March 12, 2010

When you ask I will tell you...

A friend recently asked, 
"my younger daughter is obsessed w/cooking. (Julie/Julia & Ratatoille are faves). She, as a freshman, is now talking career path in the culinary arts. Advice?"
Here is what I gave her...
read... about the industry, about businesses, find favorite cooks and chefs and study what they do and say. Some of my favorites are Julia Child, Peter Reinhart (a fantastic bread chef and I love baking bread), Alton Brown (love food science), Darina Allen (she runs a restaurant completely on local products), Nigella Lawson (for her food writing skills), Melissa Kelly (for her organic whole foods attitudes)... etc... find your niche and what you love through this process.

Find a good established program that has instructors that know their stuff and are great at teaching it all. She is young and single and this is easier to do before you have a family because you are not limited to where you can move and go to school. I am limited to what I have locally but if I had the time and finances I would go study with Peter Reinhart in a heartbeat or go do the Ballymaloe program in Ireland The sky is the limit when you are young and free. ;)

Go in with an attitude of humbleness and ready to learn. I see so many students who come in thinking they already know everything and it turns my stomach. They are not open to learning and they will never be all they can be with that attitude. Be pliable in a good kind of way and learn everything you can and read everything you can. You will get out of the program what you put into the program.

Find a college or university and don't just go to a vocational program. Get that full degree and join organizations where you can get journals and go to convention and workshop stuff outside of school I love my ACF journal every month and they have a student publication, too, that is quite good.

Know that the industry has a lot of crude people in it and it is not so Christian friendly all the time... I know you guys are Christian, too, so this is important for you. Be your own person and stand your ground on your beliefs... know what you believe before you get thrown into this world. It is so possible but not always easy. The rest of the world does not see things the way we do and the food industry is no different.

Get some mentoring from a reliable honorable source. If there is a local restaurant or bakery that you know you can work in do it now... get some job and industry experience before you go and that will give you a better idea of whether you want to be there or not.

This is a starter list but good stuff to consider. I hope this helps. :)

Oh, and one more thing... it is NOT glamorous. The people on food network are the stars but the real work is behind the scenes by the hardworking people who cut the food and prep the ingredients and clean the place at the end of it all. It is hard work and often 18 hours a day or more once you are in the industry. I wash a TON of dishes and clean out refrigerators and mop floors and scrub walls and that is all part of it. Be a servant at heart and it makes all of that so much easier.... none of us are too good to clean up and if we cook then we are expected to clean. That is part of it. Have a servant's heart in this endeavor...

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