What got you into cooking/being a chef ?

Joined Jan 23, 2010
...what is the first memory you have of being inspired into cookery?

me, i was fascinated by the knife skills of Chefs on television how they could slice vegetables so fast without loosing their fingertips, when i was young i was like 'wow, i wish i could do that!' it looked impressive at the time...

cookery is also the most practical subject i studied at high school, it was the one subject i could learn more from practicality than theoretically ... theoretics lack creative and aesthetic aspects of a subject imo    
Joined Aug 13, 2006
I think i was born wanting to cook.  I used to make mudpies for my whole childhood.  I knew where there was the dark dirt (chocolate) and the pale dirt (vanilla) and would mix in snow in season (sugar) (dark dirt plus snow made something much resembling fudge!).  I loved the manualness of it, the feeling of mixing, all that.  I used to imagine being on a cooking show (and this was before even julia child, so i don;t know what cooking show i thought i would be on, maybe just some advertisement or maybe there were some shows, I don;t remember.  
Then when i got to high school, i think it was, or maybe college, Julia Child and then the galloping gourmet shows came on and i learned many techniques and did a lot of cooking even back then. 
Joined May 29, 2006
Accident. We lived in a bad neighborhood and for the summers my mom sent me to camp. I got to old to be a camper so took a job in camp bakery, for free camp and 50 cents an hour. Discovered I liked it and then enrolled in culinary high school in NewYork. My family was realy disapointed because in the late 50s & 60 s a chef was low on jobs totom pole.Decided if I am going to do this I want to learn all I can of it. I got into apprentice program in NY hotels. The old Astor, waldorf, pierre, commodore, essex house with the old european chefs and cooks. Nothing came already made everything scratch.and boy did you learn, these guys screamed and cursed you out if it was not right. . Would I do it again  YOU BET.
Joined Dec 20, 2008
Thanks for posting that "Ed B",  I have always respected your posts, and now I know a little bit about the man.
Joined Mar 10, 2010
Hunger got me interested in cooking. I was poor and needed to learn improvisational style cooking if I wanted to live.

I've gotten interested in chef type cooking, since I developed Anorexia Nervosa. A low body weight makes the brain obsessed with food...all types...any kind. So now I have irresistible urges to hack up a carcass and eat strange things :-0 And my doctor wants me to engage in as many "normal" food activities as possible. So here I am :) Wanting to learn all I can, especially the "yucky" stuff while I'm in a frame of mind to handle/enjoy it.
Joined Feb 8, 2009
I got into cooking because, my Restaurant GM told me, if you ever want to fire your Chef, you better know how to cook. I thought good point, so I started my journey. I found it to be a job that you got quick gratification. You made the meal, they liked it, you feel good about it.............Chef Bill
Joined Mar 3, 2010
you know for food was always around me, and yeas i enjoy  food alot, in my family money didnt matter as long as food was on the table and a roof over the head. I always wanted to be a cook and love it when people eat food it reminds them of the time they ate this dish or memories they get when eating food. it took me a while to actually go into culinary school but once i was in i knew this is what i want to do. if i could cook and do this for the rest of my life i am fine with it. i love cooking with few and simple ingredients such as italian and make food that tastes great
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Joined Oct 18, 2007
I was adopted (bear with me).
My adopted dad was a great mechanic.
He worked for Andy Granatelli and helped him develop the Novi engine.
There's even a picture of him in Andy's book "They call me Mr. 500".
He pretty much knew everything there was to know about cars, at least until computers started taking over mechanics.
I would attempt to help him in the garage, but my dad was also a mean drunk.
He would tell me to grab, say, the torque wrench, without ever having shown me what tools were what, and I would look for what I thought might be the right tool.
Invariably I'd pick the wrong one, and be met with obscenities.
So, I'd end up in the kitchen watching and helping my mom.

Years later, I took a job as a dishwasher just to have a job.
While other dishwashers hated to do pots and pans, I loved it, because the pot and pan sink was in the kitchen, where I could listen to and join in on the cook's raucous stories.
Eventually they would give me prep tasks and I took to it like a duck to water.
I had a knack it seemed.
From there I progressed upwards through the ranks, sometimes taking a step sideways or backwards but eventually going forward again.

I love cooking. More to the point, I love feeding people, seeing the looks on their faces as the enjoy what I have done.
Gives me a sense of fulfillment I get nowhere else.

With the right environment I could've ended up a mechanic.
While I enjoy doing simple tasks with my Mustang, I don't think I would enjoy it as much as I do cooking.

You asked. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
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Joined Aug 21, 2009
My mom wasn't the best cook, I don't think she liked it much and my dad was a big fusspot when it came to meals so meals when I was growing up were pretty boring.  I wanted some variety in what I ate, so when I moved out to go to college I started collecting recipes and cookbooks and trying them out just to see what I liked.  After staying home with the kids when they were small I knew I didn't want to go back to working with special needs people (I had been out of the field for too long) and I knew cooking was what I wanted to do.  I had thought of becoming a personal chef and still one day I would like to have my own pc business but right now I am very happy where I am in the kitchen.  
Joined Jan 12, 2010
My Dad passed away when I was little and because the family needed money, I was working as soon as I could. I had a job since I was eleven and some of my first employers were two fine restaurants.

I was just a dishwasher, bus boy, bar back, stock boy and even did plenty of prep work but I spent many hours around some great chefs. Barely a teenager and a hard worker, the chefs always took pity on me and made sure I ate well.

Only 12, 13 and 14 years old and I’m eating fois gras, duck confit, lobster, escargot, Beef Wellington, Baked Alaska and some of the finest steaks. It’s weird after all this time I still remember stuffing down those great meals while sitting on a side turned glass rack and wearing a filthy apron and even filthier Bata Bullets.  

Those kindly chefs turned me into a foodie for life and darn good cook if I do say so myself. I still remember those chefs almost 40 years later! Thank you for your kindness Chef Joseph, Chef Eddie and Chef Mon.  
Joined Mar 9, 2010
My Mom made amazing bread, cooked lavish meals, entertained and baked her butt off.  Her pastry was to DIE for, she was famous for her irresistible pie crust. I loved to watch her, she was in her element but never once helped beyond eating half the batter or messing with the icing and decorations or eating the bread before it cooled. I was the pouncer, the recipient of her bounty. When I got married and had a child it dawned on me I had to feed these people real food. And casseroles and mac n cheese weren't going to cut it. I missed eating GOOD food and had taken it for granted. Because I spent so much time in the kitchen watching Mom I wasn't intimidated just at a loss. Mom wasn't there to ask. I absorbed as much as I could watching chefs like Lydia and Biba and buying cookbooks to read. Pol Martin and Julia Child were responsible for the first meals from my kitchen. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was and how well everything turned out. The feedback was wonderful and I found that I loved not just feeding people but the work involved in shopping, planning and executing a big meal. The more complicated or seemingly intimidating, the bigger the rush. It is deeply satisfying.
Joined Dec 20, 2008
First there are some interesting stories, especially Venom and Just Jim.

A home cook.
My Mom was an excellent cook, she was a waitress at a top restaurant in the late 40s in San Francisco,  and then waitress later in Modesto at different restaurants, she knew how food should taste.  However she worked nights and Dad cooked mostly.  I will never forget Dad making a mushroom potato meatball dish, which was very different from anything else he cooked, I could see how happy he was with how it turned out, and it dawned on me he had been thinking about making that dish before he started the prep.  In college 4 of us shared an apartment, each week someone else was responsible for meals on set nights.  I got the idea of trying to do different cuisine styles for my week, so one week it was Chinese, next Mexican, etc.  So I got my willingness to experiment from Dad and a sense of what tastes good from Mom.  Cooking BBQ  about 10 years ago and Smoking meat about 4 or 5 years ago, reignited my food passion.  Of course it doesn't hurt to have people who eat your food give encouraging feedback.
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Staff member
Joined Oct 5, 2001
 When I was a kid (13) my sister and I both worked as busboys at our aunt and uncle's restaurant (Italian family style). Later we both worked as busboys at our other uncle's restaurant a Mexican restaurant and I even worked as the dishwasher there. Only did that once and told myself I would never wash dishes again. Later in high school my Uncle with the family style Italian restaurant opened another restaurant and I decided to try cooking on the line and I enjoyed it. If I remember that far back I was a junior / senior when I cooked there and gained some good experience. 

I was never very good academically and scored so low on my SAT's that I just could not get into any decent schools. I went to Bible College for one year to study the bible and it was there that I decided I would go to culinary school. I did not really seem cut out academically to go to law school or become a doctor and I enjoyed cooking and working the line so culinary school seemed like a good choice. I came back home and started working for a real chef at a local restaurant and also taking some cooking classes at a local community college. About year or so later I was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America. 
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Joined Mar 13, 2010
Interesting to read some of your stories.

At age 10 I moved in with my dad, who was single and worked in the automobile business from 9am till 9-10pm pretty much everyday except Sunday. My sisters lived with my mother, so I was basically an "only child" from age 10+ and had to quickly learn to be independent. So I would play sports after school but usually be done by about 5pm and be hungry and cook for myself. 

So.. I love to eat, love food so one of the best discoveries of my life at that age was the food network! I would sit in the living room and watch it allll day and night. Some of my favorites were the original Iron Chef (only spoke japanese) with terrible translators, Two Fat Ladies, Julia Childs, The essence of Emeril, Molto Mario, etc...  And eventually I would just start making stuff I seen them make. By time I was about 14 my dad would come home to unbelievable meals everynight, I was like his personal chef lol.

After a few years of community college I was planning on transfering to JWu where I live in Providence, RI, but got involved with the automobile business and started making too much $$ to quit it for school. That was about 5 years ago. I don't know if I'll ever get the opportunity to pursue my passion for cooking, but hopefully one day.
Joined Aug 21, 2009
I loved the two fat ladies on FN.. I miss the shows of the old days onthat network.. now it seems to be more showmanship than cooking on that station...
Joined Jan 9, 2008
When I was about five I 'baptised' myself into the cooking world by dropping a pot of bubbling oatmeal porridge all over my feet. 

 Determined not to be ever awakened by my blood curdling screams again, my mother started to teach me the ways of the kitchen.  She said that I was always fasciated with cooking and it was no surprise when I tried to cook breakfast on my own that fateful morning.

  So I remeber my first real technical lesson: Breakfast... fried eggs, toast, bacon and...oatmeal porridge.  The flipping of the eggs really stuck in my head as I remember absolutely butchering them and remember being determined to master the art of flipping.  32 years later I can safely say that first lesson has been well developed along with many others.

Thanks mom.. 

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Joined Oct 28, 2008
This is going to sound ridiculously cliched, but I swear it is the God-honest truth. It was out of necessity. I was living in the Rockies on my savings, snowboarding everyday and drinking every night. At the end of the season I had run out of money and a friend told me he could probably get me a job in the kitchen he was working in. I ended up washing dishes, cooking and plating desserts and doing general prep. I loved it. It was unlike anything I had previously experienced. (I had only worked office jobs up until then.) My decision was solidified when the breakfast chef told me he thought I would make an amazing chef with time. I mean and I sort of like food as well. ;)
Joined Mar 2, 2009
Mine was out of necessity also.   At age 9, my mom got the German Measles and as my grandparents had never had them could not come in the house.   My dad worked two jobs so someone had to cook and I was taught from my mom's bedside.   I made roast beef, mashed potatoes, spaghetti sauce (I would have written "sauce" or "gravy" but most of you wouldn't know unless you're Italian and from NYC) and a host of other dishes..   I always cooked a little after that.

However, about 6 years ago, after a trip to Italy, my tastes and talents took a major leap.   I got creative in the kitchen trying out all the new combinations I'd tasted!!   Now, my friends and family look forward to my meals and cooking; so much so, that I have two friends who are chefs and restaurant owners that I'm missing my calling.   Well, at 59, I'm not starting on a new career but playing at the local Italian ristorante may soon become a reality!

Great thread by the way...
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