What to do?

Joined Jul 31, 2000
I had a great interview today with The Center for Culinary Arts in Cromwell CT. They are opening a brand new campus about 15 minutes from where I live and they got my name through a head hunter.

Here's the deal. 4 day work week (Double on Wed) Fri/Sat & Sundays off.

4 weeks paid vacation from the get go,The College follows all University vacation schedules.

Tha Campus is beautiful,with new state of the art kitchens and equipment. I would teach all phases of culinary arts from classic French to modern American and everything that falls between.
HACCP,Serve Safe, Food History,Labor and food costs etc.

Heres the down side. A very large pay cut......I have to be able to pay the bills and support my family,Maybe I can work a nice part time gig.

The school does some catering in which the chef gets a flat rate of $300,that could help,and maybe some private catering?

I just don't know what to do. The job is great and is one of my goals in my career.

Joined Aug 29, 2000
CC, it all comes down to time or money, right? I know you would be a wonderful teacher, because you already are: here, on this site. Having met you, I think you would have just the right touch. :chef:

That said, you have legitimate concerns about college savings and !GASP! :eek: retirement.

Is there a compelling reason to leave your current gig?
Joined Aug 11, 2000
What does Jill think? This was a goal of yours....private parties, catering are not sure income....I just had this conversation about summer camp I'm not making near what my hourly rate is and yet it is important for me to do every year. I turn on a new generation of eaters to local foods and creative cooking skills. It is 2 weeks a year, out of it comes a sense of satisfaction and there is an enormous amount of writing material for the weekly e-mail and newsletters I have to expound upon shtuff every week....are you not happy where you are? $300 is nothing for a catering job. There may be a way to use their equipment for private gigs if that is negioated into your contract.
There are books in you too....and I'd love to have a signing at the market.....!!!! ... do you get to play with the good shtuff? I'm the board of a local culinary community college basic basic basic....will you get to teach the advanced courses that thrill you?
Joined Oct 28, 1999
You know I just jumped into teaching. For me, there was no question about which path to follow. It was and continues to be everything I want in a career. Fortunately, the money issue was not a factor. However, to make sure this was 100% what I wanted to do, I broke out the "pros and cons" list and spent an evening w/my wife discussing my current position and my prospective position.
We concluded that family time was the top priority. Which position allowed me the most quality time at home? Secondly, in which position would I most likely grow? Third, was the money; certainly there is never enough, but how much was absolutely necessary to do what is needed?
From there, it really was 'looking at the facts'. So, coming from somebody that has just made the transition, I won't even suggest what career you should elect. I will, however, suggest you prioritize then weigh the ups and downs. And if the salary is the most important aspect, then there is no denying the fact - it is what it is. And as 'shroom stated, I wouldn't bank on extra gigs or catering.
All the best in your decision making process,


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
You can do a lot with three days off.

1) Work on getting your CMC :)

2) Spend time with family

3) (see 2)

4) (see 2)

5) Go fishing :)

6) Collect medals at culinary competition

A few years a ago my wife and I decided to become a single income family. (well, 1+1/2, but she does make a healthy living for the three of us). We went from eating out 4-5 times a week to once a week to about once a week. We go to the gym together now and spend weekends on the lake or looking at art. Trading income for free time is the best thing we ever did for ourselves and we don't regret it one bit.

Joined Oct 13, 2001
cape , hey amigo , so glad to hear that you have these options in life . All I know about you is from your several thousand posts on cheftalk but I feel a kindred spirit between us . You do know that you have books to write someday don't you ? As far as the job, well kuan put it so much into perspective . Quality of life and enjoying what you do at work is a major part of that . The time spent with the family is priceless . Also I think the gratification you would recieve from teaching would bless your life and be a helpfull stepping stone into the world of an author of cookbooks .
When I was younger I chased the dollar , but now that I am an old man of 43 I live for quality of this life . If I can make a difference and do good , well then there is no questions for me .
Whatever you do you shall always be our friend . Keep the knowledge flowing B . Doug...................................
Joined May 14, 1999
Take the job! You'll be grooming tomorrow's culinarians, *AND* get to spend more time with your family. Like Visa says, both contributions are "priceless".

Besides, we can't take it with us, right? Even at the age of 45, I recall my childhood instructors. Those ghosts of inspiration have been with me forever. Like them, you'll have the opportunity to make a difference in someone's life.

Besides, consider how you'll feel if you turn this gig down? How will you feel one year, or five years from now?

Can you afford to not do this?

Joined Nov 29, 2001
Wow. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. Choosing to take a lesser paying job (no matter what kind of dream it satisfies) takes place while you're earning the higher salary. Bear that in mind. Sit down with pen and paper (or spreadsheet) and do some real figuring. If the pay will not realistically keep your family afloat at least you'll have a true picture of what life would be like at that salary range.

Financial aspects of any job make up a larger percentage of the decision to take that job when you have a family.
Joined Mar 6, 2001
Wow, this is exciting. I can't add any advice, but I'm sure either way- life will always hold good options for someone like you.
Joined Jul 3, 2002
Dear B,

It sounds like a wonderful opportunity! And, I join the others saying you'd obviously make an inspired teacher. But I understand your hesitation when it comes to money. Here's a couple of suggestions:

1. Are there retirement benefits with the new job? Pensions, etc? Find out exactly what they are.
2. Try to find out what your adjusted Social Security benefits will be.
3. Then take the numbers, along with your adjusted salary info to an investment person or an accountent who can run the numbers. He/she should be able to calculate what you will have in retirement as well as what you can do about living on your new salary. They are professionals and can see things most of us can't.
--I don't know how old you are, but I'm 52 and pensions and stuff like that never crossed my mind until recently :eek: . Luckily, we have people who did numbers for us when I needed to cut back on my work schedule. We'd love the extra money, but it wasn't worth what it was doing to my health. And although retirement won't be quite as "comfortable," we'll be able to do it.
4. I don't have children and I know most parents worry a lot about saving money for their child's education. However, if given the choice between more time with Dad and a free ride through college, I'd choose time with Dad. Just my opinion.

Be sure to keep us posted!
Joined Nov 20, 2000
While I envy the opportunity, I don't envy the choice. I offer no suggestions just a couple of thoughts. Danny Wegman recently said to me during a somewhat similar conversation "you really have to follow your passions in life". Coming from someone with plenty of $$$ it means a little less to the rest of us, however the point is well taken.
You might be surprised at how well you can get along when forced to. We seem to adapt to whatever level we're at. Cold hard facts of course if you can't afford something, you simply can't afford it. Chiffonade said it well, figure it out accurately. At a place like "The Center for Culinary Arts" there could be room for advancement too. Not to mention the potential exposure you could receive.
I may have to make a similar decision soon myself so all I can offer you is my thoughts and support.
You know I wish you all the best in the world. If things don't work out, I do have a spare room I could squeeze you into ;)
Good luck I'm pulling for you.
Joined Nov 20, 2000
By the way with your knowledge and experience Cromwell is teeming with money perhaps with the extra time you could start a consulting business. Be it professonals, restaurants or the average (wealthy) cook. Perhaps team or just be on a list of potential advisors up with a law firm and or a bank that specializes in new business start ups. Just a thought.
Joined Jul 2, 2001
Brad, As you already have many great suggestions as how to approach your problem I will offer only a couple of observations

1. This is something that you really want to Do.
2. The amount of time you'll be able to spend w/ your kids is priceless.
3. If I remember right you were off for over 6 months and while things were tight I'm sure you made it. Lifestyles are pretty easy to change if you want to.
4. To provide extra income you could start a catering company for which you could pick a chose the parties you want to take(Although most don't stop w/ that and it ends up taking up more of their time).
5. Taking another job on top of the school would elinate alot of the benefits that the school offers.
6. A job that allows you the opportunity to follow your dream is an awesome thing.

Good Luck in your quest for the right answer. Mike
Joined Jul 31, 2000

I can't thank you all enough for your thought provoking advice.

You know, I just got home from a day at the CIA in Hyde Park.

Went for lunch at The American Bounty and had a back of the house tour (my boss is an Alumni). Seeing all the students buzzing around,the activities,the food the classes really gave me a great feeling. Watching the students in Pastry Arts learning how to make doughs or cake decorating,sugar work. Or those folks in The Cuisines of Europe or Asia. Just a sense of learning going on all over the place. Two "Young" students toured us, 1 was in the Pastry arts program and the other in the Savoury side.

Both we're full of youthful energy and seemed to really be having fun. I would love to harness that positive energy and help develope it into a tangable culinarian.

Now of course the CCA is not J&W or CIA,but it is really devoted to our art and I see it as an oppurtunity to take my 24 years of BS&tears and pass it down.

Now on the flip side, To answer Mezz question, I really do love my job.It's a big challange and I am appreciated more now then ever before. My boss (who is a few years younger than I) is a good guy to work for and allows me the freedom to operate my properties without being micro-managed, (this is a nice thing,believe me)I have created a positive-solid relationship with my peers and associates and see great things down the line. However,i'm here and there all the time.

I remember last year having dinner with Arno Schmit ( Used to be Exec Chef at the Waldorf) He told me," If you teach you'll only make x amount of $,but the perks are excellent) Well, I have till Wed to make up my mind.

Thanks agian.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
Your diners' loss would be the next generation of chefs' gain!!! You would be a tremendous asset to any culinary program. Much luck with your decision.


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
Some other questions to consider.

Do you like the school's education philosophy?

How many students are in each class? Is that number set or will they just get more crowded?

What are the admission standards. Do you agree with them?

How much class room control do you expect? How much do they allow?

Do you have to use the books they want or do you get to pick the one you use. Does that matter to you?

Which courses do you get to teach. Are you happy with those.

What advancement opportunities are there?

Depending on the course, how much out of class time will you be putting in with student consultation hours and paper work, tests, reviews and such? How much prep time do you need for a days classes. You may well not have as much free time as you supposed

How are the facilities? What's their maintenance and upgrade policy like?

Just some thoughts.

Joined Mar 4, 2000
Brad, if I have learned anything about you in the last four years, it's that you NEED to teach. In the next 6 days, as you roll numbers around in your head, I hope that you can find a way to make it work. I'm sure that the decision isn't any easier with the fact that you enjoy where you currently work, but I believe if you follow your dream, you will feel fulfilled.

I wonder, as much as you like your current position, whether or not you are fulfilled.

--If you are, then why move? But it seems that the conflict arises because you may enjoy your work, but possibly don't find it gratifying to your soul.

--If you aren't fulfilled, then it's worth a try, if you can make extra cash elsewhere!!

And imagine the commute!!!

Joined Nov 21, 2001
dear cc,
Just a thought. Would the school allow you to teach part time? to see if you would really like it? perhaps one class the first semester? something you could work into your schedule?
Joined May 26, 2001
Dear Brad,

Right now you are using your vast knowledge and skills to improve the lives of people nearing the end of theirs. That is highly commendable; no, it's better than that, it's rewarding those who surely deserve to be rewarded.

At the school, you would be passing along that knowledge to people starting out in life, people who could take your dedication and passion and spread it to many others over many years. The ripple effect could be very, very wide among both cooks and diners.

Doesn't make the decision any easier, though. :(

Whatever you decide (with Jill's and the girls' and your folks' and your accountant's help ;) ), everything will work out in the end.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
From my friends at the culinary program here, I hear that the politics are horrendous. the buyiing policies are run through hoops, so buying local is next to impossible. The past administration was in a battle over a sexual harssment claim. This is a public school though not privately owned.It may behoove you to talk to someone that works there over a Kettle one or two and get the inside skinny. Phil's questions are relavent to teaching , it's not fun if you gotta follow a crappy curriculum and are stuck teaching remedial English....I've put in 20 + hours already develping and lining up speakers, recipes, working with staff etc for this 30 hour Culinary Intensive Camp. One of the perks and probably the only reason I work there every Year is that they give me free range to develop a camp and the supplies are up to me. Pay stinks, but the creative outlet and the fact that I think the kids really get a foothold on where their food comes from as well as trying different things and learning to cook by using their senses. I also have their staff as resources, this is a non-profit Contemporary Arts Program that has photographers, artists that can put together books, mixed media people etc... so I'm able to get expertise from a wide range of specialities...we're doing a cookbook to go along with camp.The kid's picture will be blown up and laminated on the cover. Consulting is paying the rent while I get my teaching gig in...There is substantial money in telling people what you know and they don't much of it would appear to be common sense but if you'd not been doing it for years or are not in the cooking industry it is sellable. Work is not work if you love it. I don't know about you but I figure we're similar in needing changing challenges, can this gig do it for you?

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