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Possible Career Change... Input Please!

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone, I am 27 years old, currently a police officer working for a large well-known and respected department. After high school, I looked into a career in the culinary field, but was talked out of it by peers and family members. I held a couple of jobs before getting hired by my current employer. I have grown tired of police work and the police culture for many reasons, and am looking at a career change. My wife will soon be working as an medical sonographer making almost as much as I make now, so I figure now is the time to make that change, if ever. I have always loved food and cooking for friends and family, so I am revisiting the culinary field as a possible career choice. I've pretty much decided that the best route for training for me would be the culinary arts program at my community college (a decently reputable program for $3,500 vs $35,000 for Le Cordon Bleu or Art Institute, which I have not heard much good about anyway!). There are no other reputable schools anywhere near me, and I can't travel because I have a family so that limits my options. I have no illusions of becoming a celebrity chef, nor any aspirations to do so. I've read on here and heard horror stories painting a picture of Hell for aspiring chefs, and I'm sure the path isn't an easy one. But I'm in good shape, I'm smart, a hard worker, a quick and critical thinker, am very experienced in working long, irregular hours under stress and in terrible conditions (no disrespect intended, but as bad as a kitchen can be, I doubt ANY chefs or cooks have ever had deal with what I have on patrol as far as working conditions and "clientele"), I'm used to having to swallow my pride and take it on the chin sometimes (have to absorb lots of verbal abuse from citizens and supervisors alike). So those aren't issues for me. Basically, the way I see it is that after doing this job, I can handle anything. So I guess I'm just looking for a little perspective and advice from people who are currently trying to make their way as chefs. I have heard all the negatives, mostly from people who have been doing it for decades, but with all the negative I wonder what it is that has kept them in the field for so long. Also, is there anyone out there who has some positive experiences to share? I just think it would be great to get paid to cook and create. Is that unrealistic? Sorry, I know this is a long post, but I appreciate anyone who has some input for me. Thanks!

post #2 of 4

EVH5150 

As any profession the restaurant industry has many plus and minus factors. You as a police officer have encountered many of  them  already. Like working weekends and holidays and nights and days , out in the heat and dealing with some crazy people, so you are 3/4 of the way there. 

    At 27 you have a long time in front of you ,give it a shot if you want. Otherwise when you get older and didn't  you might regret it. As far as spending big bucks? iF you have a community college near you? Go there first.

      On your patrol see if there is a great restaurant  and inquire if you could work there to learn even part time. This way you could really get the feel of it and see if you want to go further.        Almost all the schools start with the basics, so why pay more for the same thing. I wish you good luck. 

    As far as negative towards the industry , when people ask me about going into it I tell them all the negatives and unlike the schools , I  do not tell you to expect sugarplums and in 1 year after graduating being chef at The Waldorf as they do.

I would do it all over again,and after 50 years in the industry  I think that says a lot.

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...

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post #3 of 4

EVH5150:

"5150" means "crazy person on the loose" in LEO lingo, right? I have previously worked in private security(in-house, and contract security), aka as a "rent-a-cop."

I would suggest that you attend that community college instead of a "Blue Ribbon" school. Research online about former students suing that corporation for feeling defrauded by those schools. In the real world, no employer cares one iota about where a job-applicant attended a culinary school or not. They only care if you can do the job, and do it efficiently, and at the lowest wage that they will pay you, kitchen-politics notwithstanding.

I would also suggest that you work part-time concurrently while attending school, but at the best kitchen which will hire you. I would suggest that you apply at golf country-clubs, and hotels, because they usually have "brigade" kitchens, which offer you more opportunities to learn from other chefs and cooks. They might even occasionally hire "externs" from culinary schools.

Feel free to PM me if you would like to correspond with me for advice. I look forward to hearing from you.

Take care. I must go now. I work 3 cook jobs, and I have little time to sleep, nor do anything else.

Buttercup: You mock my pain!
Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something. -- The Princess Bride
Miracle Max: Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world-except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean...
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Buttercup: You mock my pain!
Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something. -- The Princess Bride
Miracle Max: Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world-except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean...
Reply
post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies, guys. Glad to have a little bit of affirmation for my choice of going the community college route. Can't fathom paying 10 times the amount of money to learn the same basic skills, plus have to drive 3 times as far to get to class.

Also thank you guys for the advice on working part time in a kitchen for the time being. I think that's a good idea. Hell, I might realize it wasn't what I wanted after all. Better to find out sooner than later if that is the case (although I hope it isn't). We have a KILLER world class golf course in my town with a reputable kitchen so I might start there. Local decent dining options are somewhat limited to the city area about 30 min away from where I live, save for a couple spots here and there. A fine dining market is non existent in the crap-hole city I currently patrol.

Unknown: Yes, 5150 is the California welfare and institutions code for people who are a danger to themselves or others. Although in the case of my username, it is a nod to Eddie Van Halen, my favorite guitarist. What drew you towards a career in cooking as opposed to a career in law enforcement?
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