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Looking for some input...

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I know this might sound weird, but I feel like I might have gotten into this profession a little too late in my life. When I was younger I thought about becoming a chef and being a awesome one. Of course, I was young and naive so I didn't follow through on that dream. It took many years for me to find out this is what I want to do. This is what I love and want it to be my career. So at 31 I stepped into the kitchen life. Three years have passed and I'm starting to feel like, maybe I got into this a little too late. All the chefs I read about and idolize are either my age or younger. My exec. chef is 28 and is doing amazing things and it getting me thinking...am I passed my prime? The food that I make is good. The specials I've ran have always done well and the food I cook at home gets good reviews as well but, there's techniques I do not know since I never went to culinary school.

I've just been learning as I go and while that is super beneficial to me, I feel like by the time I learn the important stuff I'm gonna be in my 50s or something and not have the physical power to keep following my passion anymore. 

Just thinking out loud and figured I would post it on forum where I could get good feedback.

post #2 of 15
Are you fit? Confident? I cooked when I was in high school then a bit more in college then pursued another career and didn't get serious in the kitchen until I was in my late 20s. Some chefs just move way to fast. You can be a great exec (or a bad one) at 28, 38, 48 etc. whatever you did before cooking can give you a different perspective in the kitchen and that can be helpful. Culinary school is by no means a necessity. Read read read when you are at home and on your days off ask to help out at other places for free. Also you have to work high volume at least a year so you can hold your own on the line. Hang in there. Nothing feels better than pushing a 22 yo line cook out of the way and doing faster better and cleaner at 35
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

I'm fit-ish. I am by no means skinny, but not overweight either. I guess I'm somewhere in the middle and if anything the two flights of stairs I have to run up and down everyday keeps me somewhat in shape lol. Confident...I say yes and no. The title for me wasn't a choice on here so I picked line cook, but I'm actually Chef Garde Manger. My chef trusts my sense of taste enough to give me that title so in that case I'm confident. On the other side, I still feel like I'm slow at things, but that's the perfectionist in me. I want things right, perfectly seasoned and plated to perfection. So that's way I also say no. 

I am avid reader of F&W, Bon Appetit and Savuer magazines (by this point I should just get a subscription, but oh well) and watch any cooking show that I can. I am constantly on the search for knowledge. I've been doing this for three years and it is high volume at my restaurant. It only seats 55 people, but when it gets rockin..it gets rockin (I have been witness to that place turning over two full times and then a half turn on a super busy night). I'm actually looking to do some internships on my days off at other places just to get more knowledgeable so it looks like I'm on the right path. I won't give up. I'll hang in there. I've made it this far and I won't let a overthinking mind set me back.

post #4 of 15

You'll always feel that way man. I've been going serious in the industry for 3 years now and I'm 23 now, and I still envy the chef's you see who are 18 and cooking at a much higher caliber. This is the type of career that makes you wish you were born in the kitchen.

post #5 of 15

Your on the right track, as suggested above, get some high volume experience.

That's good you can turn 2 1/2 times, but that's not high volume. Get in somewhere that's doing 5-600 a night.

Banquets and off site catering are a great learning experience also.

post #6 of 15
Quote:
You'll always feel that way man. I've been going serious in the industry for 3 years now and I'm 23 now, and I still envy the chef's you see who are 18 and cooking at a much higher caliber. This is the type of career that makes you wish you were born in the kitchen.
post #7 of 15

Archbow is right, there will always be others around you doing amazing things you will envy. Age has little to do with it, I've seen creativity come out of older chefs I had previously thought burned out and really awful ideas from gung-ho newbies. We're all competitive in this industry so it's pretty important to keep in mind that there will always be chefs you admire and new ones coming up with things you wish you'd thought of. Creativity grows as you develop and learn new techniques and missteps are just another form of learning. Given some time and enough curiosity you will become the kind of chef all the FNG's are watching. Float around and try to get loads of experience. I love to play around even when it turns out horribly, I think that teaches me more about what should and should not do than anything else. Don't be afraid to take risks and make mistakes. (That said, I usually do my playing on my dime, not my boss's)

post #8 of 15
I a was in nearly the same boat. You can do it. A couple of things to remember:

Its always about the job, not the career. If you get fixated on where you "should" be at this point in your life, especially in relation to other other people, you will be stuck in a vortex of self depreciation. Its always about the job at hand.

Work smarter, not faster or harder. You may have less energy to spare compaired to a twenty year old line jockey, so dont try. Figure out anything you can to save a step, always look for ways to do less work while getting the best possible results. Creativity in the kitchen isnt just about menu and dish development, its also about refining ways and means.

Al
post #9 of 15
At the risk of sounding rather steriotypical . It's never too late to realise a dream. If you truely love what you do and know its what you want to do as a career that's more than alot of people! be happy that you've found something that your passionate about and love doing. Also plenty of young chefs have climbed the ranks too quickly and have stopped learning... Why get hung up on what could have been or being the best there ever was etc etc. cooking for the love of it I think is a good mentality. Success is a bonus .
post #10 of 15
You are doing the right things. As mentioned work smarter. Use your brain more than your back. Let the 20 yo run up and down the stairs twenty times because his mis sucks. Also keep in mind some of those youngsters will be looking to change careers or take a little rest job in the future meaning you will probably end up as a peer to your 28yo exec not a subordinate
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 

Wow..I wish I had everyone of you in my kitchen!! Thank you so much for the support, it really means alot to me. 

@chefbuba..5-600 a night?! That number just seems super daunting to me lol, but I'd be up for the challenge (and going home for the night very, very humbled)

@archbow..Those are powerful words and so very true. Grant Achatz is a good example..dude is two years older than me is unbelieveable at what he does. He's one of the reasons why I'm doing what I'm doing.

@cat..One good thing about my place is that I kinda have free reign of the kitchen. If there's something I want to play with or make, I can come in on my days off and do it or if time permitting do something during my shift. I'm lucky to have that ability because not many have that chance. And it's always on my dime, I make sure of that lol

@allan...I am completely humbled by your post. You just made me have a completely different look on things and I will deffently do what you suggest. 

@geo...That's my mentality. If you can't love your job and love what you do, you won't be happy doing it and will never be successful. I am happy and I know success will come in time.

@borkbork...It's funny you mention that because today I was watching one of our interns from Johnson and Wales working and shes got a ways to go lol. Sure she can run my station. Yeah shes quick at prep, but almost half of the things she was doing she was doing wrong and had to be corrected a lot times. I just smiled and kicked the lunch rush's ass. Made me think of your words from before.

 

Right now I'm trying to get into a more high volume restaurant in Boulder and hopefully one in Denver. One is called Oak at Fourteenth and is one of America's Top 50 bars according to F&W and they are ALWAYS packed. The other one in Denver is called restaurant 1515 and they are also very well known and are always packed. Hopefully I can get more knowledge under my belt, I don't care if it's "grunt" work. Just being in those kitchens would be awesome to me. 

 

Once again, thank you for all of you words of encouragement!!

post #12 of 15

SO???? what is the problem? you are doing what you love, are you not? what do you care about getting into it late.

what's late? its too late at the moment, that you discover you have regrets about not following your heart.

that said: I am 47 and got into this when I was 46.....finishing exams in a few months and then the next level.......nothing's gonna stop me now!

so....whats the problem :) GO FOR IT BY ALL MEANS!

post #13 of 15
If you do Make the move to high volume which is great advice, Don't be intimidated by it. Personally I have found its all relative. Although i have not worked over 300 covers i have found a 100-200 covers fine dining 20 strong brigade could seem just as busy as a 8 strong uber fine dining 40 covers brigade. The more covers the more cooks the more the load is spread. Although the larger volume kitchen atmosphere at first Is a shock once the dockets start rolling in and your in the zone you'll be right at home. Though the mentality gets a bit different I've noticed less of a team atmosphere the larger the brigade. Very much every man/woman for themselves when it comes to equiptment / oven time / tea towels / spoons etc etc. I used to have to hide all my gear in my prep fridge. And get in crazy early b4 everybody else to get the gear you need for the day. And a ruthless attitude is needed in larger brigades to stay higher on the food chain so to speak.
Not saying they are all like this, just my personal experience .
Also I think " grunt" work at a quality restaurant will be much more beneficial than any work at a lower quality restaurant.
Edited by geo87 - 7/20/13 at 5:47am
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoulderChef View Post

 I feel like by the time I learn the important stuff I'm gonna be in my 50s or something and not have the physical power to keep following my passion anymore. 
 

I am passed my fifties and not ready to hang up my tongs yet, nor has anyone asked me to hang them up.

 

Last week a mid to late twenties culinary school grad was trying to figure out how I kept finishing ahead of him on the prep tasks we were sharing. Another guy in his forties, working the same tasks as well, said it's called experience. Layne will always finish ahead of you and not look busy while doing it. Don't worry about that, just be sure to pay attention and learn.

 

I am still growing, learning, and evolving, in the culinary arts and in life. I am not the same as I was in my forties, nor am I the same as I was in my twenties; but then I have no desire to be. I can hardly wait to see tomorrow brings.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheflayne View Post

I am passed my fifties and not ready to hang up my tongs yet, nor has anyone asked me to hang them up.

 

Last week a mid to late twenties culinary school grad was trying to figure out how I kept finishing ahead of him on the prep tasks we were sharing. Another guy in his forties, working the same tasks as well, said it's called experience. Layne will always finish ahead of you and not look busy while doing it. Don't worry about that, just be sure to pay attention and learn.

 

I am still growing, learning, and evolving, in the culinary arts and in life. I am not the same as I was in my forties, nor am I the same as I was in my twenties; but then I have no desire to be. I can hardly wait to see tomorrow brings.

Oh so true , i cant wait to one day be that experienced XD. 

Im 18 working the line ( doing an apprenticeship ) and well i love it , i see all these people with 10+ years in cooking and it inspires me. 

I just feel honored to work with alot of them. 

I have only been int his place for 4 months and working sautee was a challenge and now im actualy quite good at it. Im working with timing but it gets a bit better everyday as long as my prep is good and im in a good mood. Best part of it the guy who works grill has 15 years of exp. in the business and some days i can even finish before him ( but thats by like 5 minutes ) usually im the one finishing 10-20 minutes after him. 

 

All in all its a great experience and i dont really thing age in this business matters so much ,

Things that matter is dedication , deterination , willingness to learn , and passion ( i think you gotta love what you do ) . You can teach a person how to cook , but have a passion for it is something natural.

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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