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28 yrs old, want to be a chef

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

hey guys, i know i posted before how crazy i am to want to be a chef. i'm 28 and love food. turning 29 this year tho. (getting older now). so i've broken up my dilemma of wanting to be a chef into clear ideas, hopefully, that can be easily understood by you guys so I can get a better second opinion. so here they are:

 

-i want to be a chef because i want to be able to produce amazing food that will put smiles on peoples face everywhere

-i want to be a chef because i love food and love how it can surprise and change peoples moods and ideas

-i want to be a chef because i feel cooking is the only honest career left in the world

 

now for the negatives:

 

-i dont want to be a chef because i will forever be chasing the next paycheck and never be able to afford a house

-i dont want to be a chef because i am way past the age mark where people are fine tuning their skills. (most chefs my age are on their way to owning a restaurant or competing professionally, basically what i would eventually get by maybe age 40, they already have now at my same age of 28)

-i dont want to be a chef because i will never be able to afford my own restaurant

 

 

in the end, i feel like if i choose the chef path right now i will forever be behind everyone else who started when they were 18. my understanding of food is deep however, i've read books, cooked almost every dish you've probably seen on tv, tried molecular gastronomy to an extent, even use a sous-vide every other week for a steak or fish or braise or what have you. it's not like i'm not aware, but i just dont know if i'm capable to keep up and catch up is what i'm trying to say, as far as a restaurant chef type of environment goes.  i believe i can do it, i will suffer if that means i can attain chefdom faster, i dont want to rush it, but i do want it as quickly feasibly possible due to age constraints and basically overall i want to be a chef by 35 just like every other chef that's worked for it.  i feel like other real chefs that are in their 30s that worked for it for years would be pissed off if i was able to achieve this by 35 (i'm 28 now so that would be 7 yrs or so, when in contrast those chefs have been cooking for almost double that amount of time.) i dont know what else i may need to mention to get a specific answer for my case, but i just feel like i've posted this question before and only got answers like "you can do it" and "it's all up to you" but i really want an honest clear cut pro and con from a real restaurant chef's perspective of what can and cannot be achieved. as you can already tell probably, i love food and esp new ingredients i've never used.  cooking to me started as an outlet and then became a passion since i was 15 yrs old. i'm not saying i'm the best home cook at the moment, but i am a decent one at that. i could definately give a similar home cook a run for their money, not that all home cooks are worse than me, although some may be. home cooks in general are a very undermined group that may surprise even the fanciest of chefs. anyway, i hope i didnt run my point into the ground and kill it.  thanks again guys. i wish you all well. and if your like me, make sure to keep cooking because you never know if that office job you already have will be the end of it all. you just never know.

 

my other idea that's been on my mind is a food writer or maybe working for zagat? i would ultimately want to be a food critic above all else in the end if that was an option, otherwise restaurant owner or food writer would suffice. i just want to work with food on a substantial level and not just at the mom and pop one.

post #2 of 14

Though not a professional chef, I am pretty much in the same boat you are. For a while I stayed in the construction industry just chasing money until the economy forced the company I worked for to shut down. I joined culinary school last semester at age 28 and am now 29 on my second semester working as a prep cook in a restaurant downtown and could not be happier. It basically comes down to whether you would like to make a lot of money or be happy following your passion, or at least in my case. This industry is also one where you can advance very quickly if you work hard and have talent. I have a friend who has maybe been cooking a year and the owner and head chef in his restaurant is talking about having him be the head chef of a new restaurant he is opening in another location. That is an unusual circumstance but the possibility is out there to make the kind of money to live very comfortably. For me it came down to whether I just want to keep trudging through life making good money but basically being unhappy, or whether I wanted to follow my passion. I've made my decision now and could not be happier, you just have to decide what is right for you and whether your willing to follow your dream or fall in line.

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

this is an awesome response. i am so grateful for your advise and honesty.  we are in the same boat like you said, jump in or fall in line. i totally agree. i'm making okay money (not exactly but i'm surviving), and i think i'd rather make the same or less cooking. i think i have my answer. thanks man. you're the nail in my coffin --in a good way.

post #4 of 14

I have just got my first Michelin starred job as a Chef de Partie and I think I can offer an opinion on your situation. I consider myself to have started late, it crops up all the time for me where a person a year or so younger than me is way ahead. I'm 23 now and I have been cooking for less than 3 years including my training. I think It comes down to two things:

 

1. There is an obvious age issue in a kitchen. Not many chefs are working 80 hours a week past their 35th birthday unless they own the place. That's not just the physicality of the job but also because of the commitment it takes. For example very few professional chefs at a decent level have children whilst they are still cooking, So you will have to bear that in mind if you want a 'normal' life any time soon.

 

2. The second point is plainly down to your attitude. I don't think I've met anybody who would care about your age once you get yourself into a position where you know enough to get by. there are a lot of 'dossers' that it will probably only take you 3 years to overtake, so in 4 years you could expect to be better than 50% of chefs your age if your pushing it to the max. But don't expect any leg ups because of your age. you will have to fight it out with the 18 year olds initially, maybe some of them will even be your senior, and your sous (which is at least 5 years away if your working harder than 99% of chefs) may only be 25. If you can deal with that, then go for it man, its a great life. I love it. 

 

Good luck and work hard.

post #5 of 14

It is all what you make of it.   I'm 28 and a chef.  I didn't go to culinary school, but I have loved cooking ever since I could see over the stove.    I had worked FOH a little at a few places in the past, but never thought about cooking professionally, even though many people said I should.  Eventually, I got into a spot and needed employment quickly, and took a job as a dishwasher.  I worked up to cooking on the line after a few months, and two years later I am where I am.    

 

   Side note:  I have two roommates, no car, no girlfriend, and only see my friends and family about once every few months. Food is my life.   The trade-off is that I have cut/burn scars all over my hands and forearms which make me look totally badass, and I can take my pick of pretty much any server at any restaurant around here and bring them home for the night.  Also, there are usually free drinks at some point at work.  Restaurant life isn't for everyone, but if you can make it work, it won't be a boring job.

post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by dsplayname View Post
 

It is all what you make of it.   I'm 28 and a chef.  I didn't go to culinary school, but I have loved cooking ever since I could see over the stove.    I had worked FOH a little at a few places in the past, but never thought about cooking professionally, even though many people said I should.  Eventually, I got into a spot and needed employment quickly, and took a job as a dishwasher.  I worked up to cooking on the line after a few months, and two years later I am where I am.    

 

   Side note:  I have two roommates, no car, no girlfriend, and only see my friends and family about once every few months. Food is my life.   The trade-off is that I have cut/burn scars all over my hands and forearms which make me look totally badass, and I can take my pick of pretty much any server at any restaurant around here and bring them home for the night.  Also, there are usually free drinks at some point at work.  Restaurant life isn't for everyone, but if you can make it work, it won't be a boring job.

Okay...

Do not take this literally, because the above is not a rule in the industry. 

IMO, everyone in the industry lives the life they choose, and some sacrifice a lot and recieve little reward. Some risk less and recieve nothing, and some take risks and have high rewards. 

Working in the industry is tough, and i wont lie, its not for everyone, BUT!! If you love food, have a strong work ethic, you are willing to work hard, take orders then you will be fine. Not everyone who works in this industry is a single dude, banging the female or male servers after work...

Some people in the industry have children, families, partners, relatives, and social lives, they just have to know how to balance, hell you may not get a weekend off, but maybe you might get monday or tuesday, and then you just have to appreciate as much as possible now wont you. 

Just because your a line cook doesnt mean you cant have a car, (maybe nothing extravagant but better then taking the bus), and it certainly doesnt mean you will live off rent your whole life. 

 

My advice if you want to work the industry, take the leap, because in my opinion after 6 months in a restaurant you will realize if the life is for you or not. Dont take the advice of others, because everyone thinks differently and lives different situations. 

What we went through may not be what you will go through, the only way you will recieve an answer and determine you path is by testing yourself and jumping head first. 

Find a job, work, and attempt to enjoy the ride for 6 months. If you tolerated it well, and didnt mind the long hours in a hot kitchen hell keep going, after a year or 2 switch restaurants seek new knowledge, learn no things, experience different foods, and dont look back on what you could have, would have, or should have, if you are doing what you love you wont feel regret. 

 

Your 28, curious, and in my opinion you have nothing to lose. Work hard, set some goals on what you want to accomplish in 5 years. And never lose sight of you objectives, and dreams. If you love the industry or learn to love it, you will be able to balance both, it make take time (a lot of time) but it may just be worth it. 

 

I read your list of pros and cons and honestly, do some research, not everyone who owns a restaurant had inherited cash from dead relatives or had a rich mom or dad paying their bills, some people worked hard, and some got lucky, you know what most have in comman 99% of the time? THEY HAVE GOALS, they are hard workers, they sacrificed and risked a lot and it paid off. 

Who said you cant buy a house, a loft, an apartement?

Who said you will be broke?

Who said you will never have your own restaurant?

If thats your dream and those are you goals, i feel you should at least fight for them before giving up on them with out the slightest attempt. 

 

This forum is living proof that their are chefs and cooks who started late (some even in their 40), and couldnt be happier with their career and what they are doing now. 

Some members here work in the industry have children, have their own homes, have cars, and have restaurants, and some even started later in the industry, some work doing catering, some have private businesses, some are bosses, etc...

I dont see any excuse on why you shouldnt give it a try, its the least you can do...;) 


Edited by KaiqueKuisine - 7/31/14 at 8:23pm

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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post #7 of 14

:thumb: KK!! exactly like that.

post #8 of 14

There is a lot of talk in the industry about having to put in your dues as a line cook before you can become a Chef and to a certain extent it's true. What you have to realize Dues dosen't mean time in a kitchen Dues means sweat in a kitchen. I've been working in kitchens since I was 13 I'm 28 now as well and I'm an Executive Sous Chef for a National top 200 Hotel. I have guys in their 50's working for me who have been working in kitchens since they were 13 and they're still cook 1's.  Ambition, work ethic, passion for food and ability to adapt and work with people is what will make you a great chef. Time is important as well because it takes time to learn, but all the time in the world won't help you if you don't have the other things. If you have that much love for food and want to be a chef then be a chef we will only judge you on the things you do in a kitchen not how long you've been there.

Kill Em All Chef  

post #9 of 14
I don't think you can find me a 50 year old chef putting in 65+ hours in a kitchen that's worth working in. I'll stand by it. Great comments Kaike but I have met only a special few with family in kitchens. And it means they can't give it 100% which is what the kitchen demands if you ate to get anywhere.
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Rawson View Post

I don't think you can find me a 50 year old chef putting in 65+ hours in a kitchen that's worth working in. I'll stand by it. Great comments Kaike but I have met only a special few with family in kitchens. And it means they can't give it 100% which is what the kitchen demands if you ate to get anywhere.
Kaique
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Rawson View Post

I don't think you can find me a 50 year old chef putting in 65+ hours in a kitchen that's worth working in. I'll stand by it. Great comments Kaike but I have met only a special few with family in kitchens. And it means they can't give it 100% which is what the kitchen demands if you ate to get anywhere.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KaiqueKuisine View Post
 

Okay...

Do not take this literally, because the above is not a rule in the industry. 

 

For your information their are plenty of chefs in this forum in their near 50´s and some over 50 still working in the industry. 

One of the first cooks i have worked with was 46... and she doesnt plan on stopping. Another cook was way past 45, with over 14 years of experience. 

Age is nothing more then a number, if you can work just as fast or faster, work clean, and have the passion and will, its not something thats going to stop you. 

Sure when your old or of higher age you tend to get higher, but im pretty sure i can find you a handful of chefs in the industry over 50, putting in long hours, in great kitchens...

Some are the owners, some are chefs, and some are just line cooks.

Got any doubts talk to soesje... she is (not gonna reveal age here), and seems to be a pretty great line cook in my opinion. And she´s dedicated too.. 

 

Hint: Usually the older ones with more experience have pretty good amount of knowledge to pass down, you will be shocked seeing how some of them work... ;) 

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

Dr.Seuss

Reply

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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post #12 of 14
If you don't know any 50+ year old chefs putting in 60-80 hours per week, and even doing it well, then you haven't been in the industry long enough. They are everywhere.

As for the late start, its just a matter of the right amount of commitment mixed with the right amount of talent. It is EASY to move ahead fast in the food service industry because most kitchens are full of f'ups who put the party ahead of their career. It simply requires making the commitment to your career and putting your immediate desires on the back burner. I have no degree. I cooked, I waited tables and managed while still living the party life. Then one day I was offered an opportunity to be an operating partner in a management company. It required me making the decision that the food industry was going to be my chosen career and not just something I did because it was fun. I made that commitment and advancement started getting easier and easier. I haven't been with that company for a long time, but the doors started opening when I made that commitment, and I advanced quickly because most the people around me were too caught up in the party to get the jobs I went after, or to spend their spare time learning the skills to open their own business.

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

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Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

Reply
post #13 of 14

did someone mention my name? lol…..

yes, age is just a number.

anyone who is passionate, willing and driven, can develop to the level where they want to be.

I'm one of those and proof of it.

not meaning that I am quite "there" yet where I want to be but sure getting closer to my goals!

 

major reason why kitchens usually take on young people in their 20's say, is just because they are cheaper.

I have seen enough of them to know that just being young is not enough to make it in the end.

aside from that, it's all about being a fit in the team and just work together and get things done.

it's just that what you need and there age does not matter…….we all are after the same goal at the end of the day.

happy customers.

post #14 of 14

In my opinion.

 

To be a chef you just need to be true to yourself and learn, learn, learn all the time. Always be in mind about your position of food maker, bringing the life energy.

 

Living and fame are consequences of your life and choices, everybody has the right to become prosperous in life, you just need to find out where is your jackpot.

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