Speak Up

Monday, March 15, 2010

Chef Advice

My younger sister is 15, and with the big wide world in front of her and she's trying to make sense of things and chose a career path. She's a competitive gymnast and cheerleader with great grades. But what does she want to do? COOK. She has a opportunity to spend the last two years of high school going to her regular high school in the morning then heading over to "cooking school" where she would simultaneously earn high school and college credits. The program is wonderful; my other sister when through a similar program- only she went to "zoo school" at the Columbus Zoo. I think it's a great idea, but my chef husband, on the other hand, is going to try his best to stop her.

Does it seem a little odd that my husband discourages people from going into the same industry that puts food on our table? It has nothing to do with my sister either; he tells everyone to avoid professionally cooking. His argument is that the industry isn't what most people think it is. I agree. My sister watches cake decorating shows and enjoys cooking very much-but does she really know what cooking in a restaurant entails? She wants to open a cake bakery: "Coco's Cakes". Does she know the road to get there can be scary and painful? Can she handle day work weeks including holidays and late nights? Then again, how can she know unless she tries?

But who knows, maybe she is tough enough. Is it Erik's job to simply present the facts of the industry or should he throw in his two cents and influence my sister? After all, she's only 15 so I think that she should go into the cooking school program , and in the end if she decides its not for her then she will have at least learned some useful skills.

Do your husbands and boyfriends encourage or discourage youngsters from entering the world of all things food.

Food is Love,
Hilary

10 comments:

Alyssa said...

My husband's 15yo nephew is also in the midst of his first year of cooking school. Mathieu has been trying to make him understand that the life of a line cook is a grueling one, a life that leaves very little for anything other than work. Mathieu got into cooking because he was a troublemaker and had been kicked out of all of the secondary schools in his town - cooking school was his last chance. Thankfully, he discovered his passion in the kitchen and had the drive to go through thirteen years of hell before he became a chef de cuisine. All his nephew has seen, however, has been his uncle's name in the newspaper/on TV, and he knows that he wants that, too. On the other hand, Mathieu did encourage him, if he is really serious about working in the culinary world, to become a baker or a butcher, because those are highly respected positions where the nephew lives (Europe).

Personally, I am a proponent of supporting and nurturing the passions of kids, no matter how challenging or outlandish. As someone who went to art school, though, I have learned that it's a good idea to have a backup plan.

DCW Jes said...

wow hilary! i cant honestly say that chef b and i have really had THAT particular discussion. i say this because i am now in the midst of my 3rd quarter in the culinary program here in nebraska. i am going of baking/pastry (for those of you who dont know me). it was encouraged to me by my chefboyfriend. i work at a bakery, i have worked in the food industry for almost (2 weeks shy) of 2 years. that isnt counting the year and a half that i worked fast food. chef b has been in the industry for...ohh 21 years. (he started as a busboy at 14). i have an uncle who is living in hawaii and is a sous chef (that i recently found out), his daughter, my cousin, is wanting to go to the community college out there for culinary also. i, having experienced this firsthand, know what the industry is like. it can be glamorous, and it cant be. the thing is, passion. its what makes you happy. if my children or family members want to go into the "industry" i encourage them to find out as much as they can before getting into it. my cousin is coming the nebraska in june, i am hoping to show her around my school, cook dinner with her here in my home, and maybe show her my work and my boyfriend's work. her dad works at a university so his hours are much different from my boyfriend's. i want to just be honest with people. i know its not easy. i, too, hope to own my own bakery and sometimes, my chef and i sit around and come up with ideas. i dont think its a problem to educate younger people who arent exposed to the industry, i just dont want to make decisions for them. maybe your sister can come and stay with you over spring break or something before she gets into the whole thing and find out firsthand what you and erik go thru? maybe its possible, maybe not. maybe you have a friend that can show her around a kitchen in her hometown, just suggestions. i hate to be the person to squash other people's dreams. i have had that happen to me too, just educate and be supportive is all i am saying. :)

ChefWife said...

The odd thing is that Erik was lured into the industry by the Food Network-the very same thing that he thinks is the worst reason for others to start cooking.

I'm going to encourage my sister to do what she wants- she's only 15 for crying outloud!

Anonymous said...

can she get a PT job in a rest. on the weekends? get a sense of what it's like in a real kitchen

ChefWife said...

I think it's a bit early to be working in a resto now. She has so much going on with school, cheerleading, and gymnastics. But I'll bring that idea to her attention. It should be done at some point if she really wants to cook/bake.

Anonymous said...

I agree a PT job is a great idea. I worked in a bakery as my first job at 14. I think that would be a great way to decide if it's something she really wants to do. See what it's like.

Unfortunately, I think that Food Network etc. glamourizes being a chef. It has changed dramatically over the years.

I see Erik's side where it's such a demanding industry and you want the people you love to basically do anything you can to avoid the crazy ride that is the service industry. If I had a younger sister I would tell her to do anything BESIDES get into that industry. Only because for women it's even harder than for men.

I hope that she finds out what she loves! Do what you love! That's what matters!

Cindy @ Chalk it Up! said...

I am so glad that I found your blog!! I have been the wife of a chef for almost 15 years!! I go through periods where I just want to walk away,like right now. He's on a 7 day 12 hour a day work week this week. I have two boys 8 and 12. Their dad teaches them how to cook and my older one loves it but we are drilling it into them early, Choose another profession! I hate to sound so negative. I really try to be very positive. But I'm just giving my honest opinion. I would love to be a part of what i call a WOC (wife of chef) support group. It can be very lonely being a WOC haha.
I will be adding you to my blog list.
My main blog is www.chalkaboutit.blogspot.com

I wish you all the best. I read your post above about your new addition. I'm sorry that your first week has been so rough. Enjoy your little blessing.

Cindy

stealthmexican said...

I recently had this discussion with my Chef regarding our kids going into the business. I would be horrified (hours, difficulty of the job) and he would encourage them to do it smarter than he did. i.e. benefit from his experience.
Otherwise, whenever I hear people talking about cooking, the Food Network, how exciting it must be to be married to a Chef and how they want to go to culinary school, I laugh my head off....
Patricia (Chef's wife for 20 years)

Lindsay said...

I notice that noone has commented to this post in over 1 year but I will give my opinion anyway. I am a 38 year old chef in Australia, I run a kitchen which has it's main staple as cafe work but often does 100-300 people function work. My nephew recently decided he would like to become a chef and my first reaction weas to tell himm not to do it. He has a great talent with wood work and enjoys doing it, I have also noticed he has a great palate and is eager to learn about cooking and food. I think he would make a very good chef. I think my main concern is just for him financially as he gets older as I know most builders earn about 2 to 3 times a chef wage.
I also think that when you recieve training at home you have a false idea of what it is like in the industry, I believe a lot of the younger people today think they will be finished in 2 years of an apprenticeship and will not find fault with themselvers if they don't. It's not just about actually cooking the food but being prepared and being able to multi task and juggle many orders/prep/listen and be clean at the same time.

I have found that the new apprentices I get at The moment have the attitude of "I have been doing this for 6 months now! I should be just cooking meat and others should be cleaning and prepping" all the while there knives are dull and so is the motivation.

It can be a great job, but it is still one that takes skill and communication, it will allow you to travel and get a job anywhere as long as you remember the head chef is the head chef for a reason.

Lindsay said...

I notice that noone has commented to this post in over 1 year but I will give my opinion anyway. I am a 38 year old chef in Australia, I run a kitchen which has it's main staple as cafe work but often does 100-300 people function work. My nephew recently decided he would like to become a chef and my first reaction weas to tell himm not to do it. He has a great talent with wood work and enjoys doing it, I have also noticed he has a great palate and is eager to learn about cooking and food. I think he would make a very good chef. I think my main concern is just for him financially as he gets older as I know most builders earn about 2 to 3 times a chef wage.
I also think that when you recieve training at home you have a false idea of what it is like in the industry, I believe a lot of the younger people today think they will be finished in 2 years of an apprenticeship and will not find fault with themselvers if they don't. It's not just about actually cooking the food but being prepared and being able to multi task and juggle many orders/prep/listen and be clean at the same time.

I have found that the new apprentices I get at The moment have the attitude of "I have been doing this for 6 months now! I should be just cooking meat and others should be cleaning and prepping" all the while there knives are dull and so is the motivation.

It can be a great job, but it is still one that takes skill and communication, it will allow you to travel and get a job anywhere as long as you remember the head chef is the head chef for a reason.