Tough decision

Joined Jan 18, 2006
Ok, so I'm sure some or all of you have been in this situation before:

I currently work at a nationally known restaurant owned by a very well known celebrity chef. I am constantly learning and work with the best market produce I could wish for. My quandry is this; I have a friend that recently got promoted to sous chef at a hotel I used to work for. This hotel is definitely NOT market driven, and it's best offering is a four diamond prime steak house which does absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. I would be working for the "American" family type restaurant, but the menu would be improved by my friend. I would be making about 800 bucks more a month (it doesn't sound like much, but a lot for a poor line cook), and I would be driving half the time (I currently drive 1 hour to, and 2 hours from work). What do I do? I know the obvious decision is to stick it out and stay where I am, but the past couple months I have been paying for gas and a couple bills with my credit card, which is about to be maxed out. I have been constantly looking for part time and catering jobs, but with my hours it's been a little hard to find something. What would you guys do in my situation?
Joined Aug 30, 2005
Here is what I'm doing; as with anything, take what works and leave the rest:

- I'm in a rent-controlled apartment. As a cook, obviously I fit the income guideline requirements. :p

- my building is near my workplace. I'm in a city with a lot of really nice restaurants, and all are within walking distance. Current commute = 2 blocks.

- no car, but no need for one thanks to our bus system

- I do temporary contract work through an agency which places culinary people all over with catering outfits, corporate cafeterias and such. Which means working on my days off, or doing doubles going from gig to full time job, sometimes to the tune of starting at 5am to do a breakfast shift, and not stopping until 11pm and my real job is over. Typically the work is very boring, but it pays somewhat better. I stop for awhile when I'm too tired.

- I have a private gig where I am a personal chef for a neighbor. This is a once a week thing which pays pretty well. Some PCs cook a month's worth of meals for a client in one day; if you get a customer like that, you'd be doing even better than me in terms of time management.

Having been in debt myself, and only recently totally cleared it, and also knowing myself well enough to know that I need work which is fulfilling, working part time and private gigs while keeping your job with the celeb chef would be what I would choose. It would kill me to go to a corporate place full time, and in fact, was why I left a more lucrative career to cook instead; I hated what I used to do that no matter how much it paid, I couldn't save a single cent.

Good luck, I hope you find something that works. Debt really, really sucks and creditors are the scum of the earth.



Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
I would move on. Put your experience to good work and more money.
Joined Aug 21, 2004
How long have you been working professionally?
How long have you been at your present position?
Joined Oct 18, 2007
At first I was going to say that if you are still learning new things, then you should stay.
Chasing the money this early can hurt you later, as your learning curve starts to flatten out.
But you stated that you're piling up some debt.
If it's not out of control, if it's something you can work on by rebudgeting, then I would still recommend staying.
Perhaps it's time to talk to the queso grande about a raise.
A little more money would seem to solve your problem.

If you pass up this opportunity, keep an eye on your friends place.
Chances are that if he wants you now, he'll still want you later.
Or he could end up gone in six months, which would probably mean that you also would not have the security you seem to have where you currently are.

If it were me, I would stay where I am at, let the boss know of my opportunity, and see what they do.
The results of that conversation would go a long ways towards making up my mind.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
China Jim has some very good suggestions, especially asking for a raise at your current place and seeing what happens at your friend's place in 6 mths from now. The final nail on the coffin (for me, at least) is the commute. True, $800 seems like a considerable amount, but when you factor in the gas, the maintenence on the vehicle, and the sheer odds of something happening to you on a highway 3 hrs a day, 5 or 6 days a week.
Joined Jan 18, 2006
I've been cooking professionally for a little over two years, and at my current position/place for about 6 months. I did ask the chef for a raise, which I received, but I still need more. I definitely let him know that I appreciate it though. Where I work, it seems like we go through a whole team of people once a month. Only being there 6 months, I'm one of four original non-pastry cooks on my shift. We've been open since about june or August of 2007.

Oh and about the commute, the place my friend works is less than half the distance, not twice the distance. I commute longer now.

I think I've pretty much decided on staying where I'm at. One of the sous chefs where I work brought up the point that you should never go back to work where you've already worked (it would have to be a really spectacular deal and you must have really enjoyed what you did there in the first place). This is only mediocre, and it would hurt me in the long run more than help. I just need to find some catering jobs here and there, but they don't pop up on craigslist very often.

One more debt is manageable. It's just hard because it's always hanging over my head. I'm really hard on myself, and the fact that I can't financially take care of myself the way I want to is tearing apart. I don't what I would do without my wife's encouragement.
Joined Dec 26, 2007
you should stay at least a year at your current place. yes, it's a bounce around kind of business, and that's how you learn, but when i see a resume with bouncing after only a few months, i toss it in the reject pile.
Joined Jan 18, 2006
I've looked at retail stores, tutoring and a few other types for part time. I was originally trying to find something with no weekends as I work lunch and have them off, but now I need anything.

Latest posts

Top Bottom