Surviving as a chef: Money Vs. Knowledge. Blog by Frank Davie

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st April 2016
Money is the final goal of any human living in modern times. You go to school with the ultimate goal of educating yourself so you can either jump straight into the world of work or proceed onto another four years of study in the hopes of achieving a degree. All of this evolves around that one material that is so widely available but somehow so difficult to muster: money. An entity that spins the world in the palm of its hand and boasts the ultimate goal for any human unlucky enough to be born on this planet. No education? No cash. henry fordThe hospitality industry annihilates this philosophy. Education in partnership with money is barely a splatter of puree on the wall of the chef world. Even cookery courses are a humble small print to the experience category on a chef’s CV. It’s almost obsolete. The education section of a CV is like a blind spot to the head chef while previous experience glimmers and glistens a striking gold. This industry doesn’t care about how hard you studied the rise of Hitler to conquer Poland in the 1930s. And that shiny trophy you won on sports day probably isn’t relevant either. All the chef really cares about is how precisely you can dice a carrot, a shallot, a handful of pak choi and if you, the amateur, can handle the heat of the kitchen under a poor wage and infinite hours of stress. Frank Davie quoteThe average annual salary of chefs in the UK is a measly £23,000. But you can expect to be scraping £15,000 maximum with a teaspoon of luck throughout the first years of your career. Grafting and grinding away at the bottom of the pile is probably one of the most challenging and volatile ascensions to success any work sector has to offer on the planet. It takes thousands of hours worth of blood, sweat, tears, burns and sleep deprivation to bring home just a few lardons of bacon. It’s harder than a frozen avocado seed. It’s a seemingly endless quest that tests every slice of an aspiring chef’s motivation, character and passion. The money you earn at the dawn of your career in the kitchen might pay for your chef-bourne impulses. At times you can afford cigarettes, alcohol, gambling coupons, train tickets, food, shelter and decent blow out with your fellow chefs. But I myself have sat in a room with four blank walls, no cigarettes, food, WiFi, money or any hope of obtaining that one feeling I’d been deprived of for the previous 168 hours of my life: pleasure. It was just a few buttons away – a petty call to my mum and I would have been revoked into the comfort of my childhood haven with the constant fear and hardship of work abolished. This do or die situation was my awakening. A revelation that flicked the on switch of sheer determination in my brain and told me as clear as consommé that I wanted to be a chef, in spite of how impossible my undying cravings for a life seemed. Sacrifice is not a choice for a chef but a necessity. You don’t get to taste the cream until you’ve finished your dinner and thrown away more than a few things, namely a decent salary and a social life. It summons the question: why bother? What are the rewards behind this culinary auschwitz? E James RohnThe answer is of course experience and therefore knowledge. It smashes money one thousand times out of one thousand. The title of this article is a trick question. Money is simply out of the equation, throw it away like a bouquet garni. You can’t buy your way up the ladder, you must grab it with two hands and pull yourself up with all your might. But with the sacrifice on the way comes unprecedented rewards. It’s an incredible journey, one of which I am merely beginning. It’s a personal evolution that will make you stronger, faster, harder and a million times more attractive to the world. A few zeros in your bank account can’t touch that. The final goal? A legacy of experiences, knowledge and the ultimate version of you as a chef. You can look back and think wow, I made it. You, unlike the office dwellers, will have stories to tell your children. A blog from an erratically ambitious chef with one foot in the hospitality industry and the other desperately trying to run away. You can read more of Frank's blog posts here

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st April 2016

Surviving as a chef: Money Vs. Knowledge. Blog by Frank Davie