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Old 12-18-2004, 03:22 PM   #1
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Career as a chef?

Hi, I am thinking about getting in the Culinary Arts as a career and was wondering if the pay is good. I would love to become a chef after I am done with school. What are your opinons on Pastery Chefs? Is it hard to move ahead in that job, I am mainly concern with the financial aspect of it..will I be able to make atleast 30-40k out of college? Also where do you guys recommend me starting out, since I have little to no experience? Thanks in advance!

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Old 12-18-2004, 04:41 PM   #2
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Re: Career as a chef?

Quote:
Originally Posted by j-spec
Hi, I am thinking about getting in the Culinary Arts as a career and was wondering if the pay is good. I would love to become a chef after I am done with school. What are your opinons on Pastery Chefs? Is it hard to move ahead in that job, I am mainly concern with the financial aspect of it..will I be able to make atleast 30-40k out of college? Also where do you guys recommend me starting out, since I have little to no experience? Thanks in advance!
Welcome to Discuss cooking. I think the pay rate would depend on where you live. If you live in a large city, you will be paid more, however your living expenses will be higher. My best advice would be to try out some cooking courses first, before you commit to culinary arts as your major in college (since you said you have no experience). Make sure cooking is something you truly love to do, because if it is to be a career, you must enjoy it to be satisfied in the long run. If you love it, you will become good at it, then will be able to work your way up the ladder to a pastry chef. If your good, the money will come. I'm sure many others on here can tell you more. Good luck! Hope you achieve your goals.
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Old 12-18-2004, 04:55 PM   #3
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Great advice Amber.

Also I would work in a restaurant in your spare time, as an unpaid volunteer if need be.

Cooking is a tough way to make a living and you, j-spec, did not seem to express any real love for the profession.

I would suggest before you make a decision, you find out what being a cook/chef is all about.
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Old 12-18-2004, 06:08 PM   #4
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The pay scale in restaurants is notoriously low, unless you gain one of the top spots at a very high end restaurant.

The down sides to a career in the culinary arts, especially in the kitchen, are that it's backbreaking, stressful work (you've just gotten an order for oh, 50 desserts, each of which it usually takes 5 minutes to assemble!), long, weird hours, and having to deal with many types of 'dispositions' and personalities in the kitchen.

Having said that - if it's a passion, if it's truly in your heart, then you'll do anything to achieve that goal. There is nothing more satisfying than feeding people, making them happy, and the pride achieved in a job you've done well.

I don't know where you live - I'd check out food programs in your local tech colleges; or if you live close to a major culinary school, go and check them out. Get some experience in a restaurant, even if it's washing dishes. You can see a whole lot of what goes on in the kitchen from the dischwasher!

There are a huge array of culinary-oriented jobs outside of 'cheffing' in a restaurant kitchen; catering is a pretty profitable business; private cheffing also; there's food and beverage sales, restaurant management, and tons of 'ancillary' positions that are interesting and fun.
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Old 12-18-2004, 06:36 PM   #5
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stress sounds about correct. Pay depends on your experience and skill. I think i wouldn't mind stress and work if i become a chef
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Old 12-18-2004, 06:55 PM   #6
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Has anyone seen the show "Chef!" on BBC? Funny, but a bit more realistic than some would believe. I admire anyone who can endure that type of environment! 8)
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Old 12-18-2004, 07:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marmalady
The pay scale in restaurants is notoriously low, unless you gain one of the top spots at a very high end restaurant.

The down sides to a career in the culinary arts, especially in the kitchen, are that it's backbreaking, stressful work ... long, weird hours, and having to deal with many types of 'dispositions' and personalities in the kitchen ...
Get some experience in a restaurant, even if it's washing dishes.
Emphatically ditto this. Your status as underdog will garner you much hideous abuse from what marmalady diplomatically describes as 'many types of dispositions' in the kitchen. As she advises, get some experience in a restaurant kitchen before you plunk down any tuition money. Chain restaurants are always hiring. Scrambling eggs for the before-and-after-church crowd in a Cracker Barrel for a couple of months will educate you in many ways.

Don't focus on the pastry part at first, focus on the working-in-a-restaurant part. If you're lucky enough to hook up with a kitchen staffer who doesn't actively hate being there, make known your ambition; maybe you'll get lucky and s/he will throw you a tip or two between the madhouse rushes. If they don't kill you or laugh you out of the house first.

Get strong. You'll have to lift heavy things, like beef sides and BIG stockpots. If someone offers to teach you something and it doesn't have to do with pastry, accept the offer anyway.

Think about all the celebrity chefs you know of. Think how few of them are pastry chefs. Think about why.

If you want it badly enough, you'll do it. You won't let yourself be discouraged by the advice you get here or anywhere else. But the best thing you can do for yourself is know the reality of what it is you want, or think you want. And as luck would have it, the profession of chef offers many opportunities to learn the reality in a way that other professions don't. You can't practice at being a lawyer. You can practice at being a chef, get an idea of what you're buying into ... and they'll even pay you, even if it's wages that wouldn't keep a dog alive.

But hey, good luck! :)
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Old 12-18-2004, 09:40 PM   #8
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I have a relative who works for one of the best hotels in the world. It took him 20 years to reach a point where he was making real money. He loves the work, but you should have heard him when he was starting out. You would never guess that he was doing what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

BTW, just so you know. You can forget about being with your family on holidays unless the restaurant you're working at closes on those days. I never saw my cousin during the holidays because he was always working. Now that he's moved up high enough, he can take off on those days, but usually doesn't.
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Old 12-18-2004, 09:48 PM   #9
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Old 12-18-2004, 11:54 PM   #10
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I just typed you the longest message. It dissappeared. Can't do it all again. Good luck on your quest!
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