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Too Old to Start?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

So i'm a 20 years old, soon to be 21(in january 2013)and i was wondering if i'm too old to start in this business. I've worked a total of 3 months as a Line cook in a Spanish place and 1 week in a Italian place.


I've worked with a 22 years old chef that started at 16. I've heard Jacques Pepin begin with 13 years old. Most of the sucessfull Chefs in my area started at 16.


I don't come from a rich family, i don't come from a cook(or people who actually care for food) family and i'm not the most talented or fastest out there. Do i even stand a chance to be sucessfull in this business? what are some "intensive learning" i could get, maybe working in a Hotel?


I don't want culinary school because i think having less than a year of experience is too early to comit myself to something like culinary school.

post #2 of 9 19 atm and ur only like 2 years older than me?

i began my "culinary experience" last year...
been working 3 days a week at a restaurant in my school and was offered an internship at a hotel for 3 months

i personally think its... "never too late" to start...
cuz I've seen other people in the industry who started rather late.. but are all doin pretty ok

it all depends on your expectations of course

like.. are u going to become the "next Robuchon?"
or... ur happy being a line chef? or being a head chef in a restaurant? hotel? ...

culinary school isnt mandatory... (i personally think u'll LEARN more working at restaurants... especially if you show that you are truly dedicated and hard working.. the head chef might take u and train you)

culinary school is for - license and .... a certificate for you to advance faster in the field..

post #3 of 9

If you can hook up with the right Chef / Instructor then you could do fine. Yes you are going to be behind as far as what you should already know, and know how to do it, but if you can find a Chef or restaurant owner with a little patience, they will teach you these things. However; it's up to you to make up for the few years of knowledge you dont have, by listening and doing what the chef says, working your ass off to prove that you want it without whining or complaining.


If your heart is truly in it, I think you'll be fine if you find a Chef patient enough to teach you.

post #4 of 9

I didn't start working in restaurants until I was around 21. Around 3 years in the business but I've already managed to work in a variety of environments and at one point or another have worked every position in the kitchen. I've spent most of my time working in more corporate restaurants in the "Casual/Fine dining" category but with no real value or substance to their food or service. There's money in that direction but no love. Now at 24 years old, I'm about to start my first of 2 years at culinary school to get the knowledge and certification I think I need to get some big names under my belt. 


You're not too old.

post #5 of 9

No one is too old!

I've been a private chef/Caterer for 30 years, with no formal schooling, just a father who was a chef. I didn't do it full time, just as I wanted. Two years ago at 50, I was laid off my job, and to culinary school I went, now at 52 I'm an executive chef/corporate trainer, with unique high class wine bar. So If a 52 year old woman, who is a full time college student, move into the world of cooking, anyone can. The only difference is, some of us has to work smarter, not harder. I have to compete with young culinary genius, which taught me I just needed to be smarter in how to get the jobs.

No one is ever to old to live their passion...... and that my young friend is what I am doing, living and working my passion, food!

post #6 of 9

NO ! You are never too old.

When I retired at 62 and our Sysco salesman heard that I had turned in my written resignation letter I did get 2 phone calls from 2 different places who wanted to hire me.( 2 month before my 63 rd birthday )

Every smoker quits smoking sooner or later!

Only the smart ones are doing it while they are still alive.

Wer den Pfennig nicht ehrt,

Ist des Talers nicht wehrt !


Every smoker quits smoking sooner or later!

Only the smart ones are doing it while they are still alive.

Wer den Pfennig nicht ehrt,

Ist des Talers nicht wehrt !

post #7 of 9
Education is great at any age!
However culinary school is usually brutal on the wallet. This is especially true once the "fever" kicks in and the infinite obsession for more tools, gadgets, and better knives. Dropping 300 on average for a blade comes without a blink of an eye. One so Sharp just looking at it will make you bleed.
Another thing....if you do it for the love. The kitchen has no tolerance for wannabes, TV is a joke, and celebrity stardom fades into Kmarts made in China kitchen goods section.
One more thing: be fast, be cool, and enjoy the pain. In the end a good beer awaits!
The Sleezstak
post #8 of 9
I was a mechanic for six years with a degree that I earned for Paralegal. Then I awoke one morning unhappy and wanted to make a change. So at the age of 24 I decided to go to culinary school. I've never been happier with my decision. I love creating and the fast pace.
post #9 of 9

21 is by no means too old...



I'm 26 and i only started my culinary life in full seriousness last year when i started culinary school, even more so i had people nearly twice my age in some of my pastry labs.

I would advise maybe taking some armature level classes to get a bit of a feel, and if you can get a job at a good restaurant even for low level work and hopefully go up from there as you learn, you should be just fine.


however, if you are thinking of advancing in the industry culinary school will come very useful.


I go to Johnson and Wales university and you have no idea how much i learned this last year, from the pastry labs, to all the books and resources the university has.

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