Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Careers for Gourmets & Others Who Relish Food

I went to the library last night and found this little red book nestled in with the cookbooks. Careers for Gourmets and Others Who Relish Food is a book that is supposed to "help you find your own personal recipe for success."

If you're like me and have a love of food, you have probably had someone tell you, "You really should own your own restaurant."

At which I always mentally respond: no way! Give up my personal time, my family life, work long hours and face the very real likelihood of having my business fail?! I don't think so.

But lately, probably as a result of getting older, I have begun to appreciate the whole 'you only have one life to live' thing. And, subsequently, I have been reconsidering my standard response that the idea of owning a food-related business.

Now, my response is maybe.

If it was well-planned and well-thought out. If it wouldn't kill my personal life. If I didn't have to put up my future house as collateral. Lots of 'ifs'!

I really admire Vicki at The Moveable Feast for having a successful career in food, but is it possible that I can do that, too? And more importantly, would I want a career in food? As I explore this question, maybe you, too, can answer this for yourself.

The book says that you have to take careful stock of what you know about yourself, and how those personal traits of yours stack up against some of the harsher realities of the culinary arts.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Q. Will you be happy working with food, every single day?
Try to be realistic as possible about how you would feel, cooking all day long, every single day. Not every aspect of cooking is fun. A lot of the work is tedious and repetitive.

Q. Are you confident you can work with others as part of a team?
This work is both physical and mental, and it is definitely demanding. When you find yourself stressed to your limit, you need the maturity and calmness to dig down a little deeper and find the energy to keep going without throwing a tantrum.

Q. How do you feel about working on holidays?
It is not uncommon to have to work 10, 12, or even more hours in a row from time to time. The work is exhausting and grueling, and, more often than not, you will be tired, dirty, and worn out at the end of a shift. There are always days when you will wonder why you ever chose a job that keep you from joining in with family celebrations like Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, and Mother's Day.

There is lots of stuff to consider before starting any business. And considering that over 57% of franchised restaurants and around 61% of independent restaurants fail within the first three years, I guess we should try to consider all of the realities of owning a food-related business before leaping.

I found these comments from the article on business failure rates very interesting:

"Many of the failed restaurant owners attributed their failure partly to family issues such as divorce, poor health or simply a desire to retire," Parsa said.

All mentioned the immense time commitments that a restaurant requires.

"The successful owners were either very good at balancing their family and work lives or single or divorced. The failed owners were no longer willing to make those familial sacrifices."

Food for thought!! Dawn


Kristi said...

Interesting book, and definitely some "food for thought." (ohhh..that was a bad pun.) I watch Recipe for Success on the Food Network all the time (have you seen it?), and I often watch these former bankers, designers, and software developers throw their old careers away and delve into their passion-creating a business around food-and think to myself "I would LOVE to do that!"

Now, I am certainly no cook, but I do love to bake, and I think it would be so rewarding to do something you love for a living. But also a big risk as well.

Dawn said...

Hi Kristi! I used to watch Recipe for Success, but I don't like the new format and host as well as the old. I found that show highly motivational, yet realistic. A good balance!

I would consider myself a decent cook, but whenever I've thought about owning a food business, I really try to keep that in mind and only consider things that would really match with my skill level. A low-key diner with limited offerings might be down my alley. It's always a big risk, so I try to think of ways to try out a food career on a smaller scale, investing/risking less.

vlb5757 said...

Dawn first let me say how happy I am to see you are back!! I have missed your posts. Take it slow and pace yourself.

Since I am a chef, I wanted to comment on the food industry. It's a hard and demanding business with not so great pay unless you become the "flavor of the month". As much as I would love to work in a commercial kitchen again, my level of dedication vs. my life style don't match. I want my weekends, holidays and nights off. Granite I don't make as much money as I could but I am happy and have a personal life. I admire those chefs who can balance it all and still have a happy life. I was not one who could balance those things well so I chose to lessen my cooking time and step up my personal life. I have been married 27 years and am not sure I would have stayed married had I worked 80 hours a week. Not everyone who has a passion for food should become a chef and not every chef has a passion for what they do. So finding that balance is hard. It's funny that I am a chef who wants to be a sheep farmer. Go figure! Life is funny that way. Great article!