The first thought that runs through my mind when asked for advice by a young and aspiring cook is: Go to med school! Stay in school as long as you can. Let your parents support you as long as they're willing. And do not, under any circumstances, take a full-time job that requires 100 percent focus, dedication and physical stamina until you absolutely, positively have to!
Just kidding. Sort of.
What I really want to ask is, "Do you really know what it's like to be a cook? Can you work a 10-plus hour shift in 95-plus degrees, with barely enough break time to use the restroom? Can you dress your own and other peoples' occasional burns and cuts without passing out? Can you take direction without getting twisted up, and produce the special requests that guests demand? Do you use pressure as inspiration and work through your tears, or will you shut down and fall apart?"
The fact is that none of these things matter, if cooking and creating new and exciting food is really what you want to do for a living. You forget about the heat, you respect the new burn in your collection, and you excitedly accept the challenges thrown your way every day. That’s what being a cook is about. Anyone can cook; but it takes a special person to be a cook.
Any cooks, chefs or other restaurant professionals out there? What was the best advice you got when first embarking on your career path?
John Miller — Windsor, CA — October 22, 2007 7:18pm ET
Robert Fukushima — California — October 24, 2007 3:03pm ET
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions