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How many chefs/cooks/apprentices do you see leave this industry to do something totally different?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

  I was making so many mistakes today... I'm not sure why but I assume it was due to the lack to of sleep (my brother has been clubbing every night and he comes home late and always wakes me up, I can never get back to sleep afterwards). I made so many mistakes and didn't hear half the things the chef said to me... she remarked that I seem to be a bit dopey. I'm not really sure why, but I've noticed so many young commies, junior sous chefs - people who have practically finished their formal training, graduated from really bad apprentice wages - people who have more of a say when it comes to running a kitchen and designing menus ... these people are leaving the chef world to pursue something totally different. 

 

A really good knowledge filled junior sous chef at my work was going to quit soon because he decided he wanted to be a school teacher. Another guy, whose been cheffing for ten years, left my work to travel elsewhere, he decided he wanted to go back to London to finish his arts degree and then to do postgrad studies in Law. Another guy - a commis decided to go to university to study Chemistry. 

 

  I know that cheffing is hard. I also know that my experience is limited. It's just - all the young fully qualified and almost fully qualified chefs and cooks are hanging up their aprons and doing something totally different. It says a lot. I even wondered if I would be able to cope in the pressure and heat in a few years time. I wonder if I would be like them - hanging up the apron to do something totally different. I guess at least I am semi qualified in another industry so that helps.

 

Do you notice lots of young chefs running away from their culinary careers? 

post #2 of 16

Do not compare yourself with others. People change careers all the time for all kinds of reasons. You see these changes because this is the business you are in. Every one has a different life and different reasons for doing what they do. You will stay in the business or not depending on what choices you make. Those choices have nothing to do with anyone else. 

post #3 of 16

It's not just young chefs who leave. I have been in the industry 17+ years and I am seriously thinking of getting out. I'm nearly 46 and after my latest devastating bout with cold and/or flu (and just barely resting enough each night to go in the next day), I'm done with the weekly beating that my mind and body take. I'm going to take a huge risk and likely submit my notice before having something else; I'll take the time to meditate and consider what I am truly meant to be doing. Cooking is no longer it. Hey, it happens.

post #4 of 16

Wow. All this is hard for me to imagine.

At age 46, I enrolled at culinary school and currently work as a volunteer in a charity kitchen.

For me its all to start yet, and have when I was younger, dreamt to do this.....I used to be deaf.

Am very passionate and motivated, and get all the help I need....FINALLY. 

I now realise you make your own possibilities.

 

Now I see people of my age opting OUT of this industry. I know its hard but how can you lose a passion?

I wish anyone leaving the industry, all the best of luck and may you find a new passion on the way.

post #5 of 16

When I was teaching in a culinary school , 7 out of every 10 were not in industry after 3 years. Once they get out and see the reality of the business, they opt out.  Can't say I blame a young person.

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post #6 of 16

For Ed Buchanan - first off, thank you for posting. Second ... how would you rate teaching as a "next step" for someone who is done with kitchen work? I have also considered being an internship/career counselor at any sort of culinary school. I've worked in many places and feel I can offer a modest amount of advice.

post #7 of 16

I found the private school setting, rewarding. As far as NYC public schools on a High School level  a waste of your time and the supposed studenthey come to eat and not learn. Most were sent there by other schools who figured they are hopeless so teach them a trade. Does not really work that way. I did have some good students and it was greaqt to watch them progress in their careers  when school was done. Don't know about other stateds but NYC requirements and testing were fairly tough as they should be.

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post #8 of 16

Ed Buchanan, thank you for your reply. I'm in Tucson, AZ, there is really only one school here for culinary arts; fortunately I have a contact or 2 in admin. How stressful have you found teaching, on the private level?

post #9 of 16

Private not really stressful as they pay to go and want to learn and are usually older, and wiser.

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post #10 of 16

This business ages you both mentally and physicaly. Your feet, your back, your hands etc.

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post #11 of 16

Of the 19 people in my section at culinary school a couple of years ago, 2 of us work in restaurant kitchens now.  Another guy owns a food truck and another works at a corporate dining facility.   The rest are doing other things.

post #12 of 16

I've always adored cooking, but after having spent a few years in the industry I left and was happy to do so.. didn't think I'd ever be back. I was so burnt out. I looked like hell all the time. Lost every ounce of sex appeal I had as woman, and never had the time or energy do anything else in my life. I'm a true insomniac, so many days I was in agony from lack of sleep (dangerous combination in a kitchen for yourself, as well as your peers). Luckily for me I was able to leave for a while, I know many cooks/chefs don't have the luxury.

 

People who aren't in the business will never understand how tremendously taxing it is on the mind, body and soul. I decided to re-enter the industry (after a 5 year absence) because I finally once again felt young and re-energized...and pretty. wink.gif Still, I wonder how much longer I can continue doing this. Just this week I had the flu with a temp of 103 degrees, and had to work the next day, there was no way, no how I could call in, being that I'm the sole cook of the establishment I work in. I remember thinking to myself "God, this is one of the things I hate about this career, is not being able to call in sick, ever".  I think it's totally normal to have a love hate relationship with cooking for a living. Just make sure you have a really solid back-up plan in case you want out. You can always re-enter the field after a few years of so-called R&R.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #13 of 16

Yes Pollopicu, it's not just the energy that's required by the field ... it's also the time. One has time for little or nothing else after a tough day. If I may ask, what did you do during your 5-year hiatus from the industry?

post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 

  Thank you so much for your replies. The thing is, with me.. when I was in music school, I loved it initially - it took a lot of hard work to get into that school (I had to sit a test, get a high enough high school graduate score, do an audition, write a paper and sit two interviews). I felt grateful to have made it in... but after two years I was tired of it and I wanted to leave. I was studying music at that time - classical music. I loved but in the middle of my degree... I had enough. I took a year off and in that time, I did something completely different - I did a course in hospitality front of house duties and then I did another course in back of house duties. I got a job in a kitchen and loved it. For some reason, when you work very hard to get into something (if it's grad school, music school, med school, whatever, the whole world thinks you are an idiot for leaving - you worked damn hard and now you want to leave?!) Maybe that is my reaction to people leaving.  

 

  Having said that, when the year was up (it was last year by the way) I wanted to continue working in the kitchen but I knew it was sensible to finish my degree. And I feel the same way with cheffing ... I think it's a little bit silly to leave completely when you are almost finished. If you have been in the industry for years and you feel sick of it, that to me, is ok ... it happens but with your experience I would imagine you could always go back. Maybe this is part of being young, but I think through life we surprise ourselves. I didn't think I'd end up in a trade... I was the academic type in high school and I went to university and in my first year I enjoyed it ... I had no idea that I'd end up in trade school. In a similar manner I wonder that of other people - what if they want to be a chef again? With music, I was prepared to leave that world - you don't get paid to practice your instrument, teaching can be laborious and draining, writing papers can make you feel isolated from the world... thing is, I took time off and returned happy and refreshed. 

post #15 of 16
I went to culinary school in 2003 and went back to school after 3 years. Sucked to work in the kitchen while majoring in engineering. I had Sundays off, but that was reserved for studying only. Now I work regular hours, stable job and a lot happier. I still love to cook for friends and family.

I do applaud the chefs and cooks that work the long hours to feed us. It is hard work that deserves respect as all other professions. Who knows, maybe I'll jump back into industry once the tech bubble bursts.
post #16 of 16

People don't have to stay in the same career their whole lives i mean how boring would that be? i don't even see myself doing the same thing constantly, people need change but most these days don't learn much in life because they believe they can't, whoever is brave enough to change what they do i give big kudos to them because they do not listen to others and do whatever their heart desires, you don't have to do that ether and you can change what you do too, too many let their lives get daunting by doing the same thing year after year, the thought of that really makes me dread working at all, too many think they can dictate what people can and cannot do but that is part of free will people change their minds all the time and it's a good thing because they learn more than just life is all about work and money like a lot of people think, it's about learning and in this life we must learn everything we can even if life goes by so fast.

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