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A question for the culinary instructors

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Greetings All.

Alright,I am getting at the point in my career [18 years!] where I am considering other options to being in an actual kitchen.I have been asked if I was interested in teaching and it does have it's points that are appealing to me...along with points that aren't!

I love being in a kitchen;I love the sheer physicality and unpredictable nature...but it's not as easy now as it was 10 years ago on my body.I'm looking 5 years down the road when I'm 40 and it's gonna be a little harder to get up at 3:30 am and do my 12 to 14 hour days.

So,to all the instructors: is it satisfying to you? what is your level of frustration compared to a working kitchen?

My biggest fear is that I would just snap as an instructor.I am patient,but I have my limits. I know what the pool of students is like and it would be somewhat difficult for me to be in front of 35 people [mostly under the age of 25] knowing a select few will actually be in the industry for long after they graduate.I don't want to talk just to hear the sound of my voice,you know?:)

I really would love to teach,but the person has to WANT TO LEARN.From my experience in school at 34,I was ready to kill my classmates because they just seemed to be there because it seemed like a good idea at the time.You do this long enough and you can spot talent and who's just taking up oxygen,you know?


so,let it rip with any advice!
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #2 of 10
Atl,

I have been teaching now for just over 3 years. This after 25 years in the industry. I have found it to be the most satisfying as well as frustrating job I have held. The frustration cames from what you duly noted in your post about students not really putting in the effort required.

The hardest part for me at the beginning was learning how to step back, let them make a mistake, and then teach the correct way. As for the frustration,I never give up on a student,but, I will give the "star" students more of me just because they deserve it. Not all good chefs make good teachers, it's very different from the field as we know it.

My quality of life has gone up 100%
My salary has gone down 40%:beer:
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #3 of 10
I worked in the industry for 15 years and have been teaching for 5. I can answer your question this way: I would do anything for the success (both in school and personally) for my students. They mean the world to me. I work harder then I did in industry because it means more to me. Is it tough? You bet. Are the hours better than industry? Most of the time. You really aren't off in the summer... unless you aren't doing something right. There is nothing that compares to bearing witness to discovery! That's my paycheck. (And the state benefits are too bad, either.)

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

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post #4 of 10
Been in this industry 25 yrs, and have started on my way to becoming an instructor. In my neck of the woods a major requirement to instruct is a Provincial Instructor's Diploma, a series of 6-1 week courses. I completed this in March and have started to look for work. We have an excellent C.C. here in Vancouver but I was told by the Head of Culinary Dept. that frankly, I'd have to wait until an Instructor dies before a position opens up.

My next move was to check out the private schools, Vancouver has quite a few of them. I couldn't get an interview with Pacific Culinary Institute because I didn't have a thick European accent. I was told I needed extensive European background before I could be granted an interview, according to the Admin. assistant. I asked her if she read my resume, she replied yes. I asked her if a 3 year apprenticeship In Switzerland, 3 years post apprenticeship work as a comis in 5 star hotels, and 6 years experience in S.E. Asia would meet this requirement. She hung up. I check out the Arts Insititute. (a.k.a.) DuBrule I wrangled an interview with the Head of Culinary Arts. There I was told that inspite of my my experience I would need some kind of formal education, University level. What kind of degree, I asked? Anything, was the answer, perhaps political science like himself. I hated the man's guts already but persued further. Now take Instructor X for example, I asked, does he have a degree? I knew X for quite some time, definitley not University material. No... was the reply. How about Instructor Y? Y was a crazy Frenchman with a reputation for verbal abuse and attitude. Ahh.., no. was the reply. I thanked the man for his time got the heck out of there.

To teach in Highschool or secondary school I would require a bachelor of education degree, and I'm not ready to go to University for that. I have talked with quite a few Instructors and am still learning a lot. On the one hand the bennies are great, great salary, great hours, 5 weeks (count 'em, 5 weeks!) holiday, etc. On the other hand you have to contend with the eejits-the ones with great expectations and no comprehension of effort required to meet their expectations, the "maybe-so's" who are unsure that this is the career for them, the drug addicts, the trouble makers, and the ones who are under financial stress and make threats when you mark their work according to the effort and skill given-not to their expectations. In other words it's not all peaches and cream, just the stress redistributed, that's all.

As a note of interest, I'll be having a grand opening on my new business in early July........
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thank you all!

I appreciate all the information,good and bad.I was very well aware of what it would entail.

As idealistic as it may sound,for me it would be worth aggravation to reach the precious few who do care and to be the instructor that years down the road,they'll remember [in a positive light,mind you!].
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #6 of 10
I got 20 years on you so I am not sure if this makes me feel like Methuselah or what!:eek:

"Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you."
Satchel Paige

"How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?"
Satchel Paige
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #7 of 10
I have been in the industry for 52 years and love it as much now as the first day I tied on an apron. I’ll be beginning my 18th year as a chef instructor in a vo-tech high school. A few months ago I was thinking of how much I missed the every day life on the firing line. Anyone who thinks the life of a culinary instructor beats the drudgery of the business is in for a rude awakening. An advantage of doing what I am now and what it was pre instructor days is maybe less night and weekend work. The benefits are better and the pay is regular but you must be prepared for many frustrations and disappointments when working with the youth of today. True there are many exceptions to this (the former students who return to share their triumphs and achievements) they are the ones which will keep you enthused. Still, the disappointments are many and can be debilitating.
What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone? Berthold Brecht
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What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone? Berthold Brecht
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post #8 of 10

Thanks atltournant

I am really glad this question came up. I was thinking in about 10-15 years lookin into teaching instead of being in the kitchen. I am sure by then things will be 100X's different but atleast this gives me an idea of what to expect and maybe look forward too. I am glad I got to hear some real world answers they are always the best.
Bigsimp:smoking:
post #9 of 10
A friend, who is a brilliant pastry chef, is now teaching at a chain operation culinary school. He sold his bakery/restaurant to take the job. He says the most difficult part of the job is the moral dilemma of knowing that so few of his students will have any kind of real career in the food industry. He recently told me that his ultimate goal is to open a small school to teach those who want to exclusively become pastry chefs. He intends on being very selective in who he will enroll. "I'll take 10 students for a one year program at $20,000 each. When they finish with my program, they'll be employable anywhere."
post #10 of 10
After 20+ years doing cakes and desserts I decided to get my Degree so I could teach. I was adamant before I signed on the dotted line that I would be able to get a teaching gig after graduation.

I knocked myself out, went above and beyond what was asked of me. Was able to keep my nose out of other people's mixing bowls unless they truly asked me a question as I felt I was in the same shoes as everyone else....A STUDENT.

I paid my tuition just like everyone else, so there was no need for me to come across as a "know it all". I kept myself real humble and worked myself to death.

I found out that I wasn't able to teach with my Associates, I have to have a MASTERS IN EDUCATION..( Whaaaaaaaa?) There are MANY Chef instructors WITHOUT a Masters in Education and at JWU!!

I felt, humiliated and descriminated against because of my age. It was ALWAYS being mentioned that I was to old for this, too old for that..ugh.

Yet, when we did things like, TASTE OF THE NATION or BIG Charity events at major venues with celebrity chefs, I stepped up to the plate many times. I had one Celebrity Chef Divo that was amazed that he NEVER had to ask me to get the stuff he was serving. I was always Johnny on the spot running down to the Kitchens and putting his mushroom tartlets into the carousel ovens, getting them out and upstairs to him piping hot and before he ran out! It seems he lost quite a bit of help when the younger students decided they wanted to see if they could get face time or 15 mins of fame....they forgot they were there to assists the celebrity chefs!!!

He was always about to turn around to see who was available to send them to get the little tarts and I was always walking up behind him before he could squeek he needed more....He even told me he was impressed with my ability to forsee his needs!

That's me...lol

I work hard and volunteered even harder... I lost my internship in England because they didn't turn in my paper work quickly enough...yet I had been asked if I could step in to an openning that was left vacant by a student in Italy...I had less than 2 1/2 weeks to get all my visas and shots to step in.

Then they wanted to send me around Europe...I was ok with that, no problem, I actually was looking foward to spending a few months in Italy, Ireland, England with layover weeks in France...I was then told if everything went well, I would accompany the Dept head to New Zealand and Australia to set up internships with Industry there. A total of 17 months abroad.

Nothing came from it, the Dept Head...Never returned my calls...I had shifted my Internship in England to accomodate this trip that never materialized and ended up losing my spot to a student from the CIA.

I was so depressed....felt like I wasted my time...I still want to teach. I am a GREAT teacher!!! Been teaching what I know through out my career. Have done Product Demonstrations at food shows, by invitation of some of my supliers.

Team player,keep my head down, do my work, keep my mouth shut...but can't get hired even if I PAID them.

So, if YOU get an opportunity to teach, go for it.

You will have time for family and friends, no more 10/15 hours days. You can always do extra hours if you want to do some great demos and you can host Celebrity Chefs at the school.

In the smaller Culinary schools, the Pastry programs go into Hiatus over the summer.

Right now I'm trying to get my RBA certification, because I heard that if I have that and with my Associates, I could probably get a position teaching.

The funny thing is, that JWU has lost 2 of it's Pastry Chef/Instructors...who ended up being my close friends since we were actually Peers! I don't mean to come across with any bitterness, far from it. I have my little shop with the money I didn't spend in Europe! lol and now...the school has asked me if I'd take an Intern. I don't mind and I'm happy...like a little piglet in mud!

( ha, I just looked at my post..what a long winded, not so quick reply comment..lol)
Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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