Just chiming in and giving my 2 cents.
First no one wakes up a chef. Usually 99.9% of the time (unless your rich and become an owner) you have to go up the ladder to become a chef.
This means that you either start washing dishes, or start working in a different position (such as a line cook) and attempt to work your way up. You usually become a chef after working a few years in the business, after accumalating knowledge, or after basically showing your worth.
So before you become a chef you have to attempt to work in the business, attempt to cook, attempt to grow.
I also say this, since your profile states "you can´t boil water" because I think that someone who has some intention of joining the industry should at least have to hands-on experience, that or already have an interest and enough instinct to attempt to cook something (be that at home if you will).
Now as for your questions....
Originally Posted by juicyjuicyx
1. first and mosten important question to me is, obviously its a hard job with rough working hours but i was wondering if you are off/free in the evenings? I do martial arts and its the love of my life really and i wouldnt want to abandon it for anything not even for this job.
2. im currently in europe but i would very much like to explore different cuisines (If i'm really gonna be a chef that is) and work in different countries.(Japan being my favorite)
3. Is it hard as a chef to get jobs in foreign lands? i.e Japan
4. The pay is obviously not that great compared to other jobs, is it enough to live comfortably and have hobbies?
1) Okay this depends completely on the restaurant you work at. Maybe you can work in a place that only serves lunch, or only has you working 1 shift. So yes you can end up not having to work in the evenings. But like you said, its a tough job with tough hours, so maybe one day you may have to work a double shift, you´ll take longer to close the kitchen because of last minute clients or because the rush was a long one on a certain day. Anyway yes you can get a few hours off during the evenings, but it´s a tough job. Usually you don´t leave work with the feeling of wanting to go to the gym or work out. I have 2 black belts, and basically after i started cooking I never continued making progress with martial arts or doing a lot of exercising in general, because the kitchen itself is a pretty big work out. I have had free time during evenings, but i was physically incapable of forcing myself to exercise after service, because i would leave work tired.
2) Okay cooks technically can work in kitchens all over the world, but theres bureaucracy. If you want to work legally then you have to go trough transitions involving consulates, immigration etc. Anyone can travel the world taste, and study different cuisines, now to work legally in a kitchen in another country, that requires going through legal processes. If you are working illegally, you could face problems in the future involving the country´s authorities. Not only working though, we are talking about residing temporarily or permanently in a country that will require you to go through many transitions and processes. So if you really have your hopes set on Japan, be aware of the laws and legal processes in that country.
3) I think the 2nd answer basically sums it up. Depends on the country you want to go, where you were born, and how good of a chef you are.
4) Not everyone that works in the industry is dirt poor. The pay in some places isn´t that great, the pay in others can be amazing. This all depends on how good of a cook you are, where you are working, your resume, if your worth the salary, what type of environment you work in. Maybe you work in a corparate environment, maybe inside a company/factory, maybe a fancy restaurant, maybe a chain restaurant, different factors effect your salary.
I have worked in fancy places where i would only work 4-5 days a week and would have 2-3 days off and still make great pay. I have worked like a dog in other places and barely made enough to survive.
You have to know your limits, have your goals, and know what its worth to you.
If a restaurant with a great reputation is offering a job, but the salary isnt that great do you take the job because you want to build a resume and work in that type of environment, or do you move ahead and seek something lack luster and less fufilling because of money?
That is stictly on you.
Now something else, before you get all excitied and think you have realized you lifes calling, i say.... "go work in a kitchen".
Go work in a kitchen, get some experience, go and cook, face the rush, experience what it´s like to be in the weeds. Go deal with the personality of other people in the same environment, go make fabulous food, go and have a taste of what it´s like to work in the business.
Try it for a month or two and then consider you feelings and see if "being a cook" is what you really want.
Because the majority of us before considering becoming chefs we started as cooks.
The majority who became chefs started as cooks.
Many people who entered the industry started washing dishes before tossing salads.
I think you can´t really know if you want to work and progress in the industry if you haven´t gotten the actual opportunity to work in the industry.