David Lebovitz did a great job recently on answering a lot of FAQs, so I encourage you to check out his comprehensive post. It's from a professional point of view, and he's had a lot of experience in both the US and France. You can also check out my cooking school category to see all my blog posts from my time in cooking school, as well as my internships category to see what I've been up to.
Many people ask me what I did and am currently doing after culinary school. They're usually interested because they are thinking of making a career change and wonder what opportunities are out there. My interests lie in writing, teaching, and testing- not restaurant work. In some ways, it is difficult to break into these aspects of the culinary world- usually restaurant experience is required or preferred.
But I've been lucky and have been given a lot of interesting opportunities. Here is a list of some of the things I've done / are doing so that you can see what opportunities are out there. Some of these I acquired by pure luck, some by working hard and networking:
- Culinary tour guide in Paris through Context: Travel. I was fortunate enough to share my love of Paris and food by leading English-speaking tours through some of the best outdoor food markets in Paris. If I was still living in Paris, I would still be doing this!
- Internship at Jacques Cagna in Paris. Friends hooked me up with a one-week internship at this one-Michelin star in the Latin Quarter. I learned a lot, including just how hot and intense a kitchen gets during a full service. I loved it but realized that I'm not interested in full-time restaurant work.
- Internship at America's Test Kitchen in Boston. Being one of "America's foremost tasters and testers" was a real privilege, and I learned a lot about recipe testing and techniques. It also gave me a chance to work on a variety of projects, as well as meet a bunch of really experienced cooks and chefs. I'll be working on the filming of the television show for the 2007 season next month- yay! Maybe you'll see me chopping mounds of onions in the background, who knows?
- Teaching at Create a Cook in Boston. This is a cute & fun children's cooking school. I love sharing my knowledge about food, and it's amazing to see kids pick up new skills and try foods they usually wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole at home. Never thought you could get your kids to try fish sauce? They will if it's in a recipe that they cook themselves!
So as you can see, in a short year and a half, I've been able to experience a lot. Unfortunately, it's still hard to find a full-time, stable position. The sad reality is that most culinary internships are unpaid, and the culinary world is usually not financially rewarding. But if you love what you're doing, your life and outlook on life is so much better. I'm trying hard to get a few projects underway while enjoying all that I'm doing now, including more teaching positions and maybe even a cookbook. It's all new to me, but I can't see myself doing anything else.