What to do with my career, suggestions welcome.

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by greasechef, May 20, 2006.

  1. Take the money, open a bakery/ coffee shop.

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  2. Let the wife support you, you've earned that at least.

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  3. Go back to school, the piece of paper is worth it.

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  4. Stop whining and work at a family restaurant until you figure it out on your own.

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  5. Sell the house and move somewhere that isn't Northern Vermont!

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  1. greasechef

    greasechef

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    For the first time in my culinary career, I haven't got a clue what to do next. Like most people who have been in the biz for a while, I'm able to name about 50 places that I've worked if you include the odd job where I worked a few hours and then saw the rancid raw chicken dripping into the fresh Romaine.

    So, over 15 years I've worked everywhere from diners to swank fine dining, and over the past five years I was the chef at a nicer place near Cape Cod, and more recently a dumpy diner that I leased in Vermont.

    Due to Vermont not getting any snow to speak of this past winter, I decided to walk away from the money losing restaurant that I had. Now I own a house in the a** end of nowhere Vermont, have a 17 month old son, and not a whole lot of cash.

    Without a kid, house or wife, I'd either work for Haliburton for $80k in Afganistan, or hop in the car and just drive somewhere nice just before the busy season hit and find a gig there. (That's how I gt my first job on Cape Cod)

    Lately I've been thinking that going to Culinary School might not be a bad idea. Specifically I've considered going to NECI in Vt to take their Associate Pastry program. I can already make laminated dough, and am not sure if I will walk away with much more than a piece of paper. (It may give me some ispiration being around foodies again though.)

    One thing that has bothered me lately is that I remember making beautiful plates a few years back when I worked in fine dining, but have since completely lost my touch. Doing 400+ covers/day working solo as a breakfast cook will do that to you.

    That all said, if you had zero inspiration, a house, kid and wife, and a solid resume, what would you do?

    Oh, and I've been offered $40-50k to open a bakery if I want a silent 50/50 partner. Arghhh!!!
     
  2. andrew563

    andrew563

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    Having the 17 month old child does limit your options a bit. Not that being a dad is a bad thing. If you can live on the bakery gig, I would do that. At least until your child is older and your wife can start working.
     
  3. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    Maybe those aren't all your options.
    How about one from column A and one from Column B.......

    Sounds trite but do what turns you on. 10 years ago I had to get back into the work force after 15 year hiatus and make decent money. There were NO reserves and I had 3 young sons. But most importantly I refused to work in something I did not love. Personal Cheffing had not really made it to STL by that time, when I started out I sat down and made a list of what was important to me.

    school hours
    good money
    flex time if my kids were out of school
    creatively cook with good ingredients that made me thrilled to go to work.
    not much outlay
    essentially be my own boss (clients were but I defined the arrangement)

    From that others things of interest came......
    cooking in the woods for a wild mushroom group....shiitake risottto for 200 on camping stove and various other projects for 4 years...just because it was fun.

    Program chair for culinary professionals to learn how to work events and play with other foodies

    class in baking at a Community College....did not really learn much, but at the time it was a good place to be at 7am once a week.

    Founded and run a farmer's market, ran events with restaurants/farmers, developed school programs for farmers/chefs/rds using sustainable methods.

    Started catering for several hundred

    culinary stage directing

    teaching cooking classes, camps, stage work

    All are food related, all were interesting to me, all used different skill sets.....

    You can define yourself and what you do for income. You can do it and raise a family....and be an active part in that family.
     
  4. greasechef

    greasechef

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    Thanks, Shroomgirl, sound like good advice. I know that the answer is right there in front of me, too close to get the big picture.

    I moved to Vermont when I closed a software company that I owned in Montreal. I had a SEVERE case of burnout and I just needed to spend some time on the side of a mountain somewhere. My wife and I chose this area because we could afford to buy, and it looked like real estate prices were ready to jump. Flash ahead a couple of months and my wife is pregnant, now the cabin on the side of a mountain is not sufficient, so my inlaws buy a bigger house nearby and we pay them to live in it.

    Now, just about two years after the initial move, we are selling the cabin for a tidy proifit. (Closing on June 16th) After taxes are paid, and debts from my restaurant are paid, we will hopefully still have $20k in cash. Frankly, not a bad place to be in.

    Right now my wife waits tables at night and a nicer place about an hour's drive away. We met working in a restaurant, but now she can't stand the biz anymore. Me, I am a lifer who will always continue to keep coming back to food, even if I decide to do something else for a while.

    Back to your post, you raise a question that I should have been asking myself, the question that got me into the biz to begin with. Go back almost 20 years ago and I could not answer the question, "What do I want to be?" When I instead asked, "What will make me happy?" the answer was obvious, cook.

    Now that I know a little about cooking, I'd like to start working with people who love food, not cooks that just do it to pay the bills. I've been there before, though it was an easy place to get to as a single guy who owned little more than a bunch of knives and an ugly teal green Ford Escort Wagon.

    Thanks! Today I'll concentrate on getting back to that place. It's obvious why so few chefs have a successful career and a healthy family life. It's a tough balancing act.
     
  5. cakerookie

    cakerookie

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    Granted I am not suppose to post here but GC sounds like you have quite a background. Ever thought about teaching? May not be the lucrative career you are looking for right now but its money coming in. You have expereince in opening restaurants put that to use offer your services as a consultant to others that are opening restaurants or having problems with restaurant related business. Think about what you are best at. Use it to your advantage.

    Best Regards Cakerookie...
     
  6. greasechef

    greasechef

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    Spoke to my wife today about finding a seasonal gig somewhere, anywhere. Long and short of it is that she's fine with the idea of moving to ...???... for a couple of months and letting me work a heavy schedule while she watches the boy. We would at least see each other at night, and on my odd day off.

    Oh, her stiulation is that I clear at least $4000/ month for the effort.

    It would be easy to make the money on Nantucket, but good luck finding a place to live. Right now I am surfing around looking for a good spot to make some $$$, and also have a place to live.

    Let's make it trickier, toss a couple of dogs into the picture to make accomodation harder. :D

    Maybe the Yukon? Plenty of space there, and pay might be OK too.

    Thoughts? Anybody know a seasonal place?
     
  7. cakerookie

    cakerookie

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    Just an idea.What about Marthas Vineyard?

    Best Regards Cakerookie...

    You might try this link www.chefjobsnetwork.com I have others if you want them..
     
  8. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    personal cheffing, daytime hours....creative as you wanna get, good money. Working 7-9 hour days, 5 days a week you can easily make what you desired....supposedly we're not supposed to talk specific money on the site, something about price fixing.
     
  9. greasechef

    greasechef

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    Right now I am looking at www.chefjobsnetwork.com, thanks CakeRookie, and have just posted a resume online at Monster.

    Thanks for the bits of advice, I knew that I wasn't far off, but I just could see where I was going. Now I know that I really must get away from slinging hash to make a buck, and back into real food with other people who also love food.

    As for the private chef thing, I think that I should get back into the nicer end of food for a while before I even consider that. I have cracked and flipped thousands and thousands of eggs in the last couple years, and not even been in the same room as a rack of lamb, fois gras, or aged balsamic. As for morels, I have even stopped dreaming of them.

    At my next job I will not have to say, "Fries or mash with that? It isn't written on your ticket!"
     
  10. cakerookie

    cakerookie

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