So how bad is it ...a life as a chef?

Discussion in 'After Culinary School' started by chef brah, Nov 13, 2016.

  1. chef brah

    chef brah

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    Culinary Student
    I have been cooking for years but in a semi-professional environment where i hosted dinners for friends & colleagues.

    cooked as volunteer in soup kitchens for hundreds of people.

    and worked in restaurants part time ..but not too much.

    but everywhere i read, there's discouragement as a chef

    words like 'you will be shouted at'

    'working long hours'

    'low pay'

    'physical toll on your body'

    i come from advertising where people shout at u all the time in front of others

    u work on weekends under a hangover

    u work all night till 1 am then show up to work at 9 am.

    you dont get much recognition but at best a pat on the back and pay raise is minimal to none for years.

    but atleast as a chef the work itself is satisfying...a dish coming together is better than a stupid presentation coming together where blood and sweat went in.

    my end goal is to have a business of my own.

    how realistic am i ?
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2016
  2. chefross


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    Former Chef
    If anybody hasn't already,,,welcome to ChefTalk.

    I found your comparisons between cooking and advertising to be quite amusing Chef Brah.

    Firstly, there is no way around the fact that working in our industry and doing it right IS hard.

    That's why there are so many crappy restaurants out there.

    Owners want to take the easy way out.

    You mentioned restaurant work as part time, so I know that you were exposed to the life.

    Cooking for colleagues, and friends is not like cooking in a faced paced kitchen.

    Shouting in kitchen these days is usually relegated to the older generation Chefs.

    Shouting these days may simply be necessary to be heard above the dine of the kitchen.

    We DO work long hours until 1:00 in the morning, go out and get sh_tfaced, come home and sleep, then have to be back at it again the next day early.

    The pay IS low unless you're an Executive Chef for a corporation with multiple franchises, or you're a celebrity.

    There IS a physical toll from working in kitchens for many years....after 47 years cooking I myself have 5 herniated disks.

    You DON'T get much recognition and if you're really lucky, you'll get a raise after years of commitment and hard work.

    I don't know what to tell you.

    It's a decision only you can make, but I'll tell you matter what job you take there will always be some kind of boredom that creeps in.

    Some find it very quickly and move on, while others stay for years because it's safe and easy.

    The issue for you is whether your love for our craft outweighs what others have told you or what you may have heard.

    That's something only you can answer.

    Best of luck...

  3. dosaic


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    Professional Chef
    Black and white response from Chefross, but do not let those facts put you down in pursuing a Chef career... I will give some other options, this may involve using your brain a bit more, you can get all qualified with your Certificates and to cover all bases go for the Diploma in Hospitality and the TAE40110, then you are widening your options, as demanding as it is, cooking gives you satisfaction a look into the wild side from a different perspective and freedom of being in complete control of what you produce. After 40 and with many  years working on your feet, late nights, drinking and awkward social life....time will come to start looking for a smooth transition, unless of course you still want to soldier on and keep pushing the envelope and join one of those Chef agencies  or work freelance from place to place all year round, still can cover all your expenses and have a relative rewarding life until you retire, it usually comes with the added tag of no responsibility, no care job, just do my hours and go home, you will become a "Cowboy"....
    ​This is where you got your plan B, Hospitality will give you a way out of kitchens and into Front of the house, I know, all chefs do not get along with front of the house staff, but believe me it will be a great experience, think of it as "Pasture grounds", you got your TAE certificate so training is on the cards, HR will love your expertise, more reasonable hours will allow you to do extra training probably into OHS, HR, Food Safety.....
    ​Yes, there is life after cheffing...or you can always run away with that crazy waitress from Byron Bay and make some organic vegan happy cookies...
  4. michellesaunder


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    Food Writer
    The best thing you can do is to speak to chefs and read about their lives. Pick up Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain as a start. There are also great website like and that offer interviews and insight from real chefs. 

    A lot of your concerns seem to be stereotypical. Speak to real chefs and don't listen to the hype!
  5. chef brah

    chef brah

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    Culinary Student

    i started reading kitchen confidential as per your advice and it brought some light.

    i have some experience in kitchen so i know some realities and expectations were minimal.

    in the end what i love is the craft...and hopefully in 10 years i can make a sustainable career out of it.