By: Ryan Hodros, Culinary Arts Student
Our class was on summer break this past week, and since we didn’t have any travel plans, I wound up working longer hours than I would have worked had I been in school. This isn’t to say that I haven’t been enjoying my vacation. Only that when I have time on my hands, I have a tendency to jump all over my hobbies, and my hobbies just happen to be what I’m trying to turn into a career.
So what all have I been up to that I feel compelled to brag about it? Writing mostly. I added somewhere around 10,000 words to my book so far this week, as well as 3,000 words worth to an article on, 6 best brews for a summer BBQ. Along with other writing that you guys can actually read if you have time. I also did some baking, working out the kinks in a chocolate cupcake recipe that I hope to use towards the end of the month. And I cooked just about every day this week, what with Tressa working. In addition to that, I did some brewing, putting five gallons of brown ale in the fermenter that will hopefully be ready in time for my birthday in August!
So what’s the deal with this article? Am I so out of ideas that I just want to brag about how busy I am? Am I one of those people who refuses to relax? The kind that has to be busy all the time to avoid thinking about X, Y, or Z issue. No, I’m mentioning all this to illustrate a different point entirely: If you love what you do, you’re always kind of on vacation.
Everyone has held a job they hate in one form or another. Maybe you really hate Math class, and sat through several years’ worth in high school. Maybe you had a job as a janitor to pay the bills while you were in school. Maybe you chose a career path for the money and slog through each day as best you can, working your tail off and hating every second of it? I understand all that, having done most of it myself, and the point of this article is to tell you it doesn’t have to be forever.
My wife is a graduate of Auguste Escoffier, both of the culinary and the pastry arts program, and to let you in on a little secret, she prefers the baking side of things. She loves cooking savory food at home, she just dislikes the high-intensity tempo of working the line. But she’s been working the line for the past several months because we have bills to pay, all the while keeping an eye out for something she can enjoy. And it’s finally happened! She’s soon going to be working as an assistant to a pastry chef, thus making her first step towards being a pastry chef, which has been her dream for nearly half a decade now. “I’m going to be baking cookies,” she told me when she got home from her interview. “Someone is going to PAY ME to bake cookies!”
The idea of baking sweets for a living is appealing to her because she does that as her hobby. She does it in her spare time and gives the product away because she enjoys the process. And the prospect of getting paid money to do it every day was incredibly exciting!
My point here is that, though neither of us are what you’d consider “old-timers,” Tressa and I have been around long enough and worked enough jobs to have figured out that this is the way to find a career. If you enjoy something enough that you’d do it for free in your spare time while doing something you don’t care much for as a living, try and figure out a way to make that the way you pay the bills.
For many of you (if you’re reading a blog from a culinary arts school’s website), that’s kitchen work. Maybe you enjoy grilling? Maybe you’re the go-to cook for your 50 person family’s special occasions? Maybe you’re the one who brings cupcakes to the office every Monday to cheer people up? Whatever the reason, if you enjoy cooking, Auguste Escoffier can give you the tools you need to succeed. Not only will you get the know-how to make great food, you’ll also develop good kitchen sense, understand the nuts and bolts of running a business, and the discipline to put out excellent work every time.
So if I want to be a writer, what am I doing at culinary school? Well, more specifically, I want to be a writer in the food and beverage industry, and I don’t feel qualified writing about stuff I’d have no idea how to make myself. But more specifically, I love cooking and baking and I wanted to learn more. Will I turn into the next Wolfgang Puck? Probably not. But if I can’t make it as a writer and I wind up doing something I love for my career anyway, I’d be okay with that.