WanaBe a ChefCareer change

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Atlantic Culinary Academy (NH)
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California School of Culinary Arts, Pasadena, CA
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WebFoodPros.com: WanaBe a Chef: Career change
By Kaapent (Kaapent) on Wednesday, February 16, 2000 - 01:06 pm: Edit

I am a forty-something currently and for the past 17 years employed in the construction management field. I live in western Massachusetts. I have always loved cooking, and would like to become a chef. I would appreciate any suggestions as to how I can do this while at the same time, temporarily keeping my current job. I would be willing to travel reasonable commuting distances. Thanks.

By Scooter (Scooter) on Friday, February 18, 2000 - 06:34 am: Edit

my suggestion would be that you first better familiarize yourself with what it means exactly to "be a chef" or to otherwise work as a professional in the culinary arts. i say this because for many of us, it starts with a love and passion for food and cooking... but somewhere along the line, we discover that "cooking" is only one of the many tasks in professional/production kitchen work. actually, in terms of time and effort, i think it is one of the smallest components.

so familiarize yourself with the professional side of your love for cooking. ask (nicely) for a tour of the kitchen in a restaurant or hotel on a slow night. volunteer a few hours to work for free someplace. they'll most likely put you in a menial non-cooking position, but even so, you'll see for your own eyes what goes on behind the scenes.

if you still decide that this is the career change for you, then the next question falls under the "school vs. no school" debate. there are many culinary schools all over the country to fit your financial and professional needs, as well as whatever level of seriousness you end up with. most of them have websites. if you want to start out slowly, and maybe continue to work while you begin to explore, maybe a few classes at a local or community college might be a good idea.

the "no school" option would have you starting in an entry-level position (e.g. dishwasher) and slowly working your way up the many ladders to an apprenticeship.

common to both routes are hard work, perseverance, and courage. as a 31 year old career changer myself, i wish you luck. hope this helps.

By Carrotstick (Carrotstick) on Tuesday, December 18, 2001 - 08:08 pm: Edit

Anyone in here with a little time to help in a small crisis?

Hi, I'm a 40 year old woman wishing to change careers after a divorce. I work/worked in the field of commercial art and fine art; esp. sculpture, which I still do. But I have always been passionate about cooking too.

I'm currently working, managing a small kitchen in a wine bar (piece a cake job). I have worked with a pastry chef who owned her own shop. I did her catering and worked cake designs as well as sugar and chocolate sculptures. I did well at this work, Loved it, but had to give it up. She is'nt in her own bussiness any longer and I could'nt see my way clear financially to make it on my own without her help.

My current dillema is, my age, financial situation, and build (I think).
As stated I'm 40. I'm in very good health, not old,but, not young either. My build is slight, very thin, petite-size 2-3 womans. It is'nt going to be easy picking up those big bags a flour and sugar. And, after going through a divorce I'm flat broke. I have been searching for every grant I can find but will most likely have to go into enormous debt to become a pastry chef (like most of you-I know).
My main question: Am I going to be able to make a good living at this work, and pay my bills, without killing myself physically?

Thanks for any answer I get, in advance.

By Pumpkin (Pumpkin) on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - 09:37 am: Edit

HELP!!!!!!!!!! Looking for an Apprenticeship in Central/Northern New Jersey under a certified chef. I'm planning on continuing my eduation through a community college but first I need an apprenticeship. Anyone with any info how to go about this- Please e-mail me at rolfmester@yahoo.com

Many thanks,

By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - 10:16 am: Edit


Pick a chef and ask. It's usually just that simple.

- Steve

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Thursday, July 24, 2003 - 01:59 am: Edit

Take a look at the ACF Apprenticeship Fundamentals Page

YOu will find there a further link to ACF Chapters that sponsors an Apprenticeship Program. It looks like ther is a program in Northern New Jersey.

By Mfarrell (Mfarrell) on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - 01:14 pm: Edit

Yeah, you see it all the time. Career changer here. I have applied to CHIC because I'm interested in becoming a chef/owner. I'm 30 y/o and single. But I plan on being married in the next year and would like to start a family. I have acquaintences saying they put in 12 hours a day at their restaurant. When do you have time to be with your family if your working till midnight-1am? Is it silly of me to think I'll have plenty of time to see my wife and kids?
Please help with this dilemma I have.

By George (George) on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - 02:30 pm: Edit

12 hours is a 1/2 day in the restaurant business.

Owning a restaurant and then getting married or vice versa can be considered bigamy.

You will see plenty of the wife and kids if they work at the restaurant as well.

IMHO pick one or the other, the business is not conducive to a good home life.


By Corey (Corey) on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 01:05 am: Edit

family? what is this strange term?

By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 02:30 pm: Edit

Welllllll ...

I think it's possible to work in this business and have a life, but both you and the rest of your life have to be flexible about what that means. Right now I'm working full-time, going to school full-time, working in a restaurant part-time, my wife goes to school full-time, she'll begin substitute teaching again in September, and we've got to kids to worry about and pay attention to. Obviously, it's not easy, but I would say it's working out better than I had expected.

And Matthew, watch yourself at CHIC. I graduate in a month, and I cannot imagine a better faculty and curriculum this side of Hyde Park. But this is the most spectacularly mismanaged administration I've ever heard of, and woe to you if you have to deal with the financial aid folks. Stay on top of everything and make sure everyone in the office follows through with their commitments to you.

Oh, and I promise you your admissions representative has lied to you several times already.

Despite all that, I've learned a ton and feel like I've gotten a great (albeit frustrating) education. Go figure.

- Steve

By George (George) on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 04:51 pm: Edit

You can work in the industry and have a chance at having a decent family life but owning a restaurant is a totally different situation, especially as a startup.

Hey Steve- why not start a thread- Top Lies the admissions department told me... I'm sute it's not just CHIC, other students from for profit schools probally have others, could be fun.


By Guest (Guest) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 03:51 pm: Edit

Does anyone know of a company that combines high-end cookware in-home demos with diner-party recipes? I imagine a job where cookware demo and foodtasting "tupperware" parties would be quite fun. Customers could pick ingredients, watch a visiting chef prepare the dishes & have an in-home tasting/dinner party; and at the end of the night - take orders for saute pans or imported olive oils. Does this type of job/company exist???

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 02:51 am: Edit


By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 04:50 pm: Edit

Doesn't that describe Pampered Chef? I don't know about "high end" but the rest fits. Their stuff certainly costs enough to be high end and I like the pizza stone I bought from them but have never been to a party so don't know quality across the board.

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