WanaBe a ChefIs my husband Crazy?

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WebFoodPros.com: WanaBe a Chef: Is my husband Crazy?
By Nadine (Nadine) on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 02:34 am: Edit

My husband just had to give up his job as a long haul truck driver due to his diabetes, now he's looking into alternative careers and is considering culinary school, I know this topic has been raised before but I just wondered if a 43 year old man who is overweight and dosen't have much cooking experience can get a decent job after graduating, The school he spoke to painted a rosy picture but I'm not so sure, can anyone who has been in this position give some advice that's current (for 2006), He was making 55-60 thousand a year before, He said he also is considering a baking and pastry option, is that better for an older guy? I'm a Registered Nurse so we can live with a little less money but don't want my husband to be embarassed or get into something that's a bad idea.
Thanks, Nadine

By Chefjoannam (Chefjoannam) on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 04:36 am: Edit

all husbands are crazy


Ok, now that that's settled...let's figure out what he's getting into:

lots of standing,
plenty of heavy lifting,
erratic eating habits,
very low starting wage,
very, very early working hours,
OH - and repaying college loans!

I can't say for certain, but he might face age discrimination, since there are so many newbies who will work for nothing to get experience.

In considering the diabetes, does he have the willpower to refrain from tasting everything he makes in the bakeshop?

My Chef-Instructor in culinary school became diabetic, and he got OUT of the hands-on part of the profession in order to make it easier on himself.

Sorry this is so gloomy. Maybe others here will back me up on this? If your family needs his income, you might try to get him to reconsider.

By Foodpump (Foodpump) on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 09:14 am: Edit

Yeah, Chefjoannam has it pretty much cut and dried, even the part about wives being crazy...

Heavy lifting. Yup. Specially the new guys. Lifting 20 or 30 gallon buckets of soup/sauce stock in and out of sinks and pots, sacks of potatoes, onions. Baking? Got to be able to hoist a 50 lb sack of flour into the mixer if you're going to do bread in any quantities, and then hoisting the mixing bowl with the resulting 90 or 100 lbs of dough onto the table.

Best thing to do is to do what every one else does. Try out at a bakery or restaurant for a couple of days.

By Cookingfresh (Cookingfresh) on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 02:25 pm: Edit

I'm 45, overweight and been I this business for 31 years and I find it hard getting a job. especially one that pays 60k a year. On top of that my knees kill me almost evey night from standing on a cement floor. My erratic eating habits have my doc telling me to lose weight or go on blood pressure medicine and the stress doesn't help. Sorry if this sounds negative but it is the facts. At a time when most chefs are looking for alternate ways of making a living your husband is looking to get into it. I don't know if this is a great idea, but I don't want to squash someones dreams either. I like to think "if one man can do it another man can do it". Just be realistic and understand that a schools job is to get you signed up, thats how they get paid. Your husband should visit area restaurants and talk to chefs to get a feel for the market. Long hours, heavy lifting, erratic eating are the norm, not the exception. But I would have it any other way.

By Andapanda (Andapanda) on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 05:11 pm: Edit

Here's a website about Reversing Diabetes, if it is Type II. He can control it by changing his diet, and exercising. :)

All culinary schools will try to sell you(your husband) on their program. They will tell you about job outlook projections for the next (insert number) so many years into the future, etc. Remember, liars figure, and (statistical)figures lie. Yes, go figure--out the total expenses for attending that culinary school. Be wary of any school which tries to do the hard sell on your husband(and you)!
I recall taking a tour of Brown College(LCB affiliate), and by the time I was done with the tour, they insistently and repeatedly, wanted to sign me up for the next term. I gently reminded them that I had already completed a vocational 2-year culinary arts program, which btw, was(in the early 1990s) more rigorous(almost quasi-military) than their program would ever be! It was down the road from the USN RNCB 17 base, and some of my instructors, and classmates, were USN, or USCG, Reserve, or retired sailors. (Chefspike, and Elwood, lived near there before he became a famous actor! Maybe we should include that on the Movie Stars Homes Tour! :) )
But seriously, I suggest that you and your husband check out Shaw's Guide To Cooking Schools and find a reputable community college program in your state, if you cannot relocate.

I cannot comment if your husband is clinically diagnosed as crazy, but as most of us who work in this industry concede, that we must be crazy for enduring the long hours, poor treatment, low wages, lack of financial security(work is very seasonal in my part of the country), benefits, etc.
Please bear in mind that he will unlikely find a job as an executive chef upon graduation with a salary of $60,000/year. I was told by a GRCC chef-instructor last year who had attended the CIA, and taught at NECI, that according to their own statistics, 90% of their graduates had left the industry by the 10th year after graduation.

Chefjoannam, Foodpump, Cookingfresh, are all correct. There is constant standing, lifting, exposure to heat, hot stoves, ovens, charbroilers, steamers, grease, blood, sharp machinery, cutlery, and stress. He would be working long hours, evenings, nights, weekends, holidays.
If he were a baker, he would likely be working the graveyard shift, not to mention, frequent lifting, kneading, scoring, panning, dumping, etc. He would do far better by doing what you are doing--nursing!
Work can be seasonal. He could be fired due to office politics, age discrimination, not being bilingual(usually Spanish), etc. (Read WanaBe a Chef: to all you aspiring chefs by Kchef.)

Yes, I can speak from personal experience that it is difficult to change careers in middle age. Jobs are difficult to find. When you're over 40, there is age discrimination as well. Let your husband comprehend completely that the cooking trade is a ruthless one--it takes no prisoners, and gives no quarter. :(
Keep us apprised of your husband's decision.

By Chefjoannam (Chefjoannam) on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 06:39 pm: Edit

I'm glad I wasn't the only one to gloom-and-doom on this poor woman and her husband. The way I look at it, I'm 35 and I've only got about a dozen more years before knees/hips/back/mind give out and I'm reduced to finding a new way to make a living.

and, ahem, foodpump, the HUSBANDS are crazy. The wives are only crazy if they're chefs themselves.

By Foodpump (Foodpump) on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 07:25 pm: Edit

Who, me crazy? Nah, it happened a long time ago....

By Andapanda (Andapanda) on Thursday, March 09, 2006 - 02:01 pm: Edit

Doom and Gloom, eh? I didn't see any proverbial unkempt, shaggy, scruffy, old man around here with a sandwich board sign, proclaiming: The End is Near! Well, not yet anyway. :)

Paratroopers say that they're crazy for jumping out of perfectly functioning airplanes. Likewise, we must be crazy for choosing this trade. :(
What?! You didn't get any lucrative offers to do any toothpaste commercials either?
I wonder if any aspiring chefs(prospective culinary students) out there would ever realize that the cooking trade is not glamourous?
Hey, when will celebrity-hair stylists be in vogue again? Maybe people will sign up for cosmetology programs instead? Perhaps they could cut the hair of, and shave, all those unkempt, scraggy, scruffy, culinary artistes[sic] coming out of culinary schools posing as chefs, eh? K

Ask your husband to read the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, for:

Chefs, Cooks, and Food Preparation Workers,

Food Processing Occupations[including baking],

Hotels and Other Accommodations.

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