WanaBe a ChefHelp!...I have a dream...but it's the CIA!!!...& what's the income in this profession?

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WebFoodPros.com: WanaBe a Chef: Help!...I have a dream...but it's the CIA!!!...& what's the income in this profession?
By Cranberryvodka (Cranberryvodka) on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 08:12 pm: Edit

I have a wish to go to the CIA...the problem is getting there...My parents do not have $100,000CAD sitting around...My mentor is a CIA graduate...he mentioned ways to cutting down costs....(Government loans, student loans,...hall monitors?)...i also have to collect ammo when i present the idea of going to the CIA to my father,...He's concerned about future income...(he's a CA,...what can i say?)...If there's anyone that can give me info on the incomes of those in the profession...and ways of cutting costs to get me to CIA...i will be indebted to you!! thank you!!, sincerely...

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 07:49 am: Edit

Read The check from lil Bushie thread up top!

By Thebaker (Thebaker) on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 07:31 pm: Edit

Ill give you a hint.
We dont do it for the money..

By Mbw (Mbw) on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 02:33 pm: Edit


You said it! Most chefs/line cooks I have spoken to have regretted going to CCA, CIA, mostly because of the loans they are still paying off. Thay all say "If I only knew I would have just got a job and worked my way up" I am personally a little envyous of them and all the knowledge they have had access to, but they still need the same time behind the line as us "Hard Knocks" cooks. We will often go out of our way to torture newbie grads just to put them in their place. Don't get me wrong, if they rock they get instant repect, if not, they're toast. Going to the CIA/CCA will show an employer you are serious and may open doors that would stay closed otherwise. Consider a city college. They often have GREAT programs at almost NO $$$$.

Here's a story for old dad,

A man living in Orange County California got a job selling sport bikes. His two roommates were often made fun of because one worked in a sewage plant and the other a line cook at Denny's. The salesman would come home with a different bike whenever he wanted, and made several thousand a month in commission. One day he lost his job and came home real depressed. The two roommates came up to him and said, "People will always eat, and people will always ••••, but people won't always buy sport bikes."

No it's not poetry, but so true.

I used to make fun of the same Denny's cook for being a cook at Denny's. He just smiled and said, "Only 4 more years." "What do you mean?" I asked. I retire in 4 years with a full pension. He was 28 at the time.

The wage is low, but you should always be able to find a job.


By Thebaker (Thebaker) on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 05:48 pm: Edit

Thats right
My grandfather allways told me that if you have a Craft/Trade you will allways have a job.

By Panini (Panini) on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 06:00 pm: Edit

This forum is full of people just making or not making ends. This is a great profession. I make a boat load of money!!!! I set my own schedule!!!!! I am totally in charge!!!!!
NO! IT'S NOT AMWAY!!!!! It's the food business.
I have never talked about monies here, but I can assure you that some of the people here are not hurting. I never look up to the 1 %er's anymore, hell I am one.
Every profession has sh-t jobs and jobs that are very unrewarding, or jobs that are rewarding but very little compensation. You have to find the right one. Go to Culinary School, do everything you want to be. If you should choose to be sucessful than position yourself around sucessful people and learn.
My Grandparents, family, never told me this. They were immogrants that were usedto life time jobs with what they thought was security.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 09:04 pm: Edit

Bravo Panini, another bottle of Cristal sir?

By Mbw (Mbw) on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 09:13 pm: Edit

Very inspirational,

What size boat?

In order to make such a “Pile” of money do you need to be a partner, or owner in the business? I think so. From my experience cooks, chefs, sous chefs, GM’s RARELY make what a good receptionist does. I remember a fellow cook telling me that he thought cooking was the “Lowest paying skilled work available” (With the obvious exception of being a housewife, etc.). I stopped being a line cook because “I did the math.” As much as the restaurant business rocks, it’s tough to make real $$$$ without some ownership.

As far as jobs go however, making people happy, and working with food is unparalleled. When it’s right it feels like magic, and your customers will tell you the same.

For my $.02 School AND OR work ASAP, oh and tell dad you've narrowed it down to two choices, cooking or acting.


By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 09:16 pm: Edit

Pan is an owner you twit!

By Mbw (Mbw) on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 09:33 pm: Edit

Oui Chef,

I was just making sure Cranberryvodka did too.

By Peachcreek (Peachcreek) on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 10:54 pm: Edit

You don't enter this profession for the money. On the contrary, you enter this profession in spite of the money. You'd better love cooking, because love is all you are going to have for a while.
I like the story about the guy who cleaned up after the elephants at the circus. When someone asked him how he could deal with the huge mounds of dung, urine and flies and why he did'nt quit he replied, "What? And leave show business?"

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 05:44 pm: Edit

I truly appologize. I have never tooted my own financial horn here. But I get truly frustrated at people who missinterpret work. You don't enter this profession because you love food!!! You enter it because it is easy to get into. I love brain surgery, but it was not that easy to get into. I love the mind and brain!!!
You must have a plan to be sucessful. I guess I'm totally missing the boat when people state that they got the greatest satisfaction presenting a dessert the other night!, but they could'nt afford diapers on the way home. WHY!!!WHY!!!WHY!!! Can't you have it both ways. You don't have to be an owner or Mbw(don't ever use this word again)partner. If you are creative and really learn your profession inside out the money comes. Many venture people are looking for creative talent, just as in any field. If one gets so much satisfaction out of what they are doing but no compensation your only half way there.
A brain surgeon saves a childs life, he's developed a new proceedure. He has neglected to get his ducks in order and never bills or recieved money.HMMMMM
One of the problems with this profession is there is no SOP's amungst the peers, there is no required qualifications, there are definately two classes in this industry. GET UP OFF YOUR ASSES AND JOIN THE SUCESSFUL ONES!!!
It's not show business, it's a job. It's very very very hard to excell in this type of field.
SORRY! I'm rambling again.
Just my 2 cents.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 09:06 pm: Edit

Panini can you spare a dime for the saute elbow association of america???

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 10:44 pm: Edit

Manny, I see it's 9pm and you have probably broken the edge, is that a dig? You are on the other side, no? Satisfying job + compensation.
I'm not financially secure, is anyone?
And if anyone thinks I did not spend way to many hours in the trenches they are wrong. I have worked for everything I have. Years ago the banks laughed at me. Now I visit their facility to attend networking luncheons. Oh yea, they always have someone ask if the can give me a line. I say thank you but I bank at -----, they laugh and say they can do so much better for me. I tell them, thanks, but these were the people who took a risk with me 10yrs. ago and I will bank there till one of us quits.
ps I appologize for being harsh, uppity, or whatever. But I leave you with a cliche. You will never soar like an eagle if you are surrounded by turkeys.
barkeep,one more please.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 05:57 am: Edit

Of course Pan ,I'm f---ing w/ you. I love my job man. I work from 6:30AM to 1:00PM Mon.-Fri. and I'm done. I also get 7 weeks off a year paid. The best part is I get to spend more time w/ my little one. The $$$ is great too. You know what, banks suck in general, I do all my business w/ a credit union.

By Rc_fleming (Rc_fleming) on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 04:03 pm: Edit

Cran save your money and go to a trade school. I just finished the two week intro course at LA Trade technical and I cant wait for fall semester when the classes put out food for the restauraunt. The start up cost was a little high, ended up spending about $800 on books and uniforms but that is cheap in comparison. Fall semester tuition was only $151. Check out Petersons guide to Culinary schools and the ACF to get a list of good and ACF acredited schools.

In an earlier post I said I was going to pass off cul school in favor of academics, but I decided to do both. I wanted to explore all my options, so don't end up doing something I might hate. I man do I love culinary school, but when its over I am definitly going back to get a that BA. Guess I got something to prove.

Manny, those are excellent hours, what do ya do. Breakfest/Lunch shift, day prepcook. I keep hearing about all these 18 hour days, I think that it is this lack off balance that is destroying I lot of people in the industry. How do you guys manage it?



By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 04:13 pm: Edit

Rc, I teach man, at a Voc. Ed. center. I did the 18-22 hour days early on in life man, those days are over. Your advice is excellent so is the route you are going. When kids come to my school they pay about $1200 for a year and 3 mos. program and they get a year credit at schools like FIU and J & W, they save about 13-15K going to a trade school first. They get more hands on also.
Good Luck to you dude!

By Rc_fleming (Rc_fleming) on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 05:02 pm: Edit

Hey thanks Manny! So the kids at your school go on to places like johnson and whales to get a restauraunt management type degree?

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, August 15, 2001 - 12:16 am: Edit

Or culinary also RC, some go right to work

By Thedestroyer (Thedestroyer) on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 01:26 pm: Edit

I've been reading this forum because I've been thinking of a career change. I've worked in a commerical bakery in the past so I understand and can appreciate the hardwork aspect and the work condition comments that have been made by others.

I'm a recently laid off web developer who's tired of the IT field and it's lack of personal reward.

One thing I'm curious about though. Maybe it's just me, but there's a huge NEGATIVE tone to the postings that I've been reading. Basically, what I've been getting from the postings is that the pay, work environment, etc. sucks so why would anyone think about going into a culinary career.

I know jobs are what you make of it but is it really as bad as it's being made out to be?
I've been thinking of going to the FCI in NYC for their pastry chef program and maybe the bread making program as well. I was hesitant before reading all this, but now...

By George (George) on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 02:32 pm: Edit


Why would anyone think about going into a culinary career?

If you really have to think about it it probally will not be a long term career option.

To be sucessful you have to have the passion, cooking or baking is in you soul and you have to do it.

Logic has nothing to do with it.

By Thedestroyer (Thedestroyer) on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 03:15 pm: Edit

Well logic plays into it a little, or at least it should...

I love to cook and especially love to bake pastries and bread. The reason why I posted my message is to get other perspectives. Afterall, making a career change from IT to culinary when you're 38 isn't exactly an easy decision (regardless of how much baking is in your soul) and I don't want to go into it completely blind and uninformed.

By George (George) on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 04:14 pm: Edit

Your are correct, the answer was over simplistic.

It is very difficult to make as much as money or get the same benebenefits in culinary/baking/pastry arts after 5 to 8 years experience or ever, as IT folks make.

It has to be a passion that matters more than the money or just about all the other normal rational things in the world, like family life and holidays.

Just one opinion.

By Thedestroyer (Thedestroyer) on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 05:33 pm: Edit


Thanks. I appreciate the candor. All the comments have been helpful. But do people really find the culinary field so gloomy or is it a handful of folks with bad experiences?

Also, can we hear from folks who have graduated from the FCI? From what I've been reading FCI has a pretty good rep but it's always better to hear from folks who have been through a given school...


Now if I can only get my father's recipe for his award winning Stollen...

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 05:43 pm: Edit

Yea, Stollen...your in like Flint!
Your 38.
Take it from someone who knows, and has done what your planning.


Just my 0.02.

By George (George) on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 06:20 pm: Edit

Hold on here I didn't say anything about it being gloomy. I just said it's different.

It's really is a field where most folks should be young to enter it, get experience and then mold a career that allows time for everything.

I said it's a passion. Folks that have the passion love it, and would not be in any other field. (most of the time). Every job sucks on occasion. I think Spike might have had a bad day ;<)

The biggest reason I try to inform wanabe's of the darker site is the sugar coating home gourmet cooking & baking and the tv shows put on it. I try to keep folks from wasting 20K and a good career to find them selved in something they didn't expect and 20K in duebt to boot.

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 08:07 pm: Edit

For Thedestroyer, Hopee and any others wanting a change.

You have to think about how long it took you to get were you are in your current career. How long it took you to get the salary you make and the benefits, if any? How many people that started at the same time you did made to where you are today?
Do you think becoming a chef will be any easier?
Sure the experience of life can translate to many things and that can cut some of the time needed but in every field to reach the top you have to start at the bottom.

There is a lot of negativizim expressed by chefs to Wanabes, but it's more cautionary than anything else. Most people never make past 2 years in the business. We see many that think being a chef is what Emeril does on TV. Or that its making a wonderful meal for a few guest, or baking bread for a family get together.

What it really is, is making that wonderful meal for 500 guest and then doing it again the next night and then the next and every night. It's make that bread for a dinner but making 2000 loaves at a time and then doing it again the next day. Chefs are slaves to dead lines. Service is a t 5:00pm and nothing can change that, everything must be ready at the appointed time, there is no putting off to tomorrow and due to this at times it seems that our time, or life is not our own. Our busiest times are when the rest of the world is having fun. Hopefully their in your dining room having fun. That can take a toll on family life.

That being said there are rewards. Chefs do hold a certain status, producing wonderful food consistently does tend to amaze some people, not all by any means, but enough. Few career choices allow you to get that reward for doing a good job, or a bad one, so close to the execution of the work.

Chef bitch and grouse about their work but I feel safe in saying that 90% plus of those that make it past that 2 year mark wouldn't do anything else. I've come to hate the "p" word but something drives them to produce their very best.

By Thedestroyer (Thedestroyer) on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 11:59 pm: Edit


You're right. You didn't say it was gloomy but the overall gist from others makes it sound less than to be in the culinary field and maybe it is a good thing to try and discourage people - it's probably a similar phenomenon that kids went through whenever a 101 Dalmations movie comes out and the sales of those dogs goes through the roof only to find Dalmations are horrible dogs for kids.

I also think Spike had a bad day today though I wish Spike would elaborate more.

Cheftim, having worked in a large commerical bakery I am fully aware of the repetition and the "busy" times. Making thousands and thousands of pies over a Saturday because it's Thanksgiving or the same pastries day in day out.

Is it different being a pastry chef in a restaurant environment? What's the average time that most newbie pastry chefs put in before they're considered to have paid their dues? Is it beneficial to work overseas, say France or Germany?

I have a lot of questions I need answers to before I can even begin to seriously consider making this drastic change. That's why I posted my questions. I do appreciate the unvarnished responses but I wouldn't mind hearing some of the positives along with the negatives... Afterall, I look to the best source, professional chefs, to help mold my decision.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Wednesday, December 05, 2001 - 01:59 am: Edit

I started at 18. Did nothing but read, bake, and learn from everyone I could.
You start at the bottom, unless you own it.
You work all the time, even if you do own it.
This biz has some of the lowest profit margins
of many if not most biz,s.
You have to oversee everything and everyone when you become good enough to run the show.
How long is that? How long you got?
Your competing with young people that would sooner die than give up the postion they hold.
Bad Day?, well maybe.
I'm entitled to a couple, I think.
But lets look at more, theres the people that you have to work with that don't have the same work ethic as you, and will never have it.
Theres the Chefs that you have to please, and do things for them and half the time they don't know what they want, unless they get some idea from a mag or book, and thats ok, cause thats YOUR job, to think of new ideas or ways of doing things that someone is not doing in the same market as you. Salespeople....Yuk!
Thats not all you have to put up with, you have people like me. I'll do it faster and cheaper,
and for more people than you, and won't sleep until I see your place of biz with that brown paper hanging on the windows, which tells everyone that your gone, done, out of biz.
Thats not even the tip of the ice.
There are so many other things on a daily bases
that you have to deal with, put up with, solve, contend with, change, switch, reuse, not throw out,teach, teach, teach, and watch EVERYTHING.
How old are you? I'm 45, lets see thats 27 years give or take some years off.
But not on Christmas, or Thanksgiving or any of the Major Holidays.
I know I forgot a bunch of stuff, and if your still good to go, go for it!

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Wednesday, December 05, 2001 - 02:10 am: Edit

and I loved every stinking min.
every crazy chef, everyone that learned something from me, every job, which was more than I remember, and can't think of anything else besides the food biz that allows me to be....me.
I think you have to be a few bricks short of a full load to be in this biz.
I know I am.

By Aandfguy976431 (Aandfguy976431) on Monday, January 28, 2002 - 11:32 pm: Edit

Hey everybody!
my name is taylor and i have developed a true LOVE for cooking. I am now turning 15 and i have loved cooking for several years. I am doing VERY well in school (4.75 gpa) and i was wondering what classes and afterschool/weekend jobs i could take to get into the cooking business. I realize that cooking isnt anything like it is on TV, but I just love to cook, even if i dont get to eat, I love seeing what i have created and people enjoying what i have made : ) If you can give me some advice.....PLEASE DO SO thanks everybody
~ Taylor

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