February 8, 2016
Posted in: Culinary Arts

It may already be a few weeks into 2016, but it’s never too late to start making plans and changing your life. If you’ve recently completed culinary academy, this is the perfect time to figure out what you want to do as a chef. What kind of cuisine do you want to cook? How high up in the kitchen hierarchy will you ascend? What matters most to you as you serve your guests and community? To achieve the kind of career you’ve always dreamt of, you need to set goals along the way, establishing markers on your journey to the top the culinary industry. Here is how you can do just that:

Prosperous chefs know how to set goals and stick to them.Prosperous chefs know how to set goals and stick to them.

Consider your values
Who you are informs your goals and aspirations. That’s why the Bergen County Career Advancement Training School suggested that the first step of goal-setting is to understand your personal values and beliefs. For instance, ask yourself where you want to live; this can help you choose the kind of job market to enter or a cuisine to focus on. It’s just as important to ponder your personal schedule. Chefs work notoriously long hours, and if you can’t handle that schedule, you’ll require a different approach. Even considerations like specific job responsibilities and level of community involvement can shape your career choices.

Always be specific
It’s not enough to simply set a goal of “I want to work in a five-star restaurant.” What specific kind of eatery do you want to work in? In what city or town is this job located? By what specific point in time should you land the gig? According to cooking expert and marketing guru Chef Katrina, all of these factors and more are important in setting goals. They help you ensure your desired job is realistic, and you can take the necessary steps to get there. Plus, these other questions help create sub-goals, and these are just as important to have. Sub-goals are a way to make huge, lofty aspirations seem more attainable, providing tiny victories as you accomplish each one, which can serve as a great source of continuous motivation.

“Chefs must gain experience outside of cooking.”

Gain plenty of experience
If your aim is to become an executive chef at your favorite restaurant, it helps to be great at cooking. In addition. Hcareers said that would-be head chefs should also take steps to better business or general management. That same idea should apply regardless of your culinary ambitions: you need to develop experience outside the kitchen. For instance, it may help to take a business class on the side to see if you have the aptitude to run a restaurant someday. You could also try cooking food you’re not familiar with. More than just enriching your life, these experiences will help you evaluate your list of goals and decide if it’s where you want to be headed. Plus, more experience prepares you for the work ahead.

Constantly push yourself
Dr. Edward Locke is a renowned American psychologist. In 1968, he published a paper called “Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives” and effectively established the concept of goal theory. Not only does that theory emphasize specificity, but also the notion that the work itself provides more motivation than the end goal. That’s why you should always set lofty goals for yourself. Don’t just say you want to to learn one new dish a week, but make it some complicated meal you have limited experience preparing. Or, find new ways to cut time off your mincing or chopping. By giving yourself clear goals, and making them the kind that will test the extent of your capability, Locke’s theory says you are more likely to succeed and accomplish your dreams.

Things Nobody Tells You About Achieving Your Dream
On the other side of things, there are a number of unforeseen challenges that arise when working to achieve your goals. Things such as:

Increased Stress
When you’re finally hired on at your dream job, the wonderful effect of increasing pressure ensues. There seems to be an added stress that the little things could somehow end our dream professions. Most of the time, the worry ends up being silly, but the stress is still there, and it wouldn’t have been had you not already achieved your goals.

Can I Complain About My Dream Job?
People have trouble wrapping their head around the fact that you can still be miserable or unhappy doing something you love due to unforeseen circumstances. In the minds of your friends and family, your dream job is exactly that—something that you dreamt up, and so is perfect in every imaginable way. So sometimes you feel you’re not allowed to complain.

How Lucky…
Your dream job isn’t in an easy field to break into–if it was, you’d be doing that job right now. If you happen to hold a job in your desired industry, you no doubt had to work your backside off to get there. But once you land what you consider to be your dream job, expect to hear about how lucky you were. “You caught such a break.” “I can’t believe you fell into that field.” And so on.

While there is a certain amount of good fortune that goes into finding any job, those who are in their dream job have earned it in one way or another. None of these qualifications will deter friends and family from saying it was all luck, as though anyone can do your job.

You Can’t Please Everyone
If you achieve your goal and finally get hired on to do your dream job, someone in your life will be secretly rooting for you to fail. This isn’t to say they’re going to be Snidely Whiplash, curling their mustache and cackling as they sabotage you.

Never be ashamed of your accomplishments. If you graduate from culinary school and immediately catapult into being a chef at Bittersweet, good on you. Be proud. You deserve it, especially in the culinary industry. They don’t just hand out jobs to the undeserved.

While these may sound negative, don’t let it deter you from striving to achieve your goals.

Amazing Things That Happen After You Achieve Your Dream

It’s time to get to the good stuff—what’s it like once you get to the top of the mountain? If you’re considering going into culinary school, chances are you have a “dream job.” Maybe it’s baking cupcakes, or grilling steaks, or competing against Morimoto on Iron Chef America. But the question remains: What happens after you achieve that goal?

The Weeks Seem Way Longer (In A Good Way)
In American Ham, Nick Offerman talks about how ridiculous it is to hate 5/7 of your life. If you do what you love, then you don’t run into the problem of living for your days off. So, when you do finally start a job that you love, it has the added weird bonus of making your week seem much longer.

Your Relationships Improve
Your relationships will get better after you start loving your work. When you’re happy, others are too. A positive attitude is a lot easier to have when you love your work, and most people prefer to be around a positive person.

Your Energy Goes Through the Roof
Hand-in-hand with the stress that will no doubt come with your dream job, you will find that getting through your workday is not the slog it used to be. You’ll be amazed at how much pep is in your step just because you enjoy what you’re doing.

Once you find that dream job, you’ll find the creative part of you wake up, and that alone will energize you in ways you only vaguely remember from childhood. This will help in your career, but it will carry over into your personal life as well. You’ll find it’s easier to think up Christmas present ideas. Crafting plans will wake you from your pre/post-work power nap. When someone comes to you with a soup and asks “What does this need?” the answer will spring to mind. When you do what you’re passionate about, inspiration isn’t far behind.

The Happiness…My Goodness, the Happiness!
Let’s say you’re on a hike, and you’ve been carrying a 50 lb. backpack. And you’ve been on this hike for so long that the pack doesn’t bother you anymore. You’ve gotten used to feeling its weight on your shoulders. But then, your buddy offers to carry the pack for you, and you get to do the hike with no burden whatsoever. That’s what this feels like to finally achieve your dream.

Real happiness comes from doing what you love. When you’re tired and your feet ache and your back is sore, you find yourself still eager to get up and do it again. Keep after it—you owe it to yourself to achieve your dream.

Get Started on Your Culinary Dreams! Attend an Open House

Join us for a personal look into what it’s like to be an Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts student. Feel the heat in the kitchen as one of our chef instructors walk you through how to make an array of delicious dishes. You’ll have the ability to tour the kitchens, talk to instructors and admissions and get a taste for what it’s like to be a student at our school!

Request information to learn more about our Open Houses and Live Demonstrations today!