The new year is just beginning and it’s a great time to make plans for your future. Whether you’ve recently graduated from one of our programs or you’re just getting started, taking time to think about your culinary goals is a great idea.
Setting culinary goals helps you stay focused during your studies and while you’re searching for your first job in the food and hospitality industry. We’ll provide you with instruction on skills to pursue a rewarding career. We’re here to help you figure out where you want your training to take you…so let’s get started with some simple questions.
- What do you want to cook?
- How high up the kitchen hierarchy do you want to climb?
- What matters to you the most as you serve your guests?
Now let’s explore a little deeper…
Consider your values.
Taking the time to identify and understand your personal values and beliefs is just as important as the time you’ll spend honing your skills in the classroom and in the kitchen. Our students graduate with a range of skills they can use in all sorts of culinary environments: Restaurants, food trucks, hotels, convention centers, institutions…some even become personal or private chefs.
Everyone has a different goal. Some want to make their mark as a culinary pioneer and run their own restaurant, and they’re happy to work the crazy hours. Others want a stable income in a Monday-to-Friday job that gives them the freedom to enjoy time for leisure or family.
There’s no wrong path to follow, just be sure to identify which path you, personally, want to take after you’ve graduated. You might pursue further education to specialize or decide to travel…the possibilities are endless.
Keep in mind, your culinary goals and aspirations may evolve over time as your knowledge, circumstances or opportunities change. Be open to that change – you have the solid education to back you up on this journey.
“I want to work in a five-star restaurant” isn’t a culinary goal, but it’s the beginnings of one.
What kind of restaurant do you want to work in, and where? Be specific about the style of cuisine, the location, and how long you intend to take in order to achieve that goal…and how long you plan to remain before setting a new goal.
Be sure your goals are realistic. It’s great to set the bar high for your career achievement, but keep obvious limitations like finances, the ability to relocate, or family commitments in mind as you plan your future.
Expand your life experience beyond the kitchen.
Don’t limit yourself to the kitchen when you’re building your foundation of knowledge. This is particularly important if you aspire to become an executive chef someday. Your cooking skills are a must, of course, but it would be wise to take a business class in your spare time.
You’ll find out if you have an aptitude for running your own restaurant – a new goal on your horizon if you have the makings of an entrepreneur. You won’t know unless you explore that option though further education.
Experiment with other styles of cuisine – try something unique, perhaps from another culture. Testing your ability to adapt to a new culinary style will enrich your life and possibly reveal a skill you didn’t know you had until you tried. It will make you a more versatile cook, as well, which helps with job prospects down the road.
Keep pushing yourself.
Dr. Edwin Locke wrote a highly informative paper in 1968 that addressed the concepts of motivation and incentives, and how they inspire action and growth. He suggested that the end goal isn’t necessarily the greatest motivator; it was the work itself that drove people to succeed.
How does this relate to setting your culinary goals? It means that you shouldn’t be afraid to set lofty goals for yourself – like eventually working in a 5-star restaurant – but also find ways to perfect your craft with smaller goals. For example, figuring out ways to shave time off your mincing or chopping, or mastering a dish you thought was too complex.
Challenging yourself with an everyday task you haven’t perfected yet gives you something to chase, even if that pursuit is simply refining a skill that might save you time and energy. You’ll reap greater rewards in your daily work life and grow as a culinary artist in the process, and get that much closer to achieving your “lofty” dream.
Things you need to know about achieving your dreams.
We love watching our students push themselves, and we also know that sometimes reaching a goal can be a mixed blessing. We encourage you to be realistic about what it’s going to look like when you capture your first “dream job.”
Stress. You’re probably going to be more stressed than you imagined you could be, and that’s okay, just be prepared for it.
You’ve worked tirelessly to get to this point, but reaching that goal is just the beginning of your hard work, not the end.
Luck. Don’t listen to people who say, “What a lucky break” or, “How great that you landed your dream job” as though you just stumbled into it.
“Luck is where opportunity and preparedness meet.” We know how hard you worked to earn that break – you put in your time in school, then worked your way up the ladder to be where you are today. Celebrate that achievement.
Timing. Don’t apologize for your success. If you’ve put in the hard work at culinary school, then really hustled and got an amazing opportunity right out of the gate, take pride in that achievement. And, on the flip side, don’t be discouraged if your first big break doesn’t come that quickly.
You’ve got all the tools you need to be successful…patience is part of the package.
Complaining. Go ahead and complain about your “dream job” some days. It’s probably the toughest job you’ve had, and you can be thrilled to be working in your dream kitchen, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be days you wonder why you worked so hard to get there in the first place.
Your friends and family might not be all that sympathetic – after all it was your “dream,” right? Well, we know better, and so do you. It’s hard work, tough days are part of the deal, feel free to vent.
Happiness. For all the stress, less-than-encouraging feedback and hard days you’ll have when you fulfill your big culinary goal, you’ll discover that you’re happier than you’ve ever been. The weight of your schooling, doing the tough jobs to get experience, pounding the pavement and continuing your studies in your spare time finally pays off, and the weight is lifted off your shoulders.
Would you like to find out if a career in the culinary arts can be part of your “dream job,” or do you think our classes might help you achieve your culinary goals? Join us for an open house, tour our school, meet our faculty and get a taste of what it would be like to study in our kitchen. The journey to your dream job might start here!
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This article was originally published on February 8, 2016, and has since been updated.