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Young student asking for career advice....

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
For those of you that have alot of experience in the food industry as executive chefs, F&B managers, chef instructors, or any high ranking positions, I would like to know if you could go back in time is there anything different you would do to get where your at now or even move up??? I.E. continue your education?? Does anyone here have a bachelor's or MBA degree in hotel and restaurant management, and how has it gave benefit to your career?? Also If I am looking to pursue a career as an executive chef, would a bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management stir me in that direction?? Or is that degree program meant more for other positions??? How did you start in the food service industry?
As of now I am currently attending culinary school at a local community college that is accredited by the ACF. I plan to get my Associates degree in culinary arts and I have maybe a year and a half or so until I fulfill all my required General education classes along with my culinary trainning to recieve my AS degree. After I do that I'm planning to go to the Collins School of hospitality management at Cal Poly Pomona to further my education and get a step ahead in the food service industry. I know you guys are saying that experience is needed but I am working full time as a cook at a pretty reputable establishment while going to school four days a week. At times it feels awkward to wear regular, casual clothes because I am in my chef's uniform so much :lol: .
What other high level positions are there in the industry besides executive chef and GM and stuff like that??
post #2 of 13
Thread Starter 
The only reason I didn't go to JW or cordon bleu school not only for financial reasons but I feel that ANY or every culinary school focuses more on cooking and only gives an intoduction on how to run a kitchen. I.E. club operations management, hotel/ resort rooms management, beverage management. In other words I feel hat you go to a culinary school to learn how to cook and produce fine food, but to learn how to manage and run an establishment succesfully you should go to school specifically for that major. Aree or disagree??
post #3 of 13
Start in the industrry at 18 rather than 43.
Though I have come a ong way in a short time, it's been tough, very tough, and I have missed out on some of the fun bits that the younger folks enjoy about this business.

Support your chef. I for some reason you can't, move on quickly until you find one you can.
post #4 of 13


Hi Rivitman,

You always appear to have some reasonable posts. Have read many of them.

Did you get into culinary at 43??? Reason I'm asking is because I'm 46 and just getting started.

Can you give me any advice of how to approach things in the culinary world at 40+ in terms of carreer?

You appear to have done very well in a short period of time if you started at 43. I am sure your insight would be of value to me.

post #5 of 13
Yes, I started at 43, after an aborted career in aerospace. Outsourcing, offshoring, and airbus.

Joe, all I can say is that I approached it like my life depended on it, and still do.
That is to say, I never missed school, never missed work, and always have my head into it.
You pretty much have to have the attitude "whatever it takes".
Get used to a little financial deprivation.
Yes, you will have to outwork, outcook, and outsmart your younger peers. Not by a little, but substantially.
But out of those three, work ethic is the trait most valued.

Every day. No letup. No quarter, and no prisoners.
Above all, no excuses.

Try to keep company with people that can either help you get ahead, or are interested in sharing knowledge.

Try to take care of your health.
Try not to go down mentally when things aren't going well.

That being said, I'm very tired, and I'm hoping next year will be a better one. Notice I didn't say easyer, just better. Becasue the actual work just isn't easy. But the circumstances under which you toil can make it seem easyer, therefore it has the same positive effect, offsetting all the bad.

So better circumstances (pay, working conditions, creative freedom, happy coworkers and customers, and more reasonable ownership and management) are my goals, not less actual work.

Is it all going to work out? Ask me again in a year or two for a firm answer. But if I didn't believe now, I wouldn't be doing it.

There are lots of smart people in this business, lots of strong ones. But there are equal numbers of dumb, weak and lazy. If you are good, you can and will get ahead by default, by simply being the last man standing. Not a great way to get ahead, but a way nevertheless.
I consider my biggest shortcoming to be my lack of political ability. I simply can't play in that arena, and it causes me trouble from time to time. I am cut and dried, no BS. A dose of smooth talk would help my cause I'm sure. But I just don't have the curse,,,er,,, gift.

Just remember that you have less time to establish yourself, and your career clock ticks faster that a twenty year old's.
post #6 of 13
If there is somthing I can say it would be, when your first get out of school... MOVE AROUND... change Restaurants or Kitchens every 1.5 or 2 years... In the beginning that is the best thing to do... I am 33 years old and only now have I found my "home" for now... and that is only because I have found a high ranking job in this hotel...

I went to school For my Bachelors in Culinary Arts and Associates in Hotel and Restaurant Management... and as much that I learned in school... there is only so much they can teach you... And dont take this the wrong way, go to school if you have the opprotunity, I would not have givin up my education in ar JW for anything... but they cant teach you everything... Only once you get into the "real world" kitchen will you get the real thing.
post #7 of 13
Not to Hijack the thread. But how was the Bachelors program at JW? I'm at the CIA right now and I don't want to continue on with our Bachelors, b/c it's crap. I'm considering Cornell's program and JWU's.
post #8 of 13
[quote=Rivitman]Yes, I started at 43,

Wow, good on you Rivitman!:chef: I was just thinking, the way I am going at the moment I will be dead before 43!:D :rolleyes:
Leading the global ban on cup and spoon measurements in recipes!
Leading the global ban on cup and spoon measurements in recipes!
post #9 of 13

Yes, the Bachelors program was incredible. I learned so much and the internships I did were awesome.. The classes are awesome... the Chef Instructors are awesome... and the atmosphere is awesome... I loved my time at JW...
post #10 of 13
Which campus did you attend?
post #11 of 13
Providence, RI
post #12 of 13
Thanks for input, Rivitman

It sure has been different working in a kitchen. It is hard work but for some reason I really like it and have a passion for it.

Yes, I am finding out that I do have to work harder and smarter than my younger counterparts. There's 4 or 5 young folks where I work at that are very good. It will be a challenge getting a step on them but I am gaining ground. I am finding that it is just what you said.

No excuses and no let up. I am starting to get calls when they have a no show so obviously I am making the impression that I am at least starting to become a go to guy.

The environment in very fast paced and its not for everyone. Since I have been at my current restaurant I find that there is a percentage of people that I have moved past already simply due to what you would term attrition. Last mand standing. Not crazy about winning by default to a degree but it has given me the opportunity to learn and develop my skills at an accellerated rate.

Much of what you're talking about is happening to me. Even though I may have lost a step in quickness through the years there is no one that will equal my work ethic.

I do think that there is something to be said for maturity, even in the kitchen. I do seem to handle the stress much better than most people I work with and I don't get rattled easily so that has helped.

Where I appear to be weak is that I don't always recognize situations as quickly as I should and I my awareness isn't what it should be at times. It appears that I am still learning to think like a cook. I don't appear to be catching on as quickly as I would like and at time this is frtustrating. I have my good and bad days but overall can't complain. I really love the job.

Thanks again, Rivitman

post #13 of 13
I have said for years that one should always back up this career with business courses. Although you did not mention Pastry Chefs in your question I will give my 2 cents anyway.
Personally I feel a business degree is more of a natural fit into food service then Restaurant management.
I have mentored many, and one of the most critical points of employment is knowing the value of a dollar which seems to be lacking.
There are many chefs that think the storeroom is this huge black hole where they can order things from. They don't have a clue where and how funds/products are alotted there. I could go on and on, just my 2 cents
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