I get lots of emails. Lots and lots of emails which sit, read but typically unanswered because answering emails is apparently impossible for me.
So I thought I would take a moment to answer some of the common emails I receive.
- Q: Dear Lisa, I have been thinking of opening a restaurant.
A: Stop right there. No. You do not want to open a restaurant. You might think you do, but you don't. You'll thank me later.
- Q: Dear Lisa, I have been thinking of leaving my career as a [insert your career] and going to culinary school.
A: See answer to number one, but substitute "go to culinary school" for "open a restaurant."
- Q: Dear Lisa, I know you say no one really wants to open a restaurant, but I'm different. I really think I could do it, what do you think?
A: Repeat answer from question number 1.
- But, but, but...
Look, if you aren't going to listen, that's fine. But stop asking.
- Q: Dear Lisa, YOU went to work in a kitchen! Why is it okay for you and not me?
A: I am a masochist. I also no longer make plans for the future. I have no plans to become a chef; I just want to learn as much as possible, for some reason. Since I have no plans for my future, I am only working in a restaurant kitchen to satisfy my curiosity and endless need to learn. I don't have a retirement plan, but if I did, I wouldn't sink it into a restaurant.
I have to admit, I am a little perplexed by peoples' desire to become chefs. I'm going to go ahead and blame the popularity of Food Shows who make it seem like the most amazing life ever.
I simply cannot understand why so many people think they want to go to extremely expensive culinary schools to graduate with a degree which hasn't really taught you HOW to work in a restaurant kitchen, where the average time to get to the top of your game takes 20 years and the median salary is around $38K a year to work (at least) 12 hours a day on your feet six days a week. Chances are you will NOT become a celebrity chef. Chances are you won't even become a sous chef.
Which is why, if you are over 23 years of age, you should know it's a bad idea. The rest of you, go for it.
and THANK YOU to Home Chef, for linking this column from the Huffington Post from a few months back; I was trying to remember where I had read this story while I was writing this post, and couldn't find it!
Here is another great take on this question, in far greater detail, which Bourdain wrote for Ruhlman's blog.