There is a lot more to cooking than ....well cooking!

Joined Feb 6, 2002
Hi all,

Just wanted to pass on a few things Ive learned. I always wanted to cook but I also knew there were other things I had to know also. Ive been hearing alot of people say that they want to cook and they just focus on the cooking and not what goes along with it. Even if you are not aiming for "Executive Chef" there are a few things I think everyone should know.

In my short life, (Im only 24) Ive been an Admin Assistant, Paralegal, Human Resources Asst, Assistant Supervisor of an Auditing Dept, Receptionist, and Employment Recruiter. The first thing to all jobs is to keep records because you will never know when you need them. I suggest keeping payroll slips for a few years or if you are paid one of those reciept books from Staples and have your employer fill it out. Documents are IMPORTANT. For disability compensation, medicaid, unemployment benefits or legal issues.

Also never just look at your position as if you are gonna be nailed to the kitchen tiles for the rest of your life. Plan your advancement early. Take some courses at a community college like: Basic Accounting, a Foreign Language, Business Administration or brush up on cooking techniques. The more you know the more marketable you are. If you are the dishwasher watch what the prep cook is doing. If you are the sous chef watch what the exec chef is doing and find out what you have to know to advance to the next position. If there is a slow moment have him teach you a skill you want to learn.If you are out of work as a chef, temp with an agency and learn how to run an office right. Round out what you know.

A college student at a lawfirm once asked me how much I get paid and I told him I made $20/hr. He only made $7/hr and he had a college degree. I dont. Why was I getting paid that much while he was making so little? Easy. EXPERIENCE. Ive been working since 14, he just started. If I had a degree, along with my experience, I would have been making more than $20.

I know Im only 24 but I was making 50k a year when I was 22. I learned alot by supplementing my education. From questioning a few chefs in my area and reading what others say about their work I found out that there is more to the cooking profession than just cooking. You have to be able to manage people, keep track of documents (i.e invoices, inventory, food costing etc.), and still cook.

So for those of you who are in culinary school and expect to make the BIG BUCKS the first time out, you are in for a big shock. It aint gonna happen unless you worked in the restaurant industry before and only went for the certification and skills training. You have a lot to learn before the pay kicks in. Cooking is a Profession after all and you DO have to start at the BOTTOM of the ladder.

Enough ranting. Does anyone have anything else we culinary students should know?

Joined Jan 5, 2001
Beautifully put!
It all comes down to taking responsibility for ourselves. Too many people approach their future with this "what I deserve/what I am owed" attitude. It doesn't work that way, and I don't think it ever should. It's all common sense after all, even though it's easier said than done. Congratulations and wishing you continued success!
Joined Feb 6, 2002
Actually my first corporate job was at 14. I grew up in Barbados and had to take care of the garden and the animals from age 4. When you know what hard work it takes to raise, care and slaughter an animal then you learn not to waste food. Its like saying that the farmer who raised the animal is unimportant. Think before you waste the leg of lamb to improper storage or preparation. It took the famer thousands of dollars to sell it to you for that price.

I think all aspiring chefs should have an externship at farms. That way they KNOW where the animal come from and the work that is put into the care of the animals. Plus its has great networking capabilities don't you think?
Joined Jun 28, 2001
Good post I have been to Barbados to surf and it is a beautiful country (surfed Duppies, Soup Bowls and a few others :) )

Experience counts more than an Education in this field it seems (not saying that an Education isn't necessary)

I have gone about it the backwards way. Experirnce and low pay first, now I am in school and working toward my Associates and getting ACF Certified( by May hopefully)

Joined Aug 11, 2000
Great Thread.....
We are actually working on getting Nutrition and Dietic/culinary students out on a sustainable farm for a internship during the summer of their Junior year.
Mo Chapter of Chef's Collaborative has had 4 part series in 8th grade classes where farmers, chefs and dietic students give a demo/talk to kids.....raising black beans to put nitrogen in the soil, making black bean burritos and then talking about the affects on you body. The 4th segment is a trip to a farm....
I'm working on farm picnic this year that will include local culinary groups providing the sides with a guest chef cooking whole lambs.
Chef d'Cuisine wants to combine on programming and "get back to food". Culinary team is going to be cooking at the market this year....what a connection for these guys to meet farmers and cook with local foods< I got jammed last year and they subbed in beautifully, amazing how they walked the market and picked foods for demoing.>
I talked to the head of our culinary program yesterday and we're working on different combined projects....hopefully with Cheftalkers involved.
Soooo it's happening, just build it and they'll come.

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