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is catering a good career????

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Heyyy there, well let's see- i'm 15 years old....and looove to cook. i decided i wanted to go to culinary school a couple years ago and make cooking my life. i've read that it's a tough life- and i haven't flinched a bit. You know, I tell my dad and he goes "a chef?? do you know they have bad hours and everything??" but it doesn't matter, I love cooking and that's the end of it. So my mom and sister thought of me become a catering chef....i thought it was a great idea, especially since I live in Ct, and there's no law that i couldn't work at home. (although i might be mistaken???) Of course- i have a few years ahead of me, going to culinary school and stuff, that i might find something new to be, rather than caterer....but for now, if anyone could please help me out, with stories, reccomendations, etc...i'd really appreciate it. I am soo happy i found this site- it's my first post, and it feels so cool to be able to communicate with really good chefs! thanks!!! :)
"This magic moment, while your lips are close to mine, Will last forever, Forever till the end of time"



"Dream as if you'll live f o r e v e r, Live as if you'll die today"
-James Deanand...."Dream as if you'll eat f o r e v e r, Eat as if you'll die today"=D=D
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"This magic moment, while your lips are close to mine, Will last forever, Forever till the end of time"



"Dream as if you'll live f o r e v e r, Live as if you'll die today"
-James Deanand...."Dream as if you'll eat f o r e v e r, Eat as if you'll die today"=D=D
Reply
post #2 of 13
Welcome Karen!
There are many different "food careers" that don't have bad hours nor tax your body.....I'm sure someone will read this and hook up the past threads that relate to various food jobs.

When I was a teenager I shopped and cooked for my family, even catered some for my mom's clients. Cooked for the weekly french club bake sale and hung out in my boyfriend's family's deli.....as well as playing in the kitchen.

Now's a great time for you to experiment with foods that interest you. My first big solo dish was a lemon souffle, I was 11 it was out of Time-Life French cookbook......was not a hit but it was fun making and learning.
The more you expand your palate....by trying different varieties of fruits and veg etc....., by eating in ethnic restaurants, by cooking dishes your not used to making, by visiting farmer's markets....the better versed you'll be down the road.

Catering is what you make it, as with any business.....it generally involves cooking and then moving the food to a location. That's what differentiates it from a restaurant where the food is served on site.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
thank you for replying!!!!!! :)
"This magic moment, while your lips are close to mine, Will last forever, Forever till the end of time"



"Dream as if you'll live f o r e v e r, Live as if you'll die today"
-James Deanand...."Dream as if you'll eat f o r e v e r, Eat as if you'll die today"=D=D
Reply
"This magic moment, while your lips are close to mine, Will last forever, Forever till the end of time"



"Dream as if you'll live f o r e v e r, Live as if you'll die today"
-James Deanand...."Dream as if you'll eat f o r e v e r, Eat as if you'll die today"=D=D
Reply
post #4 of 13
Hi, Karen. You came to the right place! :D And you already live in the right place, because our own cape chef teaches at a school in Connecticut -- and he knows EVERYTHING! (Well, we all think so; he's too modest to admit it.)

Anyway, as Shroom said, there are many careers in food. Catering is just one. Others include:
  • Cooking in restaurants*
  • Cooking in private clubs, such as country clubs
  • Cooking in institutions, such as schools or hospitals
  • Cooking in hotels
  • Cooking in a retail store (take out)
  • Cooking for a food manufacturer (small business)
  • Cooking for just one family (private chef)
  • Cooking for several families each week (personal chef)
  • Working in a test kitchen for a magazine or newspaper
  • Working as an independent recipe developer/tester
  • Working as a recipe developer for a food corporation
  • Managing a kitchen -- not necessarily cooking, but doing the purchasing, inventory, training, etc.*
  • Writing about food -- cookbooks, food articles, restaurant reviews, books on food topics
  • Editing books and articles about food*
  • Teaching at a cooking school, secondary school or college culinary program, or on your own
  • Food scientist -- analyzing food products for a manufacturer; or creating new uses for food products
  • Nutritionist -- advising people on the right foods that they need
  • Dietician -- making sure that the food served supplies the needs of the people eating it (such as hospital patients or students)
  • Working in public relations or advertising, with food-related clients
  • Purchasing for a food retailer
  • Purchasing for a restaurant or restaurant chain
  • Retail food store management
  • Selling food products or equipment for a manufacturer, wholesaler, or distributor
  • Food styling for photographers
  • Food photography or illustration
  • Oh, and for catering: doing it all on your own, cooking for a small company, cooking for a big company, and
  • Catering sales and management*
  • All sorts of baking and pastry jobs just like all the others above

* These are all things I've done since I finished culinary school 10 years ago.

And there are many, many more possiblities than this list! Have a look at the Chef's Discussion and Culinary School \ Culinary Students forums here, and you'll find discussions of lots of them -- how you get into it, what you need to learn and where you need to learn it.

Remember too that if you have some other interest, you can find a way to combine it with food -- such as food photography or food styling if you're good at art, or nutrition/dietetics/food science if you like science. Even history -- there is such a thing as a food historian, who looks at what people used to eat. And there are culinary anthropologists and culinary sociologists, who study what and why people eat what they do, any where in the world. Food is a pretty exciting thing to work with -- the possiblities are almost endless! :D

ChefTalk is a good place to find people who do a lot of those jobs and ask them about what it's like. Welcome!
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #5 of 13
thanks Suzanne! I hope it wasn't too time consuming regurgitating that info....seems like it's always topical. With each new batch of incoming most are looking for their way....some may not even realize it.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #6 of 13
Karen -

As pointed out so well above there are a million opportunities. At this point if I was you I would not focus too much what type of chef you will be, because the fact is you really cannot even begin to guess. I would cook. Cook a lot. Cook where ever, when ever and for who ever you can. When I was thirteen I started washing dishes at a local golf club since them I have:

  • Cooked in several different types of restaurants
  • Worked for a culinary school
  • Done several television appearances
  • Sold food wholesale
  • Done in home catering
  • Worked as a food stylist
  • Ran two kitchens
  • Written about a couple dozen menus
  • Taught food safety
  • And am currently a corporate chef

On this web site you will read lots of interesting facts that can make the industry seem scary and dangerous. Which it can be. The hours can suck. The people are nuts. The employers can be challenging and so much more. But the reality is the one thing that all of the professionals here have in common is a complete passion for the industry. Not just the food, but the insane hours, the fun friends and great stories. You can make a good living, work reasonable hours and keep you nose clean if that is your goal. The trap many fall in to is that you will be working in a very social environment and if the line between work and social get too blurred it can me a slippery slope. Good luck and keep reading and posting. This is a great place to touch base with a lot of people with a lot of different backgrounds.
Chef Bob


"Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch?" ~ Orsen Wells (1915-1985)
http://www.frappr.com/cheftalkcafe
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Chef Bob


"Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch?" ~ Orsen Wells (1915-1985)
http://www.frappr.com/cheftalkcafe
Reply
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
WOW! you guys are all awesome- thank you! haha yeah, I guess I'm jumping a little ahead of myself. ;) after reading all the things you can do...I'm probably going to be switching my mind at least a billion times!!!! :crazy: I do know for a fact though, that I would want to cook professionally....in other words like..if I went to culinary school and learn so much about cooking and all of that, I wouldn't want to end up working at a school cooking lot's of frozen stuff...NO OFFENSE TO ANYONE!!!!! :) it's just, you know..everybodys different. and I could only see myself doing lots of cooking...and even more cooking. :chef: My uncle was talking to my brothers and sisters (i have 7) about what we wanted to be when we grew up...and i was all proud blurting out "CHEF" and he was like "hmmm well maybe you might want to be a dietition...." and I just kind of nodded being polite and "ohhh yeah that'd be cool!" But thankfully, my older sister was like "ohhh noo she wants to be a chef who cooks tons..." and i was like in my head "you bet your booty that's what i want to do...." :D

Since I'm only 15....it stinks b/c I want a job at a resturaunt..and you can only work on weekends usually...i be soo happy if i could work on weekdays, 'cause i'm homeschooled so it'd be perfect! but I'm going to try Lenny and Joes- b/c they're close by and they hire 15 year olds. if i can do the dishes, sweep the floor, whatever, I'd be sooo happy... and even though they're food is mostly fried and nothing particulary special, i just want to get in that kind of atmosphere!!!!!!! :bounce: haha, so hopefully. :)


and listen, i just wanted to thank all of you for writing, i saw the posts and i was like "woahhhh they wrote soo much!!!!!!!!" and it was very helpful!!!!! and more people who read this, you can add more you know!! *wink*

:):):):):):):):):):):)

ok now i'm hungry..:lips: and thirsty... :beer: (and that's soda btw) :lips:
"This magic moment, while your lips are close to mine, Will last forever, Forever till the end of time"



"Dream as if you'll live f o r e v e r, Live as if you'll die today"
-James Deanand...."Dream as if you'll eat f o r e v e r, Eat as if you'll die today"=D=D
Reply
"This magic moment, while your lips are close to mine, Will last forever, Forever till the end of time"



"Dream as if you'll live f o r e v e r, Live as if you'll die today"
-James Deanand...."Dream as if you'll eat f o r e v e r, Eat as if you'll die today"=D=D
Reply
post #8 of 13
Karen -- we're here to help! :D And I'm glad we did, even though we may have also made it harder for you now. :confused:

As Chef Bob did, you could start now and work just when you can and see what you like and how well you can do -- no need to jump in with both feet yet, before you learn much about the whole wide world out there. Even if it's just a fried-fish place, you'll see how a restaurant works, what it's like when it's slow and what it's like when it's really, really busy. :eek: And remember, you can be anything you want to be, if you work hard enough and learn all you can to make it happen. There's nothing wrong with being a dietician -- maybe later that will look like a good choice. But for now, for you, the sky's the limit! :bounce:

Finally -- so you know: some WOMEN chefs started when they were just kids, like Elka Gilmore and Traci DesJardins, who have had their own places. Others went all the way through college and more before they followed their dream and became chefs. There is no one right way to get there -- but if you really want to, you'll find the way that's right for you. :D
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #9 of 13
You know, you're 15. There's no better place than to start at home. Do the family meal once a week. Do the grocery shopping for that meal or do it for the whole family.

Catering is a business and it takes a totally different set of skills than cooking. You have to be proficient at both and most of all, driven to succeed. Of course it all depends on what you mean by success right? ;)

So start with the family meal. Seven siblings? That's like a small catering function right there!
post #10 of 13
Karen
You need to work in restaurants as much as you can; it's easy to say 'Yeah I know it's hard, that's OK', but it's MUCH harder than that.
Before I started working, everyone said the same to me. One said, "It's hard like carrying an elephant upstairs." Right. It's actually hard like carrying an elephant upstairs twice a day, once for each service. And then back down again because the customer wants it cooked a bit more. And then back down again because now they want the sauce on the side.
If you can get a gig somewhere dishwashing for a week, see how tired you are after working non-stop and if you still like it then. Two weeks if you can get it.
Man, there's days when I start my shifts thinking, "Cool, only 7 hours and then I can go to sleep again."

--

Chris Ward
 
http://eatsleepcookschool.wordpress.com - The true story of the year I spent learning how to be a professional cook at catering school in Avignon, Provence, while working as a dishwasher.
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--

Chris Ward
 
http://eatsleepcookschool.wordpress.com - The true story of the year I spent learning how to be a professional cook at catering school in Avignon, Provence, while working as a dishwasher.
Reply
post #11 of 13
Well Said Plongeur! Only one question, seven hour shifts? Your kidding right?!?!!?:confused:
Chef Bob


"Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch?" ~ Orsen Wells (1915-1985)
http://www.frappr.com/cheftalkcafe
Reply
Chef Bob


"Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch?" ~ Orsen Wells (1915-1985)
http://www.frappr.com/cheftalkcafe
Reply
post #12 of 13
A 'Normal' day for me would be start at 9 am, finish at 3pm (maybe 3.30 or 4 on a busy lunch and when we do lots of prep for a big evening), so 30 minutes to cycle home and then a shower and sleep until the evening shift, 6pm to about 11pm or midnight, depending on the crowd. We do special 'Soiree vignerons' once a month and NEVER finish before 1 am. Also on these nights we usually start the evening shift at 5pm to get all the prep done for the evening.
Anyone still wanna come and stage in our kitchen?

--

Chris Ward
 
http://eatsleepcookschool.wordpress.com - The true story of the year I spent learning how to be a professional cook at catering school in Avignon, Provence, while working as a dishwasher.
Reply

--

Chris Ward
 
http://eatsleepcookschool.wordpress.com - The true story of the year I spent learning how to be a professional cook at catering school in Avignon, Provence, while working as a dishwasher.
Reply
post #13 of 13

Right!

Well Suzanne u are awsum!!!!!!!!!! sorprendente!!!!!! espectacular! maravillosa! and u Plombeur very honest, unfortunately u are right!
I studied culinary arts, and i like it,,,,,but sometimes i think i love it more if i do it for my family or if i would do it for my own business.
I worked in a chinese restaurant 1 week cuz i only chopped chicken for 12 hours at day, im not kidding i just chopped chicken for fried rice,,,,,,,,i didnt move; just me and knive alone in a table.
After i worked in a Marriot,,,,,,,,i was there 4 months during my summer. It was crazy I worked for buffet,,, so we had to cook potatoes in marmitas, after mash them and make the common pure with yellow potatoes, and chop vegetables and more vegtables. I used to enter at 10 am and i finished at 1 am after midnight if I was lucky. At the beginning i wonder will i do that?????just me????? the cooks used to tell me i wouldnt last much time and I was a very calm down guy. After 1 month i was moving with my own legs. Yes after 1 month i didnt have social life,,,,,,i couldnt go to movies, to friend's birthday,,,no sundays for family, no beach, no discos,,,,,,,i didnt know if it was monday or tuesday or wednesday,,,,,and what's funny I had money but i didnt have time to spend it.
I like cooking but i dont know if i want it in that way. I like sciences a lot and nutrition , too. I'll taking an exam next Jume for studying In Spain food science (I wanted the USA, but universities are very very very expensive for my pocket). I will study 3 years nutrion and 2 years foodscience and ill get the bachelor. I like catering,,,,,,,mayeb cuz everytime i go to a wedding (rich people wedding) i say: omg,,,,this skewer are sooooo cold,,,,or what kind of quiche is this. Maybe im not a good cook but i learned about what is ok,, and i'm very demanding in food.
Maybe i'll be a nutritian, a chef research , or any career Suzanne wrote, but those are careers more givens in the USA, who knows.
Anyway, I think Spain should be great about food, and its so close to France and Italy, maybe i can work in a restaurant during summers and visit nice restaurants.
A big hug for everybody, thanks for being there, and now i have to stuy hours and hours of chemistry! hehe!ç

kidn regards

Gus
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