Need advice on my career path to chef

Joined Feb 11, 2011
I have started to look into a few schools that offer a culinary certificate.  Cooking has always been a passion of mine but I have never had to opportunity to work in that position.  I have three years of restaurant management experience under my belt but feel stuck.  I need to get into the kitchen.  I make pretty good money doing the restaurant manager thing but currently live on my own and could not afford to take a course at LCB or another type of school only be offered a line cook job for $15/hour after completion.

I'm looking for examples of jobs and pay you have been offered after completing the culinary certificate program without any prior experience in the kitchen and how long before you became a sous/executive chef.

Any and all help is appreciated.
Joined Dec 16, 2008
If you are talking about working in a restaurant, having a certificate over a degree is something most chefs/hiring mgrs/etc don't care about. You don't get a pay upgrade as a line cook because you have a degree, cert, or no education but have experience. 

Also, what restaurant do you manage that DOESN'T allow you to come in on your off day to help out in the kitchen?

For salary info, go to and look under line cook in your region.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
What are your reasons for going into the kitchen?

(hint, the money sucks--big time)

O.K. so you've been in rest. mngmt, now put yourself in an owner's shoes:

Guy comes in with a shiny new Culinary degree/certificate/paper scrap.  Diddly-squat for experience.  How do you check for previous references?  Yeah yeah the paper says he can cook, but how fast? How accurate? How clean? Can he and one other guy put out 80 covers on a Wed. night? Just because I have a valid driver's license doesn't guarantee that I obey all traffic laws and don't run over little old ladies.  ( I don't, anyway)

What do the majority of the employers pay a freshly minted culinary grad with no previous cooking experience?  Minimum.  Certainly not $15/hr.  Couple years of experience under your belt, yeah sure. 

"How long before I become Sous, Exec Chef?"

Well.. first lets put it this way:
-A cook gets judged by what they put on plates.  Period.

-A Chef is judged by how he/she manages the resources given to them by the owner.  Good food is one, consistant food is another, time is a biggie, labour another biggie, money another one biggie, equipment another.  Dude doesn't make money for the place, he gets the boot.  That's a Chef.  That's how he/she's judged.

An "Executive" CHef is one who manages  multiple kitchens.  More than one.  Dude who's managing one 40 seat place kitcahen and calls hisself an "Executive Chef" is only fooling himself.

A Sous Chef is the Chef's right hand man.  Chef trusts the guy to run the kitchen one his day off. Dishwasher a no-show? Deal with it, don't call me at home.  Reach in blowing hot air in your face? Deal with it.  Line cook walking stiff-legged to the parking lot during service muttering something about "Just checking on my car" and walking back loose legged with a shite-eating grin on his face? Deal with it.

But how long you ask?


How much can you absorb?  How fast can you react, then how fast can you act?

Are you able to swallow crap? Work shite hours? Let the Chef patch up things with the wifey while you work the 80 hr weeks?

Like I said, the industry pays crap wages to cooks.  You 've worked the dining room, you've gotten tips on a big table and then watched the guest dab his lips on a napkin and instruct you to pass a verbal compliment to the boys in the back.  Money sucks for cooks.  Even if you do make it to Chef, you'll be working 80-90 hr weeks, so when you have enough balls to work it out on a calculator, you know it won't average out to more than $18.00 per hour.

Don't take my word for it.  Ask your boss to let you have a peek at the payroll.

Passion's all fine and dandy, but passion don't pay the rent when you put your back out or have a 8 day cold and can't work.  
Joined Dec 17, 2009

I can't add anything to foodpump's post. He knows his craft well. Interesting read: So You Wanna Be a Chef by Anthony Bourdain. It is a miserable life that I do not recommend to anyone. I have been struggling in poverty all of my life. My body aches, my savings account is empty, my creditors are waiting to be paid, so that I am not evicted, and sleeping on the streets, but I must go out to work, and even that is scarce in the collapsing economy, dismal job-market.
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Joined Feb 25, 2011
Thank you, foodpump. That sums up everything for me. But I'm in it for passion. Poverty has been a constant companion, but my well-off friends, relatives, and acquaintances have been giving me help by letting me cook what I want, although for a minimal fee. I really want to develop my strengths that toy around troubleshooting, innovation, and intelligent cooking. I guess I like thinking. Whatever works that's good (not necessarily excellent), profitable, and efficient, I go for it.
Joined Jul 25, 2011
Howsit boet,

gee - you rather a frustrated one, whereby in some ways I do understand as well, to an certain extend it is just the way you say it.

Whereby someone needs to know what he wants, I am a chef since the past 22 years, and the learning/ growing period as a chef is for sure a hard one, to the same time for sure one of the most exciting one too. Whoever chose to become a chef better gets the facts right before making this decission. In my opinion, the 3 year trainship is rather a pleasure, the real deal begins thereafter being a commis chef/ most junior in the kitchen - depending where someone really works. In a professional classic hotel/ resort enviroment you for sure a production slave, this is the time in which I suggest for anyone to make a decent difference within his attitude as this in what most youngsters are meassured on, its about your connection and relationship of your superior, a soldier backround is most worthy and helpful, my motto is - the faster you move the faster you arrive. In between the age of 20 and 30 no chef working on a career should ask for $$$, you merely earn skill and knowledge within the industry and a respectfull reference to enter the next step, you will be able to pay rent - food is usually supplied. The industry has many benifits, the best one I experienced is to travel for free and explore the world, as an onshore homeboy chef you will never be able to do that ever, the $$$ are as good in the beginning to survive, but the more you know - for the more you are able to sell yourself. I love to be a chef - I have 50+ chefs in my kitchen and it can be real fun - to the same time I am married and have two kids - both of them are keen to become chefs. I strongly believe as long as you enjoy and love to cook it can be the best job ever, I never could be some stiff accountant, a slick lawyer or slimy sales rep for some shitty produce from Monday to Friday 8-5, same faces everyday. The way up is hard - but there will be fruits to harvest for sure, money is not everything. Best regards, chefvik!
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