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Life After the Kitchen

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

Sounds like a new reality show.

Been in food service my entire adult life. CIA grad, 1996. Recently going through some serious health issues that will probably prevent me from returning to the kitchen. Fifty-two years old, can't go back to school. Thought about being a food writer/critic after culinary school. Also took some food styling classes many years ago. Tried my hand at sales for one of the big food service providers. Definitely not my thing. Wondering what my next step is.

post #2 of 22

I feel for you, man.  I'm 47 and while I've been lucky to have avoided any serious health issues I know it can't last forever.  There's no Plan B for me either; I've been in the kitchen since I was 14, don't know any other way to live my life.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #3 of 22

Sorry to hear about your health issues, best of luck brother.

 

Keep in mid that there are all kinds of kitchens out there. I'm in my mid fifties and I'm moving on myself. From turning and burning on the line to working at a long term health care facility. Maybe something similar could work for you?

 

The hourly pay is a little less but the benefits are better, the hours are predictable, the pace is consistent, it's stable (it's not like people are going to stop getting sick), and no more idiot teenage servers to deal with.

 

I'm told the lack of creativity is kind of a soul killer, but I help out with a friends catering business some weekends for that 

post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 


Thanks.

I did some time at a health care facility. It was a major change for me, better hours, slower pace, nicer clientele. Once I got passed the bland menu and lack of creativity, it really wasn't so bad.

My issue now, is that I may not be able to work in any kitchen again because of my health. I may need to find work in the food industry outside of the kitchen. 

post #5 of 22
No plan B here either. Shame of it is I love what I do, but I'm feeling old (50) too, and starting to question my sanity,

Funny enough, I took a break and went the healthcare route too... Agree to soul killing, I felt myself die inside, but no doubt appreciated the schedule and benefits.

Every time I swear I'll be found dead under a 50# bag of flour.

What about the wine/liquor side Frank? If anyone knows what tastes good with what, it's us!
post #6 of 22
I'm 51 and still daily in the kitchen but I also have a plan B. As a cancer survivor ( several years past) I released that my days were limited. I took the path of being an investor, mentor, inporter and distributor. I divested my restaurants, expanded my company to inport and distribution and went more contract and catering. I did and still do consider an additional option, education.

If physically you could teach then maybe a path of training the next generation could be the way to go.

Just a thought.

I wish you the best and good health and fortune.
post #7 of 22
For what it's worth I'm a western Pa boy myself. Cut my teeth in the 80's! at the Duquesne club. We probably chewed up some same ground at some point. Go New Castle.
post #8 of 22

Does anyone have any cash? I love Colombia. It's so very beautiful. But their food is garbage. They need some tacos and Chinese food badly. 

 

We could go down and make a killing just by serving street food on a cart. I have about 10 grand to invest, but I'm scared. It's a frightful thing to move to another country and open a business. I want to pull the trigger, but I guess doing it alone is just too much. 

post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 


Never thought about the wine/liquor side of the business. Never thought of myself as the wine guy. Something to look into, though. Unfortunately, at this moment in my life, because of my recent health issues, alcohol is off limits to me also. 

post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 


Brewdog, a little taqueria on the beach sounds like a fantastic idea. I would like nothing more than creating flavorful tacos and serving them in a relaxed atmosphere. Why Colombia? Do you have ties down there? Maybe a little closer to home. Tell me more.

post #11 of 22
I'm a 33 year old chef. Iv spent my life wondering if chasing this dream is actually worth it? But there is something that makes me not want to stop. I have physical attributes that will work against me once I hit at least 40. I have been thinking about my next step as well. The intensity and passion will be the one thing I will miss. Although I am the last of a dieing breed. Iv been raised by some of the best but at some point when do you walk away from it?
post #12 of 22
Last of a dying breed??

I'm in my mid 20's and start work 45-60 minutes before I clock in, just about everyday. I consistently am helping others with there work and rarely even take a shift meal; a break (on or off the clock) is not in my vocabulary.

I work with others my age or younger with 3 line cook jobs, 80-90 hours a week. ...

I think this is how this industry is defined and how it will continue for a while....
Albeit; I have a friend my age who routinely takes home $200 or more in a 10 hour shift, mostly in cash on the spot...
post #13 of 22
As an owner I have to ask why you start working 45 to 60 minutes before you clock in?
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 


Yes, owners would not understand.

Sometimes we feel that the minute we clock in, we are behind. So we start early to make up for it. I don't know when it started, but I have been doing it as long as have been cooking. It's just a way to stay ahead of the game. 

post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirtywaterfrank View Post

 

Yes, owners would not understand.

Sometimes we feel that the minute we clock in, we are behind. So we start early to make up for it. I don't know when it started, but I have been doing it as long as have been cooking. It's just a way to stay ahead of the game. 

 

Some owners (that rose up among the ranks) understand the mentality but that doesn't mean that they agree with it or feel it is necessary. I knew how long each and every job in my restaurant took because at some point I had done it myself. I didn't expect everyone to be as quick as I might be at it, so I always factored extra time to accomplish the tasks required.

 

If someone didn't feel that enough time was allowed to properly do the job it was due to one or two (or a combination of the two) reasons. Reason number one, they were inefficient. Reason number two, they wanted to be more ahead of the game than I did and product got wasted.

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 #16 of 22
Well before I was an owner I was an employee, and it's up to the management/owner to schedule to meet the needs of the business. To expect/continue to permit hourly employees to work off the clock is unethical to say the least and illegal in any case that I can think of.

If you're working 80 plus hours a week plus another hour a day for free, without meals or a break then you're not doing yourself or anyone other than than the owner any favors. Quite frankly it's owners that should be caring for our personal b
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lagom View Post

Well before I was an owner I was an employee,

 

What??? You mean at some point you actually worked!!! :eek: 

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 #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheflayne View Post

What??? You mean at some point you actually worked!!! eek.gif  

The good old days when I did my 12 hours and was done for the day. Now I'm on duty 24/7. 😒
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by kettle chef View Post

I'm a 33 year old chef. Iv spent my life wondering if chasing this dream is actually worth it? But there is something that makes me not want to stop. I have physical attributes that will work against me once I hit at least 40. I have been thinking about my next step as well. The intensity and passion will be the one thing I will miss. Although I am the last of a dieing breed. Iv been raised by some of the best but at some point when do you walk away from it?

Hello kettle chef and welcome to ChefTalk.

Physical attributes will work against you once you hit 40?

Is that the magic number.....?

 

Heck, I'm at 61 with health issues from working those long shifts on bad floors and arthritis.

I am stiff each morning and must stretch if I'm ever going to make it through the day.

Facing back surgery down the road but for now I just keep on keepin' on.

post #20 of 22
I'm actually feeling a bit better about my physical condition! My friends are always telling me that I'm too young to be feeling this old and incapacitated and I tend to agree when I wake up and go through the laundry list of aches and pains and websites for special orthotics...
Seems I'm right on schedule for the industry average
And we do this why? Lol
post #21 of 22

Going through a bit of this myself.  I've had issues with one of my knees for years, on and off, and it's getting to the point (again) where being on my feet all day is excruciating.  Here's hoping the next Dr visit will come with some better answers...

 

Really struggling with the idea of switching directions career-wise, if it comes to that. 

post #22 of 22

Stepping up on the soapbox...

 

I do believe, we,as professionals have a chance to steer the food business into the future with our combined experiences and knowledge.

 

That being said, owners and investors look at the young and ignore the old.

The young can be exploited and paid cheaper, while the older more experienced are prone to health issues and want more pay.

 

If we are going to make a difference at this moment in time, now is the time to act.

 

To old to work in a kitchen anymore pulling 12-14 hour days is all fine and good, but all that knowledge should not go to rot.

Can't afford to retire and must keep working?

 

There are other options that will allow you to enjoy our art while still maintaining a descent life.

 

Investing in the future can mean things like getting involved in the local technical college that has a culinary school. Go ask to give a speech.

 

Ask to volunteer at a school. Write articles about restaurant life from your experiences and get them published.

 

Join an ACF chapter in your area and use your experience as proof of your career. Offer to give seminars.

 

Do what you can to help educate young people about our industry.

 

PLEASE don't let your career offer nothing for the future of our industry.

 

I'm stepping down now.......

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