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Late Starter and Working Full Time

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hey there everybody! Let me start off by saying I am utterly new to this culinary thing. I have no idea what goes on in the kitchens expect for the movies i've watched and observing my own mother cook. So please bare with me and my ignorance about the questions I'm about to ask. (I have tried to do research, but culinary stuff is not as easy to search as say Animation schools)

Situation: My MOTHER is 50 years old. She was born in the Philippines and got her High School Diploma there. She hasn't really had any "college experience" when it comes to General Ed and really fears having to take them. She knows how to speak English fluently, but has her filipino moments. She is also working as a full time Resident Manager for the Hospital's Residential Apartments.

She wants to learn culinary arts stuff so that for whatever reason she wants to quit, move, or just to have a backup, she can go and cook for somebody and possibly own her own little place (either here or in the Philippines. though i'd much rather her here in America)

My question to all of you:

** Is it realistic for her to start learning culinary arts now?

I read that people who go into that - first go to school, then apprentice or internship, travel the world/nation (optional?) to taste stuff, work many years for experience, slowly work your way up a few more years, then POSSIBLY owning your own shop.

In her case, I think she just wants to learn, get experience since it's necessary for getting hired, and then own a little place focused on maybe filipino and other types of food. Not be an uber chef and become the next Emeril.

** Second, I'm sure you guys would recommend Community College right?

I read here that where you get your education doesn't really matter in the cooking industry. Just how much experience and quality you have.

** Third, What would you suggest she do to start on her way to owning her own little shop?

Probably Restaurant Management class right?

** Lastly, Is this culinary goal possible with her working full time like she is now?

Or will she HAVE to quit her job if she wanted to get anywhere far in her goal? Like, will this culinary goal require more hours than she can still WHILE doing an 8 to 5 job. She is willing to do night classes and saturday classes. I'm not sure what internships are like and if they require full time availability.

--- Thank for reading this post from a concerned offspring of a busy mom.

BTW, the reason I am posting these questions and not my mom is because she doesn't know how to use a computer. I hope culinary arts doesn't require computer literacy too. ; \ bleh, hehe.
post #2 of 5
I take it you mean that she's human like the rest of us. I'll give you the drum: I speak English fluently and even I have my moments ;)

I'll say it straight up. I'm no chef. Yet. However, I'm leaving a very steady and long career in an effort to be one and comment as someone with a bit of life experience behind them, some research and gleaning the experiences of two close friends of mine who are now established cooking professionals, I will answer your questions thus:

Well if not now, when? A lot of people don't follow the sequence you've outlined and for various reasons it's not always the ideal way to go either. If she's healthy, passionate and of sound mind, then yes, it's realistic. What's not realistic is to spend the rest of your life wondering "What if I'd done that...?" If your mother wants to live her life with passion then yes, it's realistic.

Have you asked her what she wants? :) I don't mean to disappoint, but not everyone sees 'celebrity chef' a career ideal.

I can't comment for all countries, but where I am education in the cooking industry determines your progress (or decline) as a cook and is therefore vitally important. What sort of education is pursued depends a lot on both the individual's learning style and the quality of the education available. This is why it's important to research before making your decision. If your mother has not already done so, I would recommend she find and speak to chefs in her town. Even I was surprised how many were prepared to set aside their valuable kitchen time to speak to me about the various paths available in a culinary education and I gleaned valuable insights here.

Is this still a question given that you've answered it yourself? :)

I know quite a few people who have opened shops or developed catering businesses soon after completing their initial education and have done quite well for themselves. I also know people who don't have any formal training at all who run their own businesses. I think what really matters here is, again, personal circumstances, passion and drive. The only limits you place are those you place on yourself.

Yes and, in all likelihood, yes. Getting a culinary education is possible working full time. They do that here too. However, whether this option remains viable is another thing altogether. In my case, I am able to work presently as I'm in the very early stages (pre-apprenticeship) where I am able to attend the restaurant and college at night during the week and go through basic kitchen operations and catch up on compulsory reading and exercises etc on Sundays. However, I know that next year I'll have to quit my full time job as the work will require a keener focus but I am ready for this because I know that if I want to be anywhere near a good chef then there comes a point where I must stop my old career and devote myself to my new one. Life is full of sacrifices and a new career is no different. As the Chinese say, if you chase two rabbits, both will escape :)

Show her how :lips: Because eventually she'll need to know. My mother is 60 and she was afraid of computers. I eased her into it, just showing her bits at a time but letting her do the tasks and she's emailing and googling and tearing about forums like there's no tomorrow! :D

I hope this helps. The best of good luck to your mother.
Nobody likes being told what to do.
Until they get lost.
Nobody likes being told what to do.
Until they get lost.
post #3 of 5
If she has language issues, these can be improved. If you are aware of her "filipino moments" now's the time to get some help, BEFORE she enters the workplace. It may sound harsh, but getting fired or screamed at in a kitchen isn't going to be fun either. I'm not the most sympathetic person when it comes to certain topics. I realize that she is older, but don't use it as a crutch. My wife didn't speak English when she came to North America. Now she excels at my native language. She does not have any "Polish moments".

Computer literacy can be learned. All it requires is a little effort. My mother is 62 and is pretty computer literate. It didn't happen overnight, but it didn't take long either. Get her on a computer and start w/email. There are cheap and free classes available almost everywhere. My wife's sister never touched a computer until 2 years ago, now she is whizzing along just fine.

Good luck and let her do what makes her happy. Salamat.
post #4 of 5
If I were single, your mother would be too young for me. I know what old legs are like on a concrete floor.

That said, approaching a culinary career without any significant food service experience is very difficult at age 50. A close friend taught pastry at a local school of culinary arts. He said half his students were over 40s looking for the glamor of high end kitchens and that most reported extreme dissatisfaction when the reality of their first jobs slapped them in the face. Your mother, in all likelihood, hasn't a clue what a real food service career entails. Do her a favor. Talk to a local restaurant owner. Ask him if he'll allow Mom to help with prep on an eight to ten hour shift. Explain why.
post #5 of 5
RSteve, your introductory crass comment aside, if you read the initiating post you would've seen that being clueless was kinda the reason for the thread in the first place.

It's quite possible to attend community college and work in a bakery if she chooses to go that way or, alternatively, in a place where service is somewhat less rushed, eg. a hospital/clinic.

Extreme dissatisfaction can also translate to 'school was unrealistic with post graduate expectations' too you know ;)
Nobody likes being told what to do.
Until they get lost.
Nobody likes being told what to do.
Until they get lost.
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