Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Think you have what it takes?

It makes me uncomfortable when people call me "Chef." My skin outright crawls. The Chef is the head of the kitchen, the lynch pin holding the entire crew together -- it takes people decades to earn that position and I maybe never will. Rather, I hope I never will. I have never been the boss of anyone; sometimes I pretend I'm the boss of my cat, but he won't even fall for that. I'm best at being boss of myself, and that's all I could ever hope for.

I'm writing this post for anyone who is considering going to culinary school. The average cost for a culinary degree is around $40,000. For $60,000 you could get a business degree and get a job making $70,000 a year. Most cooks make under $30,000. Hell, most have to work a second job just to pay rent. I don't regret getting my culinary degree -- not entirely anyway. I do regret the debt I'm in now. I also regret not weighing in my options. I went to culinary school on a whim, thinking that as an artist I could apply my skills to cake decorating and make those $4,000 cakes you see at the weddings of people who just don't know any better. But unless you own your business, you just wind up getting paid $10 an hour to make those cakes for someone else to profit from. I'm not even a cook anymore; I'm a server. I can't name the restaurant I work at, let's just say when you eat there you're "family." This blog is the meager beginning of what I hope will be my own business. In my future I see sponsors for my blog, cookbooks, and eventually a very nice, quiet bake shop to call my own. It all will take a lot of work and a very long time. That's something they didn't tell us in culinary school -- and they won't tell you either. In fact, they may even promise you a job when you graduate. Trust me, it's not true. You have to make your own way, which is why I am giving you this small bit of advice: if you have any other passion -- the vision of any other path in your line of view, take that and run with it. Don't wind up $40,000 in debt wondering if you would been a great librarian or veterinarian. Be certain. And if you are, then good luck to you. I look forward to eating at your restaurant.

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