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New Forum Member/considering Culinary School

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

A brief introduction.


I am almost 32 years old, and I work for a very large consumer products company. I am in a purchasing manager type role, purchasing highly complex machine tooling and managing their delivery, quality, and cost. The corporate world has been grinding me down and I no longer have the passion required to do what has become a grind in the worst kind of way. I have always been driven. I came out of very humble beginnings, and got into my company through an apprenticeship at 17 years old. I went to school nights for 8 years, earning my Bachelor's degree, while working 40-60 hour weeks and taking care of a VERY sick mother, who passed before I graduated. I worked my way up through the ranks at my company, but have hit a stall. I don't blame just the company, because a lot of it is me as well. 


Ever since I was 3 years old, I wanted to be a chef. I was a weird kid, I spent all of my T.V. time watching cooking shows on public television, from a very young age. I started watching Food Network, when no one knew what it was. People thought it strange that a kid would want to spend his time watching cooking all the time. My father owned many restaurants, but closed his last one before I was old enough to work in it. I idolized my father's talent for cooking, and hung on his every move in the kitchen, but a divided house made it difficult to cook. My mother and brother liked to eat fried food, bland meat and potatoes, and not much else. My father and I would eat just about anything, but money was always so tight, we never had many ingredients in the house. We ate cube steak, American chop suey made with tomato soup, and breakfast for dinner. Every once in awhile we would eat a roast or a bird, but when my father left, our roasts and birds were dry, over done, and often picked over before carving. I loved my weekends at dad's house when he moved to the more rural area he lived in New Hampshire. We cooked together, all the time. I never knew I was learning anything different, but I cooked much different than most of my friends parents did. I picked up a lot of his restaurant experience without knowing it. I also had his constant badgering, begging and pleading to not go into the food business. I let him talk me out of it, and in high school I went into the trades. The trades have been good to me, and I earned a free education from my company. I make a decent salary, but this is not my ( I am not fond of the word), passion. When people at work say to their boss they are passionate about project management, I laugh inside, because, I think who the hell could be passionate about this?


Turns out they feel the same way. When I traveled to Asia in the spring, all of my travel partners found it so strange that I wanted to spend every spare minute shopping in food markets, food stores, and sampling foods. They said, it is just food. We eat because we have to, how can you possibly enjoy something so mundane, like wasting time cooking when you could be drinking, playing outside with kids, or watching TV? Because it is what I am truly passionate about. I let my dad talk me out of my dream, and I have resented him for it ever since. Although we share food as our only friendly thing in common, it also drives us apart. He wants me to stay where I am at, miserable but making money. When I spoke to him about getting another job because I have 14 years in my company and see my prospects drying up, he wanted no part of the conversation. If he ever found out I am looking at the food industry, it would break his heart. Honestly, he is a crotchety old bastard at 75, and will never be happy with any decision I make, so I am already passed that roadblock. I am going to choose my own path. I am not going to tell him until I am done with Culinary school.


I have been married for 5 years to an amazing woman, and we have been together for 13 years. Our common link is food and family. Her family has become mine, and they are a food and family type as well. We all cook together, drink together, and laugh together. I often cook many of the large meals on vacations, holidays, and weekends. When we rent a beach house for Memorial day, I spend all day and night, every day, cooking. It borders on insanity. This big bunch of loud and hilarious Italians have become my family and I am one of them. We have no kids, and my wife has been begging and pleading with me to go to Culinary school. I always wanted to go to Johnson and Wales in Providence, RI which is just south of me in MA. I work in Boston and live North of Boston, so the commute and long hours in the adult and continuing education program will be challenging, eating up weekends for a couple years. My wife, a friend of ours, and I have taken a few of their casual classes and I think it was her creative way to get me in their kitchen, which actually turned my pipe dream, into an actual possibility. She knew what she was doing there. She is truly a blessing and wants me to do something that makes me happy, because she would rather live poor and happy instead of miserable and rich. She is a finance superstar, so she is on the path to a long great career herself.


I would like to ask if any of you have gone through this mid life change? I realize I am only nearly 32, but I have been in the corporate grind since 17, starting really early. Has anyone gone to the J&W RI adult and continuing education program in the middle of another career? I cannot see myself doing what I am doing now, for the rest of my life, and at least want to go to school first. I have a good paying job to fall back on, and can finance the schooling no problem. One of the schools in Boston would be more convenient, but I am not sure about the comparison between JWU in RI and those TV commercial schools in Boston. 


A couple pictures of my home cooking. I know this is decent home cooking, but I want to learn how to do it right.





And finally a picture from my trip to China

post #2 of 4

I'm in a similar boat as you. I'm 33 and own a couple of gyms in addition to being a nutritional consultant for athletes and personal training. After 10-12 years of this I've just decided to go to culinary school and start pursuing something(what? I dont know) in that realm. My wife and I have 2 kids, both of us with full time jobs, and the commute to the school is about an hour and half BUT, sometimes you just have to do what feels right. I'm thankful that my wife is a saint and backs me up in anything I ever want to do. It sounds like you have a great support group around you, with her and her family. It also sounds like something you'll regret if you dont give it a shot. I wish you well in making the choice and starting the endeavor, sir

post #3 of 4

I'm in a similar situation - 36, been in tech for almost 20 years, came from meager beginnings, and have been contemplating a culinary career since I was a very small girl. I'm making the jump next year and I have to say I'm positively giddy at the thought of it. I'm not necessarily looking to work in restaurants for the long haul, though I do plan on spending a few years in the fray. For the long term, I've been building a writing career over the past six or so years and am likely going to stay in writing/teaching/cookbook authoring/professional recipe dev.


So yeah, you're not alone. :)

post #4 of 4

If you dont attempt it you just may regret it in the near future. 


My mother is aslo attempting a culinary degree , and so far so good. 

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



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


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