colors, textures, myriad flavours, and when it all comes together, finally, on the plate after everybody's hard work and contributions. The problem is multifaceted. I started late. I was 28 when I graduated culinary school and had my first job. 2nd, I have always been the guy who always had to work two or three times harder than anybody else just to keep up what is considered a normal kitchen pace. This unnatural level of speed for me has caused many problems from being perpetually in the weeds, to missing orders all together, to missing small details at times which ended up playing a crucial role in some facet of the plate, and the constant captivity to line cook positions has left my body with permanent damage from the repetitive activity which invariably plagues line cooks. To further complicate matters, I took out loans to pay for school. 15 years later, I'm still paying on these loans. No line cook job has ever even payed enough to more than scrape by. This seems like a grave injustice to pro cooks. They invest their bodies and lives to ensure expectant guests receive the best possible food and service for their money. It's especially infuriating in operations where banquet personnel make as much as $5 per hour more than the pro cooks who make it possible for them to have a banquet for them to even work. In my experience, cooks are always the redheaded step child of the f&b world. So much rides on the shoulders of the culinary department, and they are always the first dept to get blamed. It seems Maybe I should have never embarked upon this journey. Perhaps my experience is not every pro cook's experience. All that aside, I still sometimes dream of a world where every cook and chef takes pride in a clean kitchen. Where every cook and chef have the same vision, the same level of excitement to get to work with the best ingredients, the same drive to accomplish great things, and the same resolve to create the best experience for their guests AND fellow cooks and chefs. That's probably just a pipe dream. I don't care about being a "food god" as the connotation goes. I've only, always, ever truly desired to prepare anything and everything I worked with in the best way possible, which highlights the very best attributes of that ingredient. I have always felt a great appreciation for the bounty of ingredients at our disposal, and as such, have done my utmost to respect and care for them and have always urged everyone around me to do the same. I feel like this whole career has totally backfired on me, and all the work, blood, sweat, tears, and life I gave up in dedication to it, has all been a waste of time. Yet, I'm still in debt because of it. Such a mix of emotions. I readily admit that I was never a perfect cook, but I was a hungry cook. Hungry in every way. It just really smarts that everybody you seem to work with are either just payin bills, or running over each other competing to become the next chef without regard for anything else. So be it. There's my vent. I honestly intend no ill will against anybody who reads this post. Just venting and trying to figure out what a 41 year old cook who dropped out three years ago, basically, except for a couple of short stints because nobody else seems to want to hire me, should do from here. Jobless right now, and have the possibility to have another line cook job if I just make a phone call or drop an email to the right person. Where to go, what to do...
     
  2. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    Hi and welcome to CT.

    If its any consolation, your situation is not unique in the F&B world. Burn out is a very common thing. in fact, it underscores the brutal truth that not everyone who aspires to be successful in this business is meant to be successful. Based on what you have said, I think you understand that grim fact.

    So, you have two choices: 1) you can turn in your knives and say it was a good run. There's no shame in that. Only the residual balance on your school loans; or 2) you can do something about it. Anything good that has ever happened to me in the food industry happened because I made it happen. That means taking a risk. If you do not have kids, look into moving where the food industry is more vibrant and alive. Look for a job working with food you have never worked with before. Get out and network. Talk to street food vendors and food truck owners. Try and find some vestige of that spark that made you go to culinary school in the first place.

    Good luck!
     
  3. someday

    someday

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    Wow that was a big wall of text. Paragraphs are helpful, my dude.

    What is preventing you from being a chef or sous chef? Someone who has been in the industry as long as you have should have or be taking that next step.

    You also speak exclusively about restaurants...have you ever explored other outlets in the industry, things like schools, hospitals, retirement/assisted living facilities, etc? There are a lot of things to like about those types of places, and a lot of them turn out respectable cuisine given what they do. It would allow you to stay in the industry but maybe take some of the day to day grind out of the job and allow you to have a little more balance. I'm not saying these jobs are easy or anything, as any job (especially in the culinary industry) has its faults and hardships, but they might be a little less intense on a daily.

    You don't say what types of places you've worked at or where you are located, also. Maybe a change in scenery is warranted?
     
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  4. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    There is only one rule that works in this business. You work your ass off until you reach your highest goal. That means working all the necessary positions in order to accumulate enough knowledge to either become Head Chef, Executive Chef or Restaurant Chef/Owner. I don't know anyone who is happy working for a lot of years being a line cook. If the end goal isn't getting some reward for all the hard work then the journey wasn't worth it. The journey is brutal and many don't last for many reasons. The end result of a hard working career has to be some financial success. I never wanted to fall into the prestige of the Chef position without the money that goes along with the long hours and responsibility.

    There are many positions in this business that will allow you to succeed if you feel the restaurant business isn't your strong point. Like "Someday" said. You can get good money and a lot of creative culinary rewards from working in Hospitals, Catering and Cafeterias. Everyone has a path in life, follow the path that fits you the best. This business doesn't have to be full of heartache. This business should be a chance to express ourselves and feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day....Good luck.......ChefBillyB
     
  5. ChefBryan

    ChefBryan

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    I agree with the two posts above. I would look for other avenues in this industry. I am currently the chef at a hospital and I couldn't be happier. In general they pay more, have excellent benefits and pto. Health insurance and 401k are not exactly abundant commodities in the restaurant industry. We start untrained cooks and "dietary aides" at a higher wage than you would ever find in a restaurant. There are a lot of trade offs, but if you view them as challenges you will be just fine. I make more for less hours than I ever would have elsewhere in this area. With a family now I couldn't imagine working every night, weekend and holiday, 80 - 100 hrs a week. For me the it wasn't worth it, and now I have many more opportunities to give back than I ever would have elsewhere. I can't say I don't also enjoy blowing peoples mind and changing their perceptions of "hospital food"
     
  6. Jeremy Fulmer

    Jeremy Fulmer

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    I apologize for the lack of usage of paragraph format. I have worked in 4 and 5 star hotel and golf community/resort type operations.

    As for what has prevented me from being able to ascend the chain of command, mostly my own lack of self confidence, and, as I mentioned previously, my inability to be able to move quickly enough, and master the line. That's not to say I have never been offered a position. I was, accepted reluctantly because I knew I wasn't ready for sous in a fine dining restaurant yet, and was duly demoted due to my inability to perform at that level at the time. I was offered another opportunity while in banquets to take on banquet sous, but I had no confidence in my ability to perform. I seemed always unable to overcome my shortcomings which only served to frustrate me all the more.

    I have explored some of these other outlets which you have mentioned, most are pending some sort of response from the entities. They don't seem very open to and some even say not to, solicit information from them. Usually, they restrict contact information so you can't call them if you wanted to.

    Thanks for the encouragement!
     
  7. hookedcook

    hookedcook Banned

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    Cheer up man and grow some balls. A lot of this business is fake it till you make it. If you are over 40 you NEED, not want to go after a sous or exec job. If you don't do it now you will be a line cook forever and it's only going to get harder to move fast the older you get.

    Do what you need to do to gain a little confidence!! I've jumped off the deep end lots of times second guessing myself. I'm a yacht chef and have people paying 250,000 usd a week to eat my food. I ask myself every day if I'm that good of a chef. I put my head down and work hard and have never had a bad charter. I'm happy when the guests are happy. This is a tough business but also a cool business because there are lots of options. But don't doubt yourself and try to move up now or it will never happen for you. Good luck
     
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  8. redbeerd cantu

    redbeerd cantu

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    What school did you go to that cost so much that you're still paying for it 15 years later? A school that expensive should have provided you with a superior training experience that should only have been bolstered by the many following years of experience you've accumulated.

    As rough as it sounds, if it is your lack of confidence that kept you from trying to move up, and you still want to move up, then chef up and make it happen. You're the only thing stopping you.
     
  9. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    I can't agree more.
    The food biz is so broad and varied. That creates a need for people to fill that broad and varied a talent base.
    There were times in my life where I'd work 2 or 3 different line cooking jobs if I didn't have a chef job. The hours were about the same.
     
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