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Serious Question for All Educated Chefs

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

As the time for me to choose a serious career path becomes closer and closer, I find myself filled with questions which I'd like to ask educated chefs.

My number one priority in a lifelong career is freedom. Many serious careers suffer from lack of freedom such as medical and legal careers. The main thing which geared me towards culinary school was the apparent freedom that chefs seem to have.

Theoretically - a chef can work anywhere. Whether they live in New York, or San Francisco, or Paris, food is always there. There are no limits, no state-bound licenses, and no permits for working as a chef. All that's required is knowledge about food and you're good to go...or so I thought. 

 

To all the educated chefs out there, is a culinary degree and a few years experience all you need to work anywhere? Let's say I have a 2 year degree from Johnson and Wales and a few years experience in fine New York restaurants. Would I able to take a one-way ticket to say Paris, or Tuscany, or Luxembourg and find a job, or would the regional differences and language barriers make it impossible? 

 

Is it possible for a chef to find jobs internationally, regardless of compensation, or is it just unrealistic? Is it unrealistic to invest in a culinary education expecting that it will be of use around the world, or will I be forced to fly back to America and keep a stationary job in one city for the rest of my life?

If anyone has ever tried this, or know anyone who has tried something similar, I would appreciate some serious feedback...who could I talk to about a question like this?

post #2 of 11

A. A "culinary degree/diploma/certificate" guarantees NOTHING!

 

B. Experience guarantees NOTHING!

 

C. Performance guarantees EVERYTHING!

 

Now, TBS, what is the "best course of action" to achieve your goals?

 

Well, you can learn the "basic skills" in at least three (3) ways:

  • Pay for an "education" in "learning the trade, anywhere for $5,000 to, oh say, $60,000, or
  • Apprentice yourself through ACF or independently, or
  • Teach yourself or learn by working locally

 

Each has it's advantages and disadvantages. None of the methods of learning the basics will guarantee you ANYTHING!

 

If you want to learn and are willing to apply yourself, you "may" get to the point where you can get a job cooking anywhere but, IMHO, that will take several years at a minimum.

 

If I were under 30, I'd do whatever I could to get at least a BA/BS if not a MA/MS in something, then consider "learning a trade" such as culinary, but then, I'm an "old f@at" with a BS that I've rarely applied over the last, oh, 45 years or so.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #3 of 11

The Euros have a different approach than us N. Americans, there they have apprenticeships, and there, you need take a course and pass an exam to operate a food establishment.

 

You will find that in most European countries there is a remarkable difference in salaries between apprenticed and un-apprenticed cooks.

 

What will get you in those kitchens is referrals.  Of course language skills and great flexibility as well as respect for customs and traditions doesn't hurt either.

 

I think you need to re-think the whole "freedom" schtick.  In many trades and proffessions there is quite a lot of freedom, even in the medical and legal professions

 

Cooks may have "Freedom" in making daily specials, but they have to make everything else exactly as the Chef or owner wishes.

 

Guarantees are only for death and for taxes, everything else is a destinct "it all depends".....  
.  

...."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 #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

So to anyone who can answer this..

What exactly does it take to be able to get an internship abroad in order to develop international culinary skills?

Do you constantly call? Ask chefs for connects? Persistently fax resumes to restaurants? Buy a one-way plane ticket and test your luck? 

How can an American find acceptance among fine dining establishments in Europe and other parts of the world?

post #5 of 11

I would find a job in the USA first to determine whether or not this is what you really want to do. Then I'd worry about the rest.

 

Also, I'd have to agree with foodpump on the whole "freedom" thing. I'm not exactly sure it's the best idea to focus on a profession if your main draw to it is that you will be able to do it wherever you happen to find yourself. If a passion and interest in food isn't at the top of your list, maybe you should think more on your choice.

Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
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Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
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post #6 of 11

I too have a hard time understanding just what is meant by "freedom."

Do you mean more time off to pursue your life?

Or....do you mean freedom to create while at your job?

 

In either case, I believe you are mistaken.

If you are a passionate person about your job, freedom is irrelevant.

 

If you are truly interested in the culinary world, you need to pursue a few jobs here in the USA before thinking about going abroad.

America has a problem with the restaurant industry.

It doesn't recognize it as a legitimate profession and in so doing doesn't pay the pro's what they deserve.

In Europe people in our industry are respected and paid for what they do.

post #7 of 11

I guess this makes me a" Successful Chef Idiot", Freedom is in ones own mind, every profession has it until greed and egos get in the way. I learned this 20 years ago while driving up rural road up to a new job Managing a Cafeteria in a Potato processing plant, I said to myself," You sure have come a long way to get no place" That was the first step to me realizing, it didn't matter where I was,as long as I stayed true to myself and didn't change who I am. After 5 years I formed my own Management company/Vending company/Catering company and have been in business for 14 years, what I thought was the bottom of my career was really the stepping stone to success..................ChefBillyB

post #8 of 11

Freedom huh,this can apply in several ways as pointed out by my fellow chefs/cooks,sure,i believe its true  (with your proposed experience,tho a degree is not essential-but u can command more $$) you have the FREEDOM (1) to work around the world, as,unlike those in factorys facing retrenchment due to over production/slow sales,people will always need to eat-therefore  culinary people will always be in demand,in work no matter what country. As for licences/visas/restrictions well that  differs in each country a little,tho cooking itself is still cooking,you can go far career wise,travel far,and keep climbing the  ladder with better pay and bigger challenges in bigger places for life.Go as high and as far as you want, (freedom) its rewarding but no picnic-you WILL work hard to gain this-so way up which freedoms for you-if its lifestyle-as below,go drive a bus.

FREEDOM (2)  of lifestyle?-mm-i speak from a restaurant view only as opposed to cafe/other eateries with daytime hours-its demanding,hard work that consumes your day-and life-therefore-little freedom,much like the on call doctors/medical/legal whom work simular hours here-12-15 hours is not uncommon in chefing/medical-i have done 17 straight before.Hard on relationships/family/pets etc.

FREEDOM (3)  can relate to creative art-with food/ingredients,a culinaire must think & make new exciting dishes with taste,colour,texture,style,flair,aroma etc we have a certain degree of freedom to do this-depending on how long the bosses leash is.

As for your degree/certificate-it will be highly regarded as will accompanying refferences from restaurants (at the very least),however,like pete says in his post, performance guarentees everything-"anyone can talk the talk-but can you walk the walk?" meaning sure u got a certificate-but can you perform? ive worked with many nationalites,many of whom hold a certificate or degree-yet cant produce a basic mayonaise-the performance...if you will

As for regional differences-what a great way to learn, thats part of the adventure isnt it? a bit of the lingo might help-like  MMMM  Bonjorno"Bella donna".

Possible to find jobs overseas?-you betcha-sites like this one  we're at or,eg,www.cookwork.com  to name one of many im sure  has a job section-ive seen jobs at the 7 star "Berge" hotel in emirites among many others,uk jobs are advertised regularly  on seek.com.au and if i looked im sure id find others in Europe-my casual cauldnt fill his shift-cos he got a contract o/s n flew out in just days.........

Where theres a will-theres a way-but it will take passion,determination,guts and some skill.

best of luck.

 

 

still not sure-come have a chat, phil_thy@live.com  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by international View Post

As the time for me to choose a serious career path becomes closer and closer, I find myself filled with questions which I'd like to ask educated chefs.

My number one priority in a lifelong career is freedom. Many serious careers suffer from lack of freedom such as medical and legal careers. The main thing which geared me towards culinary school was the apparent freedom that chefs seem to have.

Theoretically - a chef can work anywhere. Whether they live in New York, or San Francisco, or Paris, food is always there. There are no limits, no state-bound licenses, and no permits for working as a chef. All that's required is knowledge about food and you're good to go...or so I thought. 

 

To all the educated chefs out there, is a culinary degree and a few years experience all you need to work anywhere? Let's say I have a 2 year degree from Johnson and Wales and a few years experience in fine New York restaurants. Would I able to take a one-way ticket to say Paris, or Tuscany, or Luxembourg and find a job, or would the regional differences and language barriers make it impossible? 

 

Is it possible for a chef to find jobs internationally, regardless of compensation, or is it just unrealistic? Is it unrealistic to invest in a culinary education expecting that it will be of use around the world, or will I be forced to fly back to America and keep a stationary job in one city for the rest of my life?

If anyone has ever tried this, or know anyone who has tried something similar, I would appreciate some serious feedback...who could I talk to about a question like this?

post #9 of 11


Pete,your've a wise head on those old shoulders
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post

A. A "culinary degree/diploma/certificate" guarantees NOTHING!

 

B. Experience guarantees NOTHING!

 

C. Performance guarantees EVERYTHING!

 

Now, TBS, what is the "best course of action" to achieve your goals?

 

Well, you can learn the "basic skills" in at least three (3) ways:

  • Pay for an "education" in "learning the trade, anywhere for $5,000 to, oh say, $60,000, or
  • Apprentice yourself through ACF or independently, or
  • Teach yourself or learn by working locally

 

Each has it's advantages and disadvantages. None of the methods of learning the basics will guarantee you ANYTHING!

 

If you want to learn and are willing to apply yourself, you "may" get to the point where you can get a job cooking anywhere but, IMHO, that will take several years at a minimum.

 

If I were under 30, I'd do whatever I could to get at least a BA/BS if not a MA/MS in something, then consider "learning a trade" such as culinary, but then, I'm an "old f@at" with a BS that I've rarely applied over the last, oh, 45 years or so.

post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by phillipo View Post


Pete,your've a wise head on those old shoulders
 


 

Aw shucks , thank you.
 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
post #11 of 11

Like Pete I am also a senior. If I had it to do all over again I would do same as I did. Try and learn every facet of the business, not only the cooking end but all the business angles as well. Read, Read and keep abreast of all new trends, but never forget the classical ways.. Think of it as a life not a job like they did in Europe. All the jobs I have had and there were many, I maybe could still go back and had good feelings with owners and staff accept for 1.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
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