Need advice...

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by ben0728, Jan 9, 2014.

  1. ben0728

    ben0728

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    Hello all, I am an 18 year old who has just recently dropped out of school to pursue my career as a chef. I am passionate about cooking and am very enthusiastic to become a great chef.

    I am aware that chefs work long hours, for me that simply can't happen. I have a girlfriend and a child who I love very much and I dont care how passionate I am about a job, they come first. I would like a 40-50 hour week once I earn my NVQ in culinary arts.

    Is this really the right job for me if im not prepared to put in 60-75 hour weeks? Thanks any response is greatly appreciated!
     
  2. chef1991

    chef1991

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    I am by no means a Chef, but I will take the title as "Want to be Chef" since I love the culinary industry. To start, I recommend watching shows such as Restaurant Impossible and Kitchen Nightmares. They may be a bit wacky, but they are true problems that a lot of chefs run into in the kitchen.

    As for the hours, in my humble opinion, a good chef doesn't just show up, cook and go home. They teach, mentor, clean and so much more. If you're only wanting to work 40-50 I'm sure you can find a job, but I doubt it will be what you're expecting. 

    Cheers.
     
  3. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    If you want to work 40-50 hours and you have no previous restaurant experience.... good luck. 

    I wont lie but finding a job working those hours with decent pay is not so easy. 

    The reason cooks work 60-70 hours a week isnt because we are well paid but many times for the experience and for the passion we have in the industry. 

    I work 55-65 hours weeks and have worked equivivelent to 14 hours a day as well. 

    You will just have to try hard to find a job and keep it, and hope its decent. 

    As stated its possible to find a job working lower hours i just cant guarantee it will be what you want. 
    I think anyone who wants to work in the industry, as well as progress and learn should be ready to put in 60-70 hours a week, especially if you are a recent culinary grad or have no previous or little working experience. Its an industry where you may have to work long hours in a hot kitchen, you have to be free to work on days off if other cooks flake, you have to realize the pay may or may not be great, and that you may or may not lose your social life , depending on the circumstances. 

    Most culinary grads dont even work the industry after working these hours. It isnt for the weak. I am a believer that in this industry you sweat, bleed, and cry and that if the industry is the right place for you at the end you wont regret it. 

    To this day i have ony had 1 job that allowed me to work 45 hours a week , during the lunch shift. It was a nice job, but at night if we had events or special dinners we would work like dogs. 

    I am only 1 year older then you my friend , been in the industry for almost 3 years ( will complete 3rd year in march). Right now im going after a management degree. In Febuary i start juggling my classes and a job once again, ill be coming home to do homework and hopefully sleep a max of 6 hours on weekdays. 

    Again your schedule could be easier but it really depends on the where you live, the place you work, commute, pay, who is your boss, how is the clientele, and how much experience you may possess or want to possess in the industry. 
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2014
  4. ben0728

    ben0728

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    Thanks for replies, great advice taken.
    I hear a lot about chefs working long hours thus having a negative effect on their home life. I am not going to put in 70 hours a week, not because I can't be bothered, but because I really can't I've got people who depend on me and need my support. Any chefs who would give me advice on weather or not this profession is a good idea if you have a kid to look after?
     
  5. redbeerd cantu

    redbeerd cantu

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    Unless you are fortunate, if you find a serious restaurant that is going to give you the experience and knowledge you are seeking in order to achieve your goal of becoming a chef, it will be one that will demand more time than you appear to be willing to sacrifice.  The truth is, no matter which field you are in, if you want to be the best and be in charge, you can't do so unless you dedicate yourself to it.  No part-timer is going to become the CEO.

    For some perspective, look at your situation:

    You aren't willing to work a ridiculous amount of hours because you want to be home with your family.  Those crazy hours you would be working will be spent at home.  You are sacrificing your career desires for time with your family.  If you reverse the situation, then you'd have a better chance of career success, but would be sacrificing time at home. 

    You have to decide what you want.  If your home is in tact, then there should be an understanding that the time you are away is productive time, with a successful future THAT YOU WANT as the main goal.  If you can't do that, then you can't expect success at work.

    Part-timers aren't managers, man.

    Peace.
     
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  6. ktanasy

    ktanasy

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    If you really want to become a good chef you need to devote time into it. I spent many years working 70-80 hours a week plus holidays to achieve an award winning status. I now own two very successful restaurants and can now enjoy the benefits of my efforts. Things were very different in the business 35 years ago, now you’re more likely to find a kitchen job with less hours, however this will never allow you the opportunity of becoming a great chef. If I had to enter the business today, I would consider becoming a pastry chef. A pastry chef can earn a good salary and most often works a regular 8-10 hour day with night off, most of the time. Besides a good pastry chef is in high demand these days.
     
  7. apprentichef

    apprentichef

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  8. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    Alright im going to be brutally honest. 

    Chances of getting a job that pays well and works 40-50 hours in this industry isnt something you see too often. 

    In your shoes i would finish highschool, then go after something else. 

    You have a child and a relationship.To me it seems like hiring a full time babysitter or care taker for your child not an option, as well as you want to be with your family often. Not sayng that its impossible but with with little experience, no networking, you have to think....

    Their are people in the industry willing to put in more hours, have more experience, who have traveled and worked in other counties, who bleed, sweat and cry, and continue to work in the field, etc....

    Look into another industry... or job pertaining to the food business but not as a chef. 

    The chef is the first to come in and the last to leave, has a experience, etc...

    You could simply work as a private chef or be your own boss and work your own hours, but that requires money, networking, management abilities and an 18 year old wanting to become a private chef isnt something people are going to buy so easily....you could attempt catering, but that could be just as stressful and depending on the company or parts of the year just a demanding. 

    This is just my opinion it isnt law, but im just stating what i think , and probably what many others may be thinking as well...
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014
  9. chefs chef

    chefs chef

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    No way. I recommend you make plans to get out of the industry ASAP.

    Just because you think puppies are cute does not mean you will be able to be a veterinarian .
     
  10. andybbq

    andybbq

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    You know what? 60 to 70 hours a week evaporate, when you are doing what you love!

    I´m not a chef or a restauranteur, but I have had my own business for over 25 years, we build water purification equipment for industry.  I have a wonderful 20 year old daughter and an understanding wife.  If you love to cook, you will find a way to balance it all.  I suggest reading The seven habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey and The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho.  Best regards, Andy
     
  11. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    It all depends what you REALLY want. And at this point, I doubt you really know. Because  on the face of it,

    your proclamation of wanting to be a Chef, and your seeming limited understanding of what that means are sort of

    cancelling each other out. And I also think you're....pre-limiting yourself and your own future by prescribing

    parameters and boundaries and restrictions well in advance of even thoroughly exploring, let alone gaining

    experience in, the field. I might also add that youre not the first to come to this board and seek advice on how to

    become a successful 9 to 5 Chef. In fact we had one such in here just a couple months ago.

    All that said, I'll throw it out there....

    I see CT as more or less... a support board. People who come in here with the wrong idea, are seeking

    advice from pros or ex pros who can set them straight....on facts. But to me, telling noobs in here

    this  career isnt right for them, seek employment elsewhere, you lack the passion, you'll fail in your first

    6 months, you're pipe dreaming, etc etc ...well sort of defeats the support oriented purpose.

    We really cant know nearly enough about a person to make that call based on a few 10-line posts.

    Can we? I mean I tend to respond negatively to some of the more cokcier attitudes some have displayed,

    so I may have fallen into this early dismissal myself. My bad.

    But my love for the industry tells me we need MORE love for the industry right now....and as we all know

    love is developed.

    As to the OP, youre putting the cart before the horse. IMO, culinary school does not train you to become

    a Chef--that's the sales office talking, right before you pledged your valuable time and hard earned

    (well they soon WILL be) student loan dollars and signed on the dotted line. Rather it trains you to begin to understand

    how to prepare to begin the process of learning through hands on experience how to one day become a Chef.

    And at that it only gives you so many advantages....and a few disadvantages, over pursuing it without the schooling.

    As to the industry, there are cooking and apprentice (for lack of better term) jobs out there for 40 hours a week.

    You aint gonna run a restaurant (and certainly not OWN one) working those hours, but they can certainly put

    you on that road to getting there. And by the time you can SEE the saddle in them yonder hills, your family life will

    have hopefully progressed to a point where your partner, and your by then pre-teen or teenaged child will pretty much

    have come to accept that Dad is going to be putting much more time in from now on to pursue the Chef career

    he has spent years proving he TRULY wants.

    I'm just sayin'......
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
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  12. mikelm

    mikelm

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    Ben, I'm going to be a little rough on you...

    You're a high-school dropout, an unmarried, teen-age parent, and you imagine that your uninformed enthusiasm will allow you to enter a demanding field- on your own terms.

    This is not going to get you anywhereYou have no concept of how big a hole you have dug for yourself.

    You will be lucky to get a job as a dishwasher, and if you do your employer will tell you how many hours you will work; if you don't want to do that, you won't get the job.

    You need to get your a** back in school - and graduate. You should get counseling to achieve a more effective attitude and approach to life. With luck, that will be available to you in school.

    You need to marry the mother of your child and take real responsibility. Getting her knocked up doesn't make you a man: it's how you take that responsibility that does. (And I will say, your inclination does seem to be in the right direction on this.)

    Hectoring from an old fart?  Yeah, but I have grandchildren older than you, l have three college/graduate degrees, sometime Navy officer, and I started my own business and have run it for thirty-plus years.  I have some idea what I'm talking about.

    I do wish you the best of luck. You will have to earn that luck, though.

    Mike
     
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  13. french fries

    french fries

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    The logical conclusion seems pretty clear: don't be a chef. Nothing wrong with that. I'm very passionate about food and cooking, but i'm not a chef. I never will be. The 70 hours a week sound like a nightmare to me too, so I chose another direction. One were I can work very little and still support my family and spend a lot of time with them. And I can cook them good dinners ... just for my and their pleasure. 
     
  14. padkeejoe

    padkeejoe

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    Friends and certain extended family members have badgered me from time to time about "why don't you become a cook (chef they'll say). You're talented and you love it."

    My response is: "because I appreciate what they actually have to do."

    Bottom line is that it's an entire range of skill sets and a level of commitment that I know full well that I lack under those conditions.

    Now, if I were the original poster's age (or in my 20's) today, and had some unique culinary angle that I thought would sell, I might consider a food cart or truck.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2014
  15. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Please tell you that you have dropped out of college, not high school.  College degrees are expensive and not always necessary, but you'll get nowhere without a high school degree.  And it won't be long before you won't feel too goo about yourself, you can bet on that.  So... finish high school please and then make this decision.

    As per becoming a chef, not wanting to work long hours and following dreams.... I'm not a chef and I am not in the restaurant industry.  I grew up in my family's restaurant and I know first hand what a grueling difficult life it is and the happiest day of my life was when my family sold the restaurant and moved to the country to retire on a farm.  It's not like what you see on tv, famous chefs can now sit back and write best selling books and open restaurants in 4 corners of the world.  But before all that they were working an ungodly amount of hours.  I don't think it's right, I simply cannot buy into any profession that requires that many hours of physically demanding work.  Cooks work every holiday, every friday and saturday night, all the times that their families are relaxing and enjoying themselves they're in a kitchen somewhere.  It's inhuman but people do it and there must only be 2 reasons: they need the money and they hunger for success.  It sounds reasonable to me that a person should be able to survive working 50hrs a week but then again, this is america and 50hrs a week at a menial job is considered lazy.  
     
  16. biggawatts

    biggawatts

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    Do something else... ask any chef how they did it? The answer will not be "I only work 50 hours a week and have weekends off".
    it will be I worked 70 to 80 hours a week and I was johnny on the spot for a long time.. not trying to be mean just telling you the truth
     
  17. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    It would seem to me that since you are already concerned about the number of hours potentially involved, that you are not really passionate. Those type of questions never enter the mind of passionate person.

    My advice would be to find another career and keep your love of food and cooking alive by leaving it as free time pursuit. Many a hobby has been ruined by attempting to turn it into a full time career.

    I am fanatical about skiing. I do not want to to be a skier ( patrolman or instructor as examples) for a career. I can choose the weather conditions that I want to ski in. I can ski when and where I want. I can ski for an hour or I can ski all day. Since learning to ski 35 years, and after many 100 ski day seasons, I have greatly improved as a skier and I can hang with just about anybody. I am not passionate about skiing, just greatly enjoy it. I am SO glad that I didn't spoil it by turning it into something I had to do.
     
  18. ben0728

    ben0728

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    Thanks for replies guys. Guess being a chef isn't the ideal profession for me regarding my circumstances. Think I will make it my hobby rather than my profession :)
     
  19. andybbq

    andybbq

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    Very well put Cheflayne.

    As for young Ben, I wish you all the best and hope you find your destiny.  Somehow some way get that High School diploma.  Don´t let that become a future obstacle when you are probably closer than you ever will be to getting it.

    Best regards,

    Andy
     
  20. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    That you have come back and thanked strangers for tearing into your ass (out of love I assure you) shows a degree of maturity I had assumed you lacked.

    Go finish school...take the GED...if you halfway listened in class and can read and spell and cypher it is a given you will pass it.

    Protect and support your fledgling family (birth control is a form of love ya know) take some sort of classes that lead to a certificate or vocational license of some sort.

    Learn to cook and feed those you love.

    Teach your sons to be men and your daughters to be young ladies.

    You are a rare bird....a young man that wants the best for his wife (hint hint) and children.

    Way too many one parent households in this world.

    mimi