Every once in a while, I think about what it would be like to run off to culinary school and become a chef. Admit it, you think about it, too. Yeah, it would be tough, but you figure you'll pay your dues and then go on to untold success and fortune, opening a chain of restaurants and becoming the next Thomas Keller.
In reality, chances are that I would be more likely to end up a fry-cook at a greasy spoon than head chef at a three star restaurant.
Of course, none of this is to say that some of you aren't cut out for a career in food service. If you go into it fully aware of the stresses of the job, the nature of the kinds of positions that you'll be offered upon graduation from culinary school and the fact that success is much more about hard work than natural talent, then you stand a pretty good chance.
According to an Associated Press article, however, it seems that the dramatic increase in the number of culinary school enrolees over the past few years has resulted in a difficult job market and a number of disillusioned, debt-addled graduates. And, according Kim Curtis, the Food Network and other food programs may be to blame.
The problem is an obvious one. The public gets to see celebrity chefs at the height of their fame, long after they have put in the years and years of effort to get there. But all we get to see is the glamor.
The Food Network reaches 87 million homes and attracts half a million viewers a day. And these aren't your mother's cooking shows. Television chefs — notably Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis and Anthony Bourdain — are bona fide celebrities.
Even with the reality competition shows like Hell's Kitchen and Top Chef, which feature unknown contestants fighting it out for a chance at the big prize, the rags-to-riches scenario bears as much resemblance to most chefs' experience as The Real World bears to...well...the real world.
It's an interesting read, particularly if you've ever harbored the fantasy of turning your hobby into a career, and it reinforces your appreciation and admiration of those who are able to find success in this increasingly difficult field.
Labels: Food Network