just a brief word concerning the overall image of the restaurant industry, or more exactly, the life of a chef & restaurant owner.
When I started on my career conversion “thing” over 2 years ago, I decided that I should start by asking people what they thought of changing from being a Senior IT Consultant to being a Chef. Well, it has to be said that the almost 100% reaction was a negative one.
Yes, there’s no doubt, everyone thought that it was a magical idea, and there’s no doubt that the subject of cookery was much more interesting to people at a party, for example, than that of IT Consultant ! However, when it came to their opinion regarding actually stopping working in an office and getting behind the stove….well, their opinion changed rather radically.
“You must be mad !!”
“You’re going to go from a good salary and 45/50 hours a week to a crap salary and 80/100 hours a week !!!”
No joke….I must have asked the opinion of over 50 people, all from varying backgrounds…..from our cleaner who comes for 2 hours once per week (there’s something that might have to stop, come to think of it !), to other chefs and restaurant owners in Paris, to friends, to Cookery School teachers, and even to TV personnalities !!! All without exception mentioned one of the 2 above quotes (or both, or others !), all actively encouraging me not to enter the crazy, stress-ridden world of Chefs and restaurant ownership.
The TV Personality deserves a little explanation – just before Christmas 2006, my Mother in Law (belle mère) went to the FNAC to buy me a cookery book by Jean-Pierre Coffe (a well known French cookery radio and TV personality who defends traditional French cuisine and local products) based on a TV series he takes part in “Vivement Dimanche”. As it happened, he was there in person doing a book signing. Lydia told M. Coffe about my project and he bascially advised me to stay in consulting, keeping la cuisine as a passion (rather than a job).
Anyway, my point is that I received very little encouragement (from outside of my close circle of family and friends, that is) and this seems to be a general problem with the restaurant trade. Even though chefs are hugely admired (here, in the UK, over in the States and elsewhere, I imagine), the actual industry (and the hours and the pay !) seem universally to be shunned / criticised…especially by youngsters. As a result, in my build up to starting my cookery course I read as much as I could on chefs who were passionate about cooking. This gave me the burning desire & positive image that I needed (especially a series of articles about and the autobiography by Gordon Ramsay).
I will certainly endeavour to be as positive about my new trade whenever I talk about it. Sure there are plenty of negative aspects, but the burning passion is one huge positive that (at the moment) outshines all problems. I know that I’ll ahve difficult times ahead…..but then I had many when I was a consultant….at least these “difficult times” will concern something that makes me tick and is a real passion !
Vive la Cuisine !!!