Most cooks strive to become a Chef. Most Chefs just want to cook. It is a vicious cycle of figuring out what you want in your culinary Career. Let’s Break it down into steps:

  1. Let’s say you just graduated from Culinary school at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA). You’ve learned everything there is to know in those books they gave you and you’ve aced all the hands-on demos you had to do. You’re a Chef now right?
  2. You’ve landed a job at your local prestigious Country Club. Chef rolls out the red carpet for you as you enter, right? Wrong. You are green and haven’t worked in a commercial kitchen yet- but how much different could it be from the ones at the CIA?
  3. You’ve been placed on salads and desserts making $12hr. Not to worry your almost six-digit student debt loans will be paid off once the Chef there sees you can name all the mother sauces. You start to notice all the cooks around you and the pace that they work at, how their motions flow and they seem to work at twice your speed, that’s because they are. Years and decades of working in the Hospitality industry has made them the machines they are and the one you hope to become.
  4. Fast forward 3 years, now you are on grill and sauté, while also helping the banquet chef out with all of the onsite caterings. Juggling ten things at once and making that premium cook money- life is good.
  5. Another 2 years has gone by, you are among the veterans now, earning your stripes and commanding your job. Now an opportunity comes along for you to be the Sous Chef of the operation and you take it. Why wouldn’t you, everyone wants to move up right? Suddenly you are now hit with managing people, making schedules, doing some ordering and coming up with new menu items. A lot of Responsibility but it is what you wanted after all.
  6. After almost a decade of being in the Grind, the Current Executive Chef retires and you are their replacement. Finally, the kitchen will be run exactly the way you want it to be but you’re so busy with all your new-found responsibilities; Answering emails, balancing your budget, balancing payroll, controlling food cost, employee morale, etc. Then it hits you at the end of the shift “All I really want to do is cook” but cooking isn’t really a main responsibility of the Executive Chef. Managing, training and overseeing the staff who do the cooking, is the job of the Executive Chef, but hey at least your chipping away at that student debt faster.

Next time you go out to eat and think the Executive Chef is actually the one making your meal, think again.