Culinary School By the Numbers

by John Stephano

Going back to culinary school is hard in so many ways. But there are lots of reasons to stick with it.

1 — Intensely intimidating chef
3 — Brutally long weeks for every new class
5 — As in a.m., two clanging alarm clocks plus an annoying cell phone alarm
6 — Hours standing in the classroom every day
6 to 8 — Hours after class every day completing research and study in the library
10 — Years since I was last in a classroom
20 — Years older I am than the average age of my fellow students

Are these the reasons that I left the investment business? Will these statements end like the television commercial with the word “priceless,” or rather with, “What did I get myself into?”

Like anyone starting a new career, I have found there are great challenges that make us question our decision to dive into a new reality. I have struggled deep within my gut every time one of those numbers enters my thinking space.

“This is crazy” or “What are you doing John?” — these are the questions I often find myself worrying over.

But then I remember the advice a special person once gave to me. “Think back to when you first thought of this passion, this new career.” For me it was when I was a little boy that I dreamed of the culinary world. “Sit with that boy and just be there for a while,” my friend said. I know it sounds hokey and maybe it is, but for me it clears my head just enough so I can get back to the numbers I love and the numbers that I am newly learning all the time now.

8 — Types of premium chocolate that I got to eat and talk about in class the other day 
15 — Professional relationships I’ve already developed
20 — Different species of fish that I’ve touched, fabricated and cooked 
45 — Different professional kitchens that I get to play and experiment in
8,000 to 10,000 — Taste buds that I learned we each have and can’t wait to use

And then there’s this one:
20 — Average age of my fellow students who inspire me every day to reach deeper and make this dream come true.

by John Stephano | Monday, June 1, 2009 | Career Change, Culinary School at 40, Dream Careers

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