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Is becoming a chef a good career choice?


Have you ever began to day dream at home while you prepare dinner for yourself and your family the romantic aspiration of maybe someday owning your own restaurant, thinking about the menu you would carefully construct, the careful arrangement of a solid interior design, a wicked stainless steel kitchen with burners, deep fryers and CHOP CHOPING galore. More than anything else though, even going behind the pride of creating impressive culinary creations, you want to make a big, fat wad of cash since chefs are a rich, hard working bunch of craftsmen.

From experience, I can tell you that out of those 3 descriptive details of what a chef looks like they are definitely hard working, most are true craftsmen but that leaves our last point that needs to be discussed...... If you want to get rich by becoming a chef you are suffering delusions caused by watching the food network too much! Let me lay out the real goods! First you would need to go to a reputable culinary school to get your foundation in cooking (some don't but this will delay your process by several years as you will be pearl diving in the dish pit for quite some time otherwise!) There you will learn to sharpen your knife, pan fry, sauté, braise, the whole works! Then after that you will go in one of many different directions but if you want to become a chef that actually CREATES then fine dining is the route you would tread. A warning though, I find the FINER a restaurant is, the worst it treats it's junior kitchen team. Here you will more than likely enter into the kitchen as a COMMIS (lowest on the totem pole) and do menial tasks like peeling carrots and de-veining prawns for a few months.

Eventually you will be allowed to plate food in the cold department but watch out! If you screw up you will have a plate on your lap and the hot breath of a pre-Madonna chef who's ego is bigger than gangster rap. If you do well and don't get fired by this point you will slowly move from station to station depending on whether you have a good relationship with the chef and the team. This is challenging at times because your superiors usually have the maturity level of a high school locker room mentality (I guess this makes sense since kitchens in these realms usually have very young people working in lower positions, why??? because they are cheap!) If you are lucky and work very hard you may become the sous chef and do the all the work that a chef should be doing but at about half the pay. Eventually at the pinnacle of your dedication, missing holidays, anniversaries, being late for the birth of your first child because the line was busy and no one could replace you and so forth, you are finally able to become the restaurants head chef (because the old one was either fired for incompetence or a drinking problem) and are able to create the menu, work ungodly hours and babysit the most unreliable sector of the workforce known to man.

Finally for all of your hard work and dedication you receive your first check, only to find out it is still significantly lower than a journeyman of any other trade (just compare average wages of chefs, plumbers and HVAC, you will be surprised!) Now as negative as I make it sound (I guess I am just trying to shatter an idealistic picture of the chefing life!) I personally love to cook and I had great times working in kitchens despite all of the nonsense and politics that accompany day to day routines on the line. And I have to admit I learned some pretty cool skills that are extremely practical, not something every career can say! I should also comment that some chef do make big money but those that do make the big bucks either LITERALLY work 24/7 or become a celebrity chef which requires a long road of hard work to achieve it in itself. Just look at Gordon Ramsay, that guy has more stress wrinkles in his face that a hostage negotiator. He may be rich but trust me, he put his time in.

In conclusion, Is cooking a good career choice??? Yes and No, It depends what you want in life? If you want good relationships with family and friends, lots of money and lots of leisure time then this career is probably not for you.

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