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how long did it take you to make a living wage?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
ok now i understand that i have lived off of 800$ a month but over time
after culanay school i dont want to make 8-10 for ever.

how fast do people clime up the ladder,

chefs that make 40k-50k how long did it take for you to get there?

i know that evey one is different but i just would like some examples of how fast some people move up.
post #2 of 24
I personally haven't yet, but it all depends on you. The harder/faster/cleaner you work along with how talented and creative you are, the faster you move up.
post #3 of 24
culinary school is just like any other college settting you pay alot for a degree then you must get out and work your way up.

Some people are lucky and very talented and can get a good job right out of school but some are a little more mediocre or for one reason or another just dont get the BIG sweet deal right out of school so they have to work a bit harder.

In the end its all in how you apply yourself, and how much your willing to put in for the long haul.

I graduated culinary school in new york and immediately moved to texas and found a great job right off. one reason being that i was very specific on what i wanted from my employer. no less than 15 an hour and a 40 hour week with room to grow and learn every area of the job. I found someone who liked my initative on what i was looking for and they hired me. now in getting that job i had to take i little bit of a lower pay but in the end working at the facility i am has given me great oppurtunity to meet others in my business and has put me in an area of growth because now i do personal cheffing for some of the doctors i work with.

i am not the 'best' cook nor am i a very artistic person but i work hard and apply myself and that makes people like me so i get noticed more for my intuativeness and dedication to work ethic. I also use that to my advantage and it makes me look really good.

so in all this what im saying is its not always about being the best and getting the big job right out the box BUT if you apply yourself and put yourself out there, someone will notice you and give you the sweet deal.

hope this helps you out :)
post #4 of 24
And this is on what planet? You write that you're right out of a trade school, not very creative nor a great cook. You dictate that you only will work 40 hours a week and want $30K plus yearly to start.

But you took a little bit lower pay???

post #5 of 24
i worked in the restaurant industry for 10 yrs before going to culinary school and i hired myself out as a personal chef after school to get more experience.

what im saying is that i am not exactly FINE DINING material but what i can do i will do well and with a good attutude and a good work ethic i have been able to achieve alot in a short time.

and yes i asked for 15 but i got 13.75 an hour not bad considering.

i applied myself and was very straigtforward in what i wanted in an employer and the chef that hired me told me that he liked that about me so i take that as a sign that i did well.

so you see what im saying is im not the 'BEST' in the field BUT i am willing to give it all i got to get where i want to be in my career.
post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
there is no question with me if i will give it 100% im just wondering about every ones time line and how there doing.

my girlfriend has said she dosent want to suport me for the rest of my life. and im ok with doing OT and working very hard. i have been working in a kitchen for 5 years already and i love it.

and i know a lot of people dont do this for the money they do it because they love it. thats the same thing as me but i also need to suport a family after a while.

just wondering how long it take the average person to get to a decent wage
post #7 of 24
If you are "average" a "decent" wage may be inaccessable. You must be far above average to succeed. AngeliaB wrote that she was in the food industry for 10 years, went to culinary school, and took a job for $13.75 an hour.

About once a week, I treat myself to a 1/4 pound hot dog at Costco's fast food counter.(Shhhh...don't tell my wife, she'd kill me before the cholesterol does.) I like to chat with the young beauty who dishes up these delicacies. She's been there just over a year, heating hot dogs, Polish sausages, and pizza. I asked her in a joking moment if this paid better than McDonald's. She replied that she just got a raise to $12.00 an hour. Hmmm...ten years in the food industry + culinary school = $13.75; a year out of H.S., no training, grilling dogs and pizza = $12.00.

What's this about a decent wage?
post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
i understand that with unions like the one that costco has people can make that much very easily, that has nothing to do with growing in the industrey.i have been working in kitchnes for 5 years and am about to go off to culanary school this summer, im really excited.
post #9 of 24
I wish you great success. But never, ever settle on being average. Pick a specialty and be the best!
post #10 of 24
"my girlfriend has said she dosent want to suport me for the rest of my life. and im ok with doing OT and working very hard. i have been working in a kitchen for 5 years already and i love it."

Well,OT is not always available.When you're in the big,bad corporate world,chef is going to be telling you to get off the clock at 37.5 hours because his/her bonus can be based on how much OT they saved on that fiscal year.OT can be one or three times a year for a few precious days or weeks.
Who picks up the extra hours? The salaried [and exhausted] sous chefs.

Salary can bite you in the butt,too. They own you and your time at that point.
There are some weeks I make more than my pastry chef does simply because I am not locked-in to a specific amount per week, with unlimited hours.
70 hours a week with OT makes it worthwhile.70 hours at the same rate of pay if you worked a 20 hour week can make you incredibly frustrated!
Depends on who you're working for/with.I walked away from sous/partner position with 10% profit sharing and about $15,000 more than what I make now,but with about $15,000 worth of headaches and crap to put up with there.
Why? Because money isn't everything if you're not HAPPY.
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
post #11 of 24
Ah,if it were only that simple and easy! Not always.Some days,you can bust your butt and YOU are the only one who is going to pat yourself on the back.
I have plenty of extremely talented chef friends who could tell horror stories about being the only one in the kitchen who really put forth effort and did not get any recognition,money,etc.
Why? Because they weren't involved in the politics or refused to smooch the butt of an arrogant chef or they became the person who was just "expected" to be the best in the kitchen because they'd pick up the slack.
Sometimes rewards come,sometimes they don't.It depends on the situation.
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
post #12 of 24
that is my point right there. ok so im making 13.75 an hour but you missed something there in what i was saying... that is my base pay. i make an average of 16 an hour a day depending on the hours i choose to work.

is it the greatest job in the world?? no because i would probably choose to be in a restaurant if i could but yes it is the best job because im allowed to grow and try to things and come up with new dishes every day which i would probably not be allowed to do if i was in some ones restaurant.

am i in a top restaurant?? mm no

do i enjoy being around the people i work with?? yes

am i allowed to be creative in any way i choose? yes in fact my job is my own i set and do the area of the cafe how i choose i prepare all the desserts i choose to prepare as long as the chef see and tastes it and is ok with what im doing i am left alone in my area. i am not supervised or stood over to make sure that i am doing what they want me to do. I do what i want to do. If ther is something in the kitchen that we dont have but i want to use it to make some new dish then the chef is very willing to get it for me.

bottom line is this..

im happy i love my job i am not making huge sums of money but im happy and i love the food i get to work with every day. I AM DOING WHAT I LOVE. and to me that is worth more than all the money in the world :)
post #13 of 24
At some point, AngeliaB, you'll come to the realization that, yes, it's very important to enjoy and value what you do for your life's work, but it's significantly more important to make enough money to comfortably support a family; unless, of course, you don't plan on having one.
post #14 of 24
I realize that. That's the position me, another cook and a sous chef are in right now.
post #15 of 24
i live alone right now and i am very comfortable with what im making. And dont get me wrong i do not plan to stay at this job for the rest of my life, only for a solid year and a half maybe. I just moved to dallas and the cost of living is so cheap here that my earinings more than cover what i need for right now. Im just saying that i really enjoy the job i have at the moment because its allowing me to grow more into my cooking skills. :)
post #16 of 24
That's great, just so long as you view this as an educational opportunity. But keep in mind, once you start endlessly replicating the same products over and over, your growth process is running a distant last. Your boss will want your best signature product over and over, because it's profitable. Know when it's time to move on. Timing is very important to your success.
post #17 of 24
very very true
post #18 of 24
I'm sorry, but I can't keep reading posts by this Steve guy and not speak up. What a jerk. I'm unsure why he gets off on being the "expert" and telling people who are genuinely happy with their job and pay that they shouldn't be! Wow! Bottom line: being a chef/cook doesn't pay much. Do it if you love it. Stop defending yourself against the know-it-alls on this forum.
post #19 of 24
Please keep the direct insults to a minimum. And by minimum, I mean don't do it.
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
post #20 of 24
Living wage hmmmmmm. By comparison to my wife there was only one point of my career that we made the same money and that was just for a short time. By the end of my career and with what I am worth today she crushes the $hit outta me, and that's with somewhat equal levels of education and training. Guess I shoulda been an accountant.

So I would have to say it depends on what you consider living?

When I was a struggling line cook, living to me was making bills and having enough left for beers. Owning a home, raising a daughter, hobbies or saving for the future were not in my vocabulary. Yet I was happy for the most part. When I "gradiated to the third grade".... There just was never and never seems to be enough. It seems that my ambition and our needs go well beyond the scale. Then reality set in. I had to learn the job pays what it pays. Nothing more....but usually always less. So you make sacrifices. Also the/these job(s) are being fought for by more than just yourself. How's that supply and demand theory work? If anyone needs an example just look at the gas pump next time you fill up.

As someone just mentioned, these jobs don't pay much and brother they ain't kidding! I've said it before in other posts... In this business "Ya gotta Love it!". You're gonna work your butt off and for little pay, this is where the nobel part comes into view. So you end up doing the best you can, each and every day. What other reason is there for dragging yourself outta bed every day at the crack of dawn and then not returning home until it's dark, again. It's sure not the pay not to mention the glowing personallities of your co-workers and or bosses. Either you have to find your own triumphs and make the best of them or you're gonna end up with some form of co-dependancy. You learn to accept but not be complaicent

Acceptance doesn't mean that you roll over and take what the "Boss" deems as acceptable pay. This is wher the not being complaicent part kicks in. You still have do the job as best as you can and still put up a fight and hope that if ya don't get what ya ask for your efforts and actions will provide you proof in your favor. (NOT!)

Your boss is no different than you are or will be with the people under you. We all try to get as much as we can for what we pay. Funny this isn't just isolated to the workplace. It's the "bang for your buck" theory. We all want more for less.

Personally and just my opinion.... I'll pay more to get it right but I have my limits. As far as compensation or at least the expectation of such, things have gotten to the point of being ludicrious. Now I will yield to the fact that, in the restaurant industry, wages 20yrs ago were far better than they are today (relatively speaking) and this is a cry'n shame. Wish I could change it but I can't and the sad reality is, like I already said, the job pays what it pay's.

As a society we have an over inflated sense of personal worth. We all want to dictate our terms and make things worth more than they actually are. This is directed entirely at the "Club" (former CEO's, Home Depot for example, that recieve a $250,000,000.00 severence check) or those over-paid, trained circus performers (athletes, media, entertainment, etc...) we watch on any given weekend. They set the level of the bar and then scream "Bloody murder" when when you try to ask for just a fair share.

Looks like I've just taken the long way around with a detour on the soap box to say that a living wage seems to have become almost a subjective** concept.:rolleyes:

The old advice of "keeping the nose to the grindstone" isn't bad by any stretch. It'll just take a little longer than other methods. Anything work having is worth waiting for. Creates better understanding and ability to teach others.

**4 a (1) : peculiar to a particular individual : PERSONAL <subjective judgments> (2) : modified or affected by personal views, experience, or background c : arising out of or identified by means of one's perception of one's own states and processes
post #21 of 24
This may sound bad to the traditional, hard-working pros out there who busted their asses for $8/hr (or scarier, an 80-hour week on salary), but I think alot of it is how you market yourself.

Are you an intelligent, well-spoken, good-mannered and presentable person? If so, you'll get alot farther than you would without those skills.

Quite frankly, the Executive Chefs and others earning huge money (celebrity chefs, for example, or food critics) are rarely the absolute most talented chef out there. They're the ones who understand that a Chef is a businessman as well, not just an artist. If you value the traditional European way of being devoted entirely to your craft, you'll sacrifice your family, your salary, and your time. For some "true chefs," it's worth it.

But if you want to make money...

Dress the part. You don't see CEOs walking around in sweats with greasy hair. Make sure your uniform is clean, hair is groomed, nails are cut, etc. Cover up any tattoos and take out any piercings unless you're working somewhere really hip.

If the owners are around, pay attention to how they interact with people. Watch your Sous Chefs and the Exec if he or she is there. Watch the GM. They've probably all learned how to work the business end. Keeping your head down and doing the work gets you somewhere, but lifting your head up to network when the Exec comes in or to find a place to help out the Sous gets you promoted.


post #22 of 24
:) Give yourself another few years in the industry and you'll be singing a different tune.It isn't that cut-and-dry.

Sure,it's nice to believe that helping the sous/Exec will get you promoted,but it can also get you taken advantage of because they know you'll do the extra work and they can save on labor.Been there,done that,private and corporate.

Was I more respected? Sure.Did I get more money? No.Not if the budget didn't allow it because the Exec's bonus was based on how much they saved on labor/food costs for a fiscal year...or if someone else with seniority [and a lesser work ethic] was in line for a raise.

I wish it were as simplistic as being intelligent,professional,well-spoken and hard-working,but it isn't.This isn't always a fair business and you don't always get rewarded for what you do.Go work for Ritz-Carlton and you'll see what I mean.At both R.C's here in the Atlanta area,employees pay $150 a month to park their raise to make up for the money you lose,either.And if it's the slow season when you're only working less than 25 hours a week,they don't care.It's your problem,not theirs.

You can wait up to a year or more for a position to open so you can make a whopping 50 cents more an hour;they don't create one for you because you deserve it.And you have to be approved to apply for the position;you don't automatically get it.

While your advice is good,it's a little unrealistic.
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
post #23 of 24
As far as making money goes...

In the few places I've worked, it seemed like the guys who made more then the rest of the crew were the guys who were studs on the egg station, or the guys who could do ice and fruit carvings.

Edit: One of my chefs from Culinary used to work in contract managment for a bunch of secure government complexes. Apperently these guys made bank, because they could only work if they qualified for a security clearence and all the drug testing. IIRC, the dishwashers started at ~$15/hr and this was a while back.
post #24 of 24
ATL I was simply saying that it's one of the most valuable skills one can posses to put themself above everyone else with brilliant cooking prowess. Also, when you're speaking about unionized establishments (or based on union) like RC, there are totally different rules. I was assuming from this post that he was talking a normal restaurant job, seeing as almost nobody in the RC makes only $8/hr. So as far as freestanding restaurants go, it definitely does pay to communicate and put yourself out there. It always provides more responsibility which, even if you don't get more money upfront, provides you with skill to move up eventually, even if into another establishemennt. And if the chef likes you, you have a shot at getting promoted. If he doesn't, you stay a dishwasher forever. Period.

And on another note,

In every business, people stick their necks out just a bit further for those whom they like personally. And as for me, I never waited around for raises. I was always looking for any way I could to get promoted. A $1/hr pay raise in addition to a position with more responsibility is a way better thing to strive for than a $0.25 raise for the same old, same old. What I'm saying is, bust your ***.

And...If there's no room to move up where you are, leave. Really, what's the point in making the same salads for 2 years with no hope of advancement? As someone said above, knowing when to leave is another very important skill.
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