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  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by taf2002 View Post
    I'm surprised about the $10-12 an hour. We have a friend who has managed several restaurants - good but not 5 star, more like 3 star, & his chefs all made a really good living. And the chains like Macaroni Grill & Applebee's apparently pay just as good. Would a graduate of a good cooking school really start at only $10-12?
    If they *want* to work for a chain restaurant, no. Unfortunately, most graduates of tippy-top culinary instituttes want to work for notable, unique restaurants or chefs.

    A friend's grandson graduated from CIA about 18 months ago, and that included a number of externships at notable NYC restaurants where he found places to crash with friends. Then the first job at one of those places prepping veggies and cleaning salad greens, for not much at all. Then a first job back here at a sister low-end restaurant to a nationally-acclaimed restaurant, for just a little bit more. Then a low end job at the highly acclaimed restaurant, and a little (little) bit more. Some of these jobs were off the books, and I don't think any of them had benefits.

    Now he's off in San Francisco. Beat the streets and found a low end job at a high end restaurant; six months later he's moved up to being a line cook and is making enough money to pay for a very small apartment w/girlfriend & using his bike to commute. Doing some catering on the side in people's homes. He loves it, but it is a very low-income life still, and he doesn't have college debt. This job does have health insurance of some kind, and the head chef has been calling him in for extra work and special projects, so he's on a bit of a fast track.

    I've had his cooking, and it is amazing. But I've no idea what he'd do if he had a bunch of college debt hanging over his head. My impression is that he's now up to the $30K a year level, which doesn't go all that far in San Francisco.

    I would not go into debt for this unless you had a clear path to a job with a chain or hotel that would pay a reasonable salary, and even then I would not go far into debt.

  2. #22

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    I realize this is something not in your interest zone but FWIW, I have a college friend whose dad works fairly high up at Marriott. A few years ago anyway (not sure if it has changed), Marriott considered a McDonald’s management position better than a college degree. Apparently, the training at McDonalds is spot on for restaurant and hotel management. And it’s free. That doesn’t have the cache of a fancy restaurant but I’m thinking the pay is fairly decent and has a career path to larger chains and a little more upscale food.
    Figure skating is hard.

  3. #23
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    snoopy that's a good tip. Another reason to consider a career path in hotel restaurants is that they often have good career training programs to help you move up the ladder, plus benefits and more job stability than a restaurant that might close at any minute. And perhaps the best part - lots of internal job opportunities that could see you transferred to other cities and around the world. Some of the best restaurants in the world are in hotels.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scintillation View Post
    Well according to my friend who has been pushing me to come out there and live with him, it's the only place where you can see a guy walking with a cat perched atop his head.
    You can visit for a week and see that if you really want to.

  5. #25

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    You can tell your friend that if you really need to see a cat on someone's head, that's what YouTube is for
    "Me, cutie/chicken, the egg cup, I am the hammer of my spoon!"--Jen_Faith translation

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scintillation View Post
    Well according to my friend who has been pushing me to come out there and live with him, it's the only place where you can see a guy walking with a cat perched atop his head.
    Nothing to do with cooking here, but my co-worker went to NYC for vacation over Labor Day and has a picture of a guy walking around with a cat on his head! Is there only one guy or is this a club?????? :-)

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by taf2002 View Post
    I'm surprised about the $10-12 an hour. We have a friend who has managed several restaurants - good but not 5 star, more like 3 star, & his chefs all made a really good living. And the chains like Macaroni Grill & Applebee's apparently pay just as good. Would a graduate of a good cooking school really start at only $10-12?
    Um...if you don't mind working for them (and I wouldn't, I'm not a snob), the franchises' major advantage is not higher pay, as it's about the same 10-12 range, but that chains usually have benefits like health insurance. The one-off places will almost NEVER do.

    And if your friend is a MANAGER, that's entirely different. As is "chef." I'm not a chef, and almost no one out of school becomes one right off. A chef is a manager. Yes, in small places they often cook, but they're not there just to prepare food, they're doing a lot of business admin type things, too, like purchasing, food costs, hiring for their side, dealing with the front of house. If you are lucky enough to not start as dishwasher or prep (a culinary degree will usually let you skip being a dishwasher at least and go right to prep cook) you'll be a line cook.

    Really, it's not a glamorous profession and it's rarely all that profitable. I do it mostly because when I can't find work for my real degree, someone's always hiring cooks (which tells you about the job turnover right there.)

  8. #28
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    I wouldn't mind working for a chain, particularly if they offer benefits. I'm planning on keeping my retail job while I'm in school so I can hold on to those benefits. My boss is letting me stay on full-time but she'll cut me down to 32 hrs/week. I should have enough extra time to do stages at restaurants around town.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scintillation View Post
    I wouldn't mind working for a chain, particularly if they offer benefits. I'm planning on keeping my retail job while I'm in school so I can hold on to those benefits. My boss is letting me stay on full-time but she'll cut me down to 32 hrs/week. I should have enough extra time to do stages at restaurants around town.
    ....Um...how many class hours/day are there? I'm not saying that you can't do a job and culinary school at the same time, but a job, culinary school, shifts at restaurants...I think you might be underestimating how tired you will be. Especially if you're in a bakery job with early hours, school during the day--restaurant shifts are usually something like 2-10 or later and you're on your feet the entire time.

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by danceronice View Post
    .restaurant shifts are usually something like 2-10 or later and you're on your feet the entire time.
    Unless you're an early bird and are very good at breaking down meat or prepping fish! I work with a guy here (software job) who meets the chef/owner at the fish market then hacks them up before he comes to work here.
    AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan

  11. #31
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    Well I'll have a couple of days off from work each week, and classes are just 4 hours a day monday-friday. And I don't work at the bakery anymore, I just have a retail sales job. I had both for a year but working 14 hour days where you can look like crap at one job but have to look super nice and trendy at the other was getting to be too much. The retail job offered me a full time manager position with a raise and benefits so I took it and quit the bakery.
    I'd rather work 14 hour days with the option to look like shit the whole day. Makes life easier.

  12. #32

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    You mentioned how the food industry in your area is just taking off. You can be a part of that growth, and that can be exciting.

  13. #33
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    My DD is an Exec Chef. She went to Johnson & Wales University in NC. This was her career choice and even the NYC college advisors recommended JWU or other colleges with culinary programs rather than CIA or FCI. The logic was, if you're spending that much money on education, you should receive a college degree (AA/BA) when you're done. You can always take a few classes at CIA or FCI in your specialty, which is what several JWU Pastry&Baking alumnas have done for bread. My DD's friends have said that they were better prepared for the FCI classes than the students who were enrolled in the programs.

    Disney's internship program is incredible, but there's tremendous competition for the few open slots. Their veterans rave about the experience since it's used as a training program. They all said they learned far more in that program than they would have just by being free labor at a local place. Many of the restaurant and hotel chains offer benefits to their staff, some including even tuition reimbursement, so you can save money by working there and going to school part-time.

    In terms of the Manhattan restaurants, they hire the cheapest labor they can get and they work them as hard as they can, but they're so focused on the bottom line that there isn't much you can do to grow as an entry-level chef. You wouldn't be missing much by attending the local program and interning in a growing area. It sounds like a dynamic, grassroots opportunity.


    Just my 2¢

    I'm a third-gen native NYC resident and every time I go back to visit, I remember why we moved away. The whole "Manhattan=NYC" experience is pretty overrated, imo, but there are some people on this board who love living there. My cousin's kids all moved to Manhattan after college, living in apartments the size of their bedrooms at home, but they love the experience. You could do the local program and reward yourself after finishing by trying the NYC scene for a few months and taking a few course at FIA. If it doesn't work out, move back to your current area.
    Last edited by FigureSpins; 09-28-2012 at 01:55 PM.

  14. #34
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    I thought it would be great to live there for a couple of years, but no way did I want to stay there forever. And the school here is offering an associates degree, so I'm doing that rather than just a certificate. I do have a bachelors in music already, which hopefully will come into use and get me out of doing all the gen ed classes they require. I know, shocking. How could I not want to take english, psychology, and math again?

    Actually when I think about it, the noise and the crowds was starting to get to me after being there for only a week. Oh, the places to eat though. I would've been broke after 2 weeks of living there.

  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scintillation View Post
    Oh, the places to eat though. I would've been broke after 2 weeks of living there.
    Eh, you'd probably get over it quickly enough when the rent comes due. My friend, a NYC culinary school graduate who isn't working behind a line because who the hell can make their rent working behind a line in NYC, lives in Manhattan and quite often comes back after having dropped $200 on a meal and laments "Why did I bother? I could have done a better job in my own kitchen for a lot less money."

    In other words he has the spiritual satisfaction of having completed culinary school and has plenty of debt to show for it, but a kitchen job? Nope. Can't afford to pay his NYC rent on those wages. Those days are gone and they ain't coming back. This area of the country is ridiculously and prohibitively expensive. It's over, baby.

    And that whole "cat on the head" thing? You can see that anywhere. You can also see Starbucks anywhere.
    The fastest thing out of New Jersey since Tricky Nicky in a Muscovian handbasket

  16. #36
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    After all that agonizing last week I'm actually pretty excited to stay here now. My friend and I are already talking about being roommates (soo much cheaper to split the rent in half), there's plenty of awesome places to do internships, and I can keep my full-time job. And the cost of living is lower! And maybe (probably not) we can get a dog! Not likely, but the dream is there! And oh! I get to do some serious looking at Ikea! Not too much buying, but I will be looking.

  17. #37
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    Bravo! I hope everything goes smoothly.

  18. #38
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    Sounds like a plan! You do NOT need to be in NYC to have a real career in cooking.

  19. #39
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    True, but no need to give up on the dream entirely. When I was a teen I dreamed of living in NY, and it took me until I was 40 (bit harder when you are not an American citizen). It was a crazy risk at the time, but living and working in NY for 3 years was a fabulous experience I'll always be glad I had.

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