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Sep 16, 2010 10:43 PM

For those of you that love chef shows...

Would you ever change your career to go into the food industry? I'm almost 30, in a decent paying job, but I don't love it. I'm not exceedingly happy when I go to work, I do healthcare, so totally opposite from the food industry and all that it entails. Anyway, just wanted to know what career options are out there for someone who loves to watch these shows, loves to cook, but kinda in limbo as for what i should do. I don't know if my interest is just a nice hobby or could make a great career. I guess I just would like a little inspiration and creativity where I feel that my current career is lacking. thoughts?

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  1. Don't quit your day job.
    Are you willing to work weekends, nights, holidays for little or no benefits?
    Food industry is tough work and isn't for everyone.

    2 Replies
    1. re: monku

      I work nights, weekends, and holidays. But I do get benefits. I guess there's not a lot of money in food blogging or writing is there?

      1. re: porkbutt03

        "I guess there's not a lot of money in food blogging or writing is there?"
        I don't know about that, but I guess you could try it in your free time.

        I got out of the restaurant business at 30. Managed restaurants for 7 years and never regretted leaving the industry.

        I know people who have been nipped by the Food TV bug and went to culinary schools and ended up with debt and start at a $10/hour job in a restaurant working nights, weekends and holidays without showing any of their creativity. Maybe it could be different for you.

        You have a decent paying job now, I don't think you'd say the same about the food industry for quite some time.

    2. Get yourself a stage (unpaid work) at a local restaurant. Don't quit your job - just try pulling 60-80 hours a week for a while and see if working in a restaurant still seems like fun. Long hours are common in the industry. That's a serious suggestion, BTW. You might love it- hard work, mindless repetition, low pay and all.

      Some of my best friends are in the restaurant business. They love it, but they didn't quit good-paying jobs at 30 to get in either.

      Personally, I love cooking and I'm decent at it, but there's no way I'd get into the restaurant business.

      Quote: "I guess there's not a lot of money in food blogging or writing is there?"

      There is for some. Getting a bit of that money is the tricky part. If I could help you here, I'd already be doing it myself. I suspect personal connections help.

      3 Replies
      1. re: cowboyardee

        I've been wondering the same thing as the poster. I've run out of my unemployment, been trying to "think out of the box" as far as making a living. I'm a very decent home cook. BUT -
        I'm 53 years old, have never worked in the restaurant business, and I don't have a lot of energy to begin with.
        I think I know what the answer would be whether I would be good in the restaurant business or not!

        1. re: aurora50

          I cooked professionally and managed kitchens for 20 years. I took a job as a waiter and got a degree and joined the real world. I loved it while I did it, but at 49, my knees aren't up to 14 - 16 hour days. And my paycheck is a lot bigger than when I was in the biz.

          If you're 53 without a lot of energy, the restaurant biz is not for you.

          1. re: chileheadmike

            Anthony Bourdain addressed this question in his latest book, "Medium Raw." Basically, he said the same thing which you did, Chile Head Mike. At least for cooks, if you are over 30, he does not recommend getting into the restaurant business.

        1. As far as a career move, I think to switch to the food industry when you have a solid career going (and one that has benefits!) is a poor decision. Especially in the current economical climate.
          I think food/chef tv shows have seriously romanticized professional cooking.
          Professional cooking also isn't something you jump into w/o expecting to put in many years of grueling hours for little pay, in the name of experience. I have a culinary degree, working towards a bachelors in culinary management and I've made peanuts for the past few years. My only saving grace is a spouse who makes enough to cover our bills. It's purely a labor of love for me and tbh, I'd probably end up hating and resenting it if I had to depend on it as a source of income.

          I'd say, keep being a foodie as a hobby.

          1. Anthony Bourdain wrote a chapter in his new book Medium Raw addressing people thinking about switching careers to the restaurant industry. I'll summarize his main point: don't do it!

            3 Replies
            1. re: Nicole

              I was collecting unemployment and had a severance package a few years back. I decided to go to culinary school. While there I started having doubts, it was reading kitchen confidential that assured me I did NOT want to pursue this career.

              1. re: Nicole

                If everyone who read that chapter didn't do it....we wouldn't have any future culinary superstars....i have worked in kitchens off and on for 20 years and yes, it takes a special person to work in one...are you that person? You don't know until you try it for at least one solid year!!!!

                1. re: Nicole

                  I'd also recommend reading Heat, or, to use its full title, Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford.