In the last post I wrote about lawn care and landscaping as a good example of how someone could start with virtually nothing and move up through a series of steps to build a substantial business. Another example is a career in food preparation and the culinary world. It too, is a hard business with a lot of competition, yet again, a field where the entry level can lead to great things or you can find a comfortable spot in between.
I’ve done a number of restaurant stories for the local weekly paper, with a view to the story of how the restaurant started rather than simply as a review of the food and atmosphere. In addition, I recently became aware of a local adult education program that is really quite comprehensive. It is made even more so because the woman who is in charge of the program understands that in the food world, your background matters far less than your passion and willingness to work hard. And hard work it is. There’s no question about that. And yet, if you talk to a lot of people who own or manage restaurants, see how many of them started out bussing tables and washing dishes.
Even the celebrity chefs who have cooking shows, books, go on tour – yes, they got some incredible breaks along the way, but a number of them did not attend a prestigious culinary school initially. And many of them who own restaurants keep an eye open for employees who show the desire to move up within the culinary world. They often take employees who start out in an entry level, see the promise of a chef-to-be, and either mentor the individual or provide other training.
The big chain restaurants and even a lot of fast food chains usually have management trainees programs for employees that demonstrate interest and work ethic. And while flipping burgers in a fast food place may not be glamourous, it can definitely be a building block. Aside from restaurants, there are the tens of thousands of “cafeteria ladies”, people who work in food preparation for schools, hospitals, and other institutions. The point of the adult education program that I am talking about is that food preparation and culinary arts can be an entry level career when you are starting out, or as a later career. It is something to consider if you are, or someone who know, is at a crossroads.