Previous career Q&As.
message: My son who is a junior in college just informed
us that he might want to make a major change and seek out
a culinary career. We've been researching frantically trying
to decide the best course. It's confusing. There are schools
such as FCI that claim to offer everything you need to begin
your career in 6 months. Is that possible? Then there is CIA
offering 2 & 4 year degree programs, but it's quite expensive.
Much less expensive are community colleges. In the state in
which we live two offer 2 year degree or 3 year apprenticeship/degree
programs leading to accredation by the American Culinary Federation.
Are programs such as FCI better to take after gaining a degree
or are they more of an introduction that could help you decide
if that's what you really want to do? Please Help!
OK mother this is the big question which school and how much
to spend. In short the CIA is a great school and if your son
is serious - then it is a good investment for the future.
If he thinks being a chef looks interesting but is not 110%
committed then perhaps start with a less expensive option
like community college to find out what it is really like.
Another good option is to go and work in a restaurant for
free for a month or two to see the realities of the business
- no Saturdays off, working all the holidays, no thanks from
your chef (that is me), low entry level pay etc., etc. On
the other hand the hectic crazy life is what some people love.
So -do not rush in to choosing a school until he is really
sure what he wants to do, when that is solved if the money
is there choose the school that will fit your budget.
Hello, I graduated from Culinary school about two years
ago. I am from Mexico. My concern is how can I get an opportunity
to make an international career, getting a lob position outside
my country. In my experience I have seen employers does not
give those chances, most of the times because they do not
sponsor working visas, therefore How can I get experience
outside my country. Besides I love cooking, I wanted this
career because I thought I would have the chance to travel
around the world, but now I see is more difficult than I thought.
Thank you for your time an help. Best Regards, Edgar.
Speaking as an English chef working here in the US, I can
sympathize with your dilemma. The only advice I can offer
is to contact all of the hotels within companies like Four
Seasons & Ritz Carlton. Mail each one (find their address
on line) and also contact their human resources head office.
They may be able to offer you a J-1 visa which is good for
eighteen months and is not too hard to obtain. The other option
to meet your goal might be to consider working for one of
these companies outside the USA and after two years transferring
with them to the States. This would be on an L-1 visa, which
is designed for international managers...... It's an up hill
struggle but a worthy one. Good luck, Jeremy.
How can I get a raise? - Jerzy
This is the toughest challenge of all... First, make sure
that you are the chef's right hand "man". Second figure out
why you should get an increase. The thing with negotiating
a salary increase is that quitting your job if you do not
get any more money, is the real polite threat that you are
laying on the table. So look around for a new position, speak
to your boss, be professional never threatening, explain why
you believe you are worthy of an increase. If this does not
work, then you have to choose, find a new job and tender your
resignation in the hope of a counter offer or stay where you
are. It is not the best advice but is pretty realistic...
Let me know how it goes, I might try it myself! J
My name is Rachel. I am 17, a Junior in high school, and
I have a passion for cooking. I plan on going to culinary
school soon. I am doing a research paper for my Composition
class about what career I would like to have in my future.
One of the requirements is a one on one interview. I live
in a small town and we don't have any professional or trained
chefs that I know of. I have gained permission to interview
online from my teacher. If there is a trained chef out there
that would answer my questions I would really appreciate it.
1. Describe a typical day at your job.
It is always rather varied, however I normally start work
at 10am. The first thing I do is go around the kitchen and
say hi to every one and make sure every one is on track. Then
I check my e-mails and voice mail. I have a meeting at 10.30
with the other culinary departments. During the course of
the day I will spend time writing menus, training staff, sending
out large banquets (up to 600 people) cooking, interviewing
prospective employees, ordering food and a couple of other
meeting. A normal working day is 10 - 12 hours...
2. What kind of person is best suited for this job?
Someone who is very dedicated and wants to do things really
well. You need to be able to deal with stress, and even enjoy
it. You have to enjoy learning and not take criticism personally.
3. What kind of skills will I need for this job?
An open mind, and being a little artistic is a big help.
4. What are the educational requirements? Degrees? Licenses?
Many kitchens prefer a culinary degree, but dedication and
enthusiasm is far more important....
5. Why did you choose this career?
When I was thirteen I was cooking a BBQ with my best friend,
he said he was going to be a chef, I said me too. He is now
a stock broker, and still my best friend. I was also not very
academic (a little dyslexic) when I was at school, so I knew
I needed to do something practical, a chef seemed like a great
idea. My friends gave me a hard time, but now they eat their
6. What are the advantages to this career? Why? Benefits?
You get to eat out for free in a lot of places, and cooking
is a skill that allows you to travel. The hotel company that
I work for allows their employees to stay at the other hotels
within the company for free!
7. What are the disadvantages? What is the hardest part
of your job? Why?
You work over the holidays, Christmas New Years name them
all. The hours can be very crazy and you never know what days
off you will have, so it is very difficult to plan things.
8. What role does technology such as computers play in
Its role is increasing. A lot of internal communication via
e-mail. Many hotels order all of their food on line. It is
also a good thing if you can use word and excel, as this comes
in to play a lot more. For me personally I have my web site
so I must spend 20 hrs a week at the computer...
9. What is the future outlook for this career? What about
job security? Do you know of any possible changes in your
job in the future?
The economy has slowed a little for us, but their is a shortage
of chefs so things look fine and should stay that way.
10. What is your specialty?
This is always a tough question for me - Fruit and Vegetable
carving... I love making fresh pastas and raviolis.
11. How long have you been interested in this career?
How long have you been cooking? 19 years and I have been cooking
12. What culinary school did you go to or where were you
trained? Where or what type of school would you recommend?
I went to school in London (England). I spent three years
at school. In the US the CIA is good, but very expensive.
13. What advice would you give someone going into this
If you social life is more important than a career do not
become a chef. For the first six years in this business it
is just about working and learning. So when you start working
in a kitchen be quiet and inhale the good stuff. Choose the
best learning opportunity. Work in the best kitchens that
your situation can afford, but look behind the marketing before
you join them!