I have to agree with @Chefross . The idea, to be a real chef, you have to work in Fine Dining, work a dozen + hours a day/night, get in the shits, burns, working the pass , expediter, etc. is an a concept that is left over from days gone by. Those old, primitive and antiquated thoughts that, "one must pay their dues" is passe, Just as the old " sharp stick in the eye routine of management" is going away.
The reality is that there are many avenues to seek out in a Culinary type of career. With normal hours that allows you work, live and enjoy life. Most will compensate you for your manual effort as well as your mental effort, and are usually paying quite a bit more then restaurant fine dining.
Some careers that come to mind, not only because I have investigated them, but have many friends doing these things. Research and Development, Restaurant Publicist, Nutritionist, Food Science-Food Activist, Personal Chef, On Board Chef, Caterer, Food Stylist, Bed and Breakfast, Culinary Instructor, Specialty Food Buyer, etc.
To insinuate that a position with a day time feeder, contract College, Hospital, Caterer, is not as challenging or that fine dining is a prerequisite, is a misconception. Both require Food Technique, passion, and the true understanding of Food and Money management.