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Old 05-28-2010, 02:55 AM   #1
Assistant Cook
Join Date: May 2010
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A Question

Hello all.
I have a school assignment that i am hoping to get some help with.
My question is: Why do cooks end their career so early?

I have some thoughts about it, but i am not sure about it, so i am trying to get some answers and opinions from other people. Maybe someone can tell me why they quit their career as a cook, and maybe someone have experience from others that have ended their career.

people quit their career because they want to move on and so, but as far as i've heard, cooks is the profession that people quit in earlier than other professions.

My own thoughts about this topic is:
They end their career because they want to do something else.
- Because they are not pleased with the workplace.
- Because they are tired of working as a cook.

Every answer helps. Hope you can help me out :)
Thanks in advance.


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Old 05-28-2010, 06:20 AM   #2
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Because it's hot, fast paced, long hours, dealing with irritable or inept servers, working in a kitchen that was designed by a chimpanzee, you receive lots of criticism from the patrons and have very little room for error (with both the owner and the health inspector breathing down your neck. The owner wants you to save leftovers, and the health inspector wants you to throw them away.) And in general, it doesn't pay very well.

Unlike TV depicts, it can be a nasty, sometimes dangerous, and thankless job. Job satisfaction is difficult to receive.

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Old 05-28-2010, 07:23 AM   #3
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the enjoyment of it left
health reasons, on feet all the time maybe legs or back problems arise
the hours they have to put in no time with family
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Old 05-28-2010, 08:29 AM   #4
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In the food service industry, being a line cook is but one of many options. After several or many years, a professional may wish to explore other areas of the overall industry. Plus all that was said in the above comments.
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Old 05-28-2010, 08:32 AM   #5
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all of the above.

I have been doing it for only 16years, and though I still love what I do, if it were in a "line" type position, I am not sure I would still have the love for it that I do.

Running/working in a restaurant is extremely demanding. Very hard to find a balance sometimes, especially if family is involved.

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Old 05-29-2010, 07:01 AM   #6
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in my case, i ended my career after 18 years, having worked my way up from dishwasher at 16 years old to executive chef.

the reason in my case was the fact that i was getting married and the various deciding factors included these (in no particular order):
- when you get to the level of executive chef, you have little time for family life. holidays are your busiest times, and someone will invariably call in sick.

- hiring is always problematic, and firing is never fun.

- a creative outlet for your skills is one of the attractions of being a chef, but for the vast bulk of chef positions about the best you can hope for is a vaguely upscale restaurant which still limits the sorts of ingredients you can freely use, as well as the types of dishes you can put out.

- as a line chef, wages can be fairly good or fairly low. in my own experience, i had an pretty good wage working at a well-known restaurant in new york off of times square, but the cost of living was such that, after about 1 year, i had barely saved a penny. on the other hand, while the cost of living is a lot less in a smaller community, you're not too likely to make very much money.

- job security is problematic. about 1/2 of new restaurants fail within the first year. few last much more than 5 or 10 years. also, in many areas, such as in my hometown of newport, r.i., there are "off" seasons with layoffs and reduced hours.

- one gets tired of coming home late smelling and feeling like an old french fry.

some of the good points of the job are the comeraderie that develops in a well-functioning kitchen, the fact that it's fairly easy to move around the country and still find a job, and the fact that if you're skilled, it's also fairly easy to move from 1 position to a better paying one in another restaurant (used to be anyway, not sure about these days).

given all of the above, i decided that it was time to go back to school and change careers. still, i think that there's a possiblity of doing the owner/chef scene one day.
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Old 05-29-2010, 09:36 AM   #7
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Unlike some who have answered your question, I have never been a chef. BUT I did think of doing it for awhile ... until I saw the reality.

Tony Bourdain did a show about it.

Working in a kitchen is very hard, on-your-feet, physical labor. It screws with your personal relationships. You sweat, really, you have no idea if you haven't tried it, how much you sweat. Say, you go to a restaurant from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. That's considered early in some cities. Someone has to prep and clean up before and after. If it is a fancy place, you'll have some illegal immigrants to do that for you. In a smaller city, maybe not.

You are on your feet all that time. You are not just "cooking", your mind has to be there every single minute. How do you get the meal for a table of 8 out, with the food cooked to order? Let's say you're working at a simple, small meat-and-potatoes place. You have 20 orders for a steak. Different cuts. You still have to time all of those steaks so that each is done to order. By-the-way, if you are like me, my glasses are totally steamed and dripping within ten minutes of entering the kitchen and I cannot read anything or see anything.

I never did get so far as cooking professionally, simply for the above reasons (seen when I worked as a waitress) or when I realized that certain relatives of relatives thought I should cook their meals "to order" (i.e., vegetarian, don't like this, don't like that, rare, medium, well-done, don't like peppers, don't like onions, don't like ... well, you name it).

What I'm getting at is burn out can happen period. It can happen in any profession, but cooking is very, very physical and not for the faint of heart.

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