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Old 04-06-2011, 10:20 AM   #1
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Will I ever become a restaurateur?

I'm 26. Like many people, at this point of my life I'm still looking for the right career for myself. Currently I'm a network engineer doing consulting work. Is it my right choice? I don't know, because

1. I feel I still have a lot of potential to develop certain skills, especially people skills, so even though right now I'm a bit lacking on that I might become better later - or not.
2. In general, nowadays very few people's first job becomes their life-long career. So expect myself to switch later on.

If you ask me where my passion is, I say it's cooking. I have a dream of owning my restaurants and cooking out unique style dishes for people. Everyday my most anticipated activity is cooking dinner. But, I have the following issues:

1. I never had any formal training on cooking, and there is no "family recipe" since nobody in my family is good cook (except my late grandfather whose career was a chef, but I didn't get to learn anything from him). Besides the little experience I got from cooking since 16, I learned mostly everything from Alton Brown.

2. I will have to provide a stable life for my wife and upcoming daughter in a couple of months. So I will need to constantly have a well-paid job that matches up my current salary, in order to feed my family (my wife doesn't work because she wants to watch over the baby). This rules out any possibility of going to a cooking school, and abandoning my current job and trying to work as a chef with no prior experience while hoping to keep the same salary is also impossible.

3. Being an immigrant, I have no family heritage (money, that is) to fund a business.

4. I have this... thing... against dessert. I just don't like eating dessert or cooking it. I'm more of a savory guy.

5. I can't define a cooking style for myself (as in Italian, French, Southern Comfort, Asian, etc.). My cooking is all over the world, from northpole to southpole, I like eating and cooking all of their dishes. So I don't have a specialty... If I have to pick one, I'm very interested in northeastern european cuisine. I have been to places like Austria and Czech republic, and had friends with Polish origin, and I can tell you they have very darn tasty dishes that many Americans don't know of. BUT, like I mentioned earlier, I do not have any family recipe to use, so even if I try really hard and come up with my own recipe, it'll probably be very comic and unauthentic.

So I don't know where to start... and I don't even know if I'm destined to cook professionally or just as a hobby... So I'm sad :/

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Old 04-06-2011, 10:33 AM   #2
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I think most people who like to cook have at some time thought about becoming a restaurant owner. I know I have. However, I concluded that a restaurant is not about cooking, but about business. I already had a business, so left cooking as it was, a hobby.

Perhaps Vera Blue could relate her experiences as a restaurateur, as she is one who recently took the plunge, and appears to have done it right.
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Old 04-06-2011, 10:35 AM   #3
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First of all, you're not alone. Many have the same issues at that stage of life. I was a corporate accountant and wanted to open an ice cream shop or a Burger King franchise. Because of the financial demands of a non-working wife and two children (and no family support for the idea) I never did it and retired from a corporate position.

It may be rationalization but don't think I'd enjoy running a restaurant, although I have fantasized about it a bit. The primary reason is that I love to cook but don't want to be pressured to cook. The demands of a busy commercial kitchen would take the fun out pf cooking for me.

As a result, I experiment and create at home when I want to. And when I don't want to, I defrost something or order take-out. Can't do that if you are running a restaurant.

Look into taking a weekend course at a cooking school. See if you like what's happening. Talk to a chef about the demands of running a restaurant. Do the research to flesh out your dream. Maybe you can find a less demanding food related outlet to satisfy your desires.
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Old 04-06-2011, 10:36 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigjim68 View Post
I think most people who like to cook have at some time thought about becoming a restaurant owner. I know I have. However, I concluded that a restaurant is not about cooking, but about business. I already had a business, so left cooking as it was, a hobby.

Perhaps Vera Blue could relate her experiences as a restaurateur, as she is one who recently took the plunge, and appears to have done it right.
yea once your restaurant is up and running you'll be out of the kitchen forever. but that's ok, management is a part of every job you do and having a subject I like will be a great motivation. I have a friend who's been a taxi driver for many years, and now at age of over 50 he started his bagel shop, fulfilling his life long dream.
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Old 04-06-2011, 12:13 PM   #5
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Like in any other passion driven business ventures you need to separate hobby from business. Many successful restaurant owners can't cook jack for the most part, they hire cooks with years of restaurant experience. They need to concentrate on business operations.
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Old 04-06-2011, 02:05 PM   #6
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I know what it takes to run a restaurant and fast paced restaurant chef job is not what I want to do either. however I just want to bring my idea to life and serve people my creation and earn recognition. don't know how I can achieve that
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Old 04-07-2011, 03:14 PM   #7
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I think Andy's suggestion of a weekend cooking course is great.

Have you thought of other things to do to earn money with your passion for cooking? E.g., write a cookbook, catering - private or for restaurants or shops. I'm sure there are other ideas that could be started part time, while you keep your current job.
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Old 04-07-2011, 03:37 PM   #8
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It sounds to me like keeping it as a hobby and enjoying your cooking with family and friends might be more your style. As BigJim said, most of us who enjoy food have considered the restaurant business in some form. One 2-month stint as a waitress taught me that chef-hood was not for me. As far as owning and/or running a restaurant, many people think that owning a business and "being my own boss" is a dream. In reality it means that you have no "off" time, period, and your "boss" is every person who walks through the door. The minute you plan a vacation, are taking some time with your spouse and baby, putting your feet up for a movie or reading there will be a kitchen fire, one of your employees will have cut their finger off, etc.

Also it is a very unreliable income. Yes, even if you have a very highly successful place right off the bat, the vagueries of the business are that tomorrow someone may open something similar to yours two buildings down, and since it is the newest and latest you may find yourself unable to make payroll for a few months while you woo your customers back. I've been watching our small, tourism-oriented town go from having no Mexican food, to our favorite place in a nearby town moving in, then this year? Two new Mexican-style restaurants opened. Because of their location, their non-tourism based customers (locals and our large Mexican restaurant workers!) I doubt they put a dent in their business. But had one of them opened near them, it might be a different story.
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