So you want to work in the Food Industry? I have two things to say to you: congratulations and good luck.
The food industry is one of the most dynamic fields to work in today. The landscape of the food industry is always changing and there are always new and wonderful opportunities for you to experience and join this great industry.
However, I do have a few words of caution for those would-be chefs who want to come into the industry, and the only experience they have is what they saw on Food Network or Travel Channel. To those people I say, for your own sanity and well-being, DON’T DO IT. At least not until you get some REAL experience. As someone who is currently getting the “Trial By Fire” treatment in the food industry, I can say with 100% accuracy that if you don’t have what it takes to make it in the food world, then either get some real, hands-on experience or don’t even bother trying.
I’m not being negative, I’m speaking the truth here. I’ve seen a good handful of people who started with me at the CIA leave and never come back, because they just couldn’t handle the kitchen life. The long hours. The back-breaking labor. The sometimes insufferable coworkers. The never-satisfied customers. The high risk of injury. These are all realities in the food/restaurant industry, and I will be the first to admit, I contemplated leaving. As much as this is my dream, I entertained the thought of walking away. But, I found my second wind. Amidst the taunting of my coworkers and the pain of the job, I found my resolve to go on. I’m still not 100% at the level of the hardened veterans that I work with, but I am getting there. I’m earning my spot through the pain and the hard work that I put in.
Again, I don’t want to sound elitist or off-putting to all you would-be chefs out there, but at the same time, I feel the need to dispel a few myths and misconceptions that you may have about the food industry. Get this into your head now if you truly do want to join this intense and dynamic industry: it’s NEVER going to be as neat, nice and easy as it is on the Food Network or the Travel Channel. The work is intense and exhausting (there’s a reason why I reach for a bottle of beer at the end of each shift). The risk for injury is sky-high. Your coworkers will berate you. Your boss will be in-your-face and at times, unforgiving. Customers will find some reason to complain about your food, no matter how much work you put into it. In all honesty, FIND SOME WAY TO DEAL WITH THOSE REALITIES. Those are aspects of the food industry that will never, ever change, and yet, those crazy few who do survive this industry, do what they do because of one very simple reason: they LOVE doing it. That is what you must have, above all else in this industry; a PASSION for food.
Find your passion and you will have a way to overcome any obstacle that the food industry may throw your way. And from the bottom of my heart, as someone who is still climbing the ladder in this industry, to those who want to start the climb themselves: I wish you the best of luck on your journey.