It probably depends on a lot of things; where you work, what you're doing, etc. And yes I don't think you'll be a chef right out of school, you'll probably have to prove yourself first. From what I've seen, going to cooking school doesn't prove much of anything...anyone agree or disagree?
Let's see, minimum wage is now what? $5.75? Okay, times 40 hours a week is $230; don't even THINK about paid overtime. For 52 weeks (unless you take vacation -- unpaid), that works out to just under $12K. That's more like it for someone starting out.
A dear friend of mine that oversaw 5 restaurants within the region and ran his own and a bistro was making $80K got fired because of a buyout and he's big money....just found a corp chef job for $40-50 wasn't specific.
$50k was what some of the highest paid in independant restaurants make that is what I gleened a couple of years ago.
$125K for highest CC and there are probably 3 or4 making that.
I have a dear friend who works crazy hours and makes salary $450-500 a week....and he's happy.
One who has run kitchens, went to CIA and worked at Greenbriar for a while (said NOTHING compares to that, live was soooo much easier after leaving) makes $14 an hour and no benefits.
Here in Boston, pastry people start at $9-10, more at the big hotels (~$12, I'm told, with overtime!)
After training, and about 7 months at my first restaurant job, I was up to $11. And I'm leaving to go to a new restaurant (but a fantastic opportunity to learn) at $9/hr. Radius, one of the top restaurants, puts it's folks on salary: one of my co-workers was offered $19K/yr, and didn't take the offer because she needs to work 2 jobs to survive in such an expensive city.
A pastry chef told me that he interviewed a recent culinary graduate, who told him she wanted about $35K to start. He told her that he himself didn't make nearly that much, and he was the chef!
I'm doing what I do because I love it, adn I have a saint for a spouse. But it does gall that pastry skills are so undervalued!
Annie, I think you're right about pastry skills being undervalued,
and more importantly, I think you've just given smg the most accurate snapshot about what the industry is like for someone starting out, bearing in mind that you are also in an area with a relatively high cost of living.
I can also add to my earlier comments that during the first 3 years of my cooking career, which were in Boston, I ALWAYS worked 2 jobs, anywhere from 60-80hrs a week. I don't think I could do it anymore, but back then I actually LOVED it:chef:
I agree with w.debord, starting salary is about $8. per hour. If you are lucky maybe $11 after 3 years or so. Working under a corporate chain or hotel will give you health benefits and marginally more pay.
Depends what you want, remember the grass is seldom greener on the other side as far as working in a restaurant.
But if that's what you love, so be it.
Word of caution, I've always had bad experiences at places that offer shift pay. Some days I would average $6/hour. I won't ever do that again.
It's a highly incestuous profession, little rewards, long hours, stress, fire, heat and lots of knives. Lots of alcoholism. Opposite hours (restaurant-wise) from family.
Personality, no matter which kitchen it is, you just walked into a room with strongly willed individuals. And if you're just starting out, yep, you're the new kid on the block. Keep in mind that not all kitchens have culinary grads, it certainly helps though.