Working as a chef is not a job, it is a passion!
In France, you need to decide of going to a trade school right out of high school, as you turn 16 years old, and having a father as a chef, cooking every weekend with him as a kid, it made sense that this was the job I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
After a stage of 2 months at the hotel in Paris where my father was holding the Executive Chef position, it was even clearer, that this was going to be my path.
You can only imagine the attention I received during this time in the kitchen, as the other chefs made sure I saw as many things as I could in a day. They also made sure that I would get the strict regimen to understand that cooking in a real kitchen was not cooking at home with my dad.
At the end of those two summer month, I enrolled in the Master Culinary program at one of the top chef school in Paris.
The beginning of my career started in Paris, in some of the most renowned star Michelin restaurants and was probably the most difficult time I had as a Chef. The hours were long, the Chefs were yelling, the kitchen was so hot and busy all the time, the service time was always stressful, and having to do some plates over and over, until the Chef agreed it was perfect was very demanding.
Working in those type of establishment sure taught me a lot about fine cuisine, but I would not want to go back at any cost.
Following my first steps in my culinary journey in Paris, I decided to go to California, learn English and hope to be able to share all the knowledge I gained.
As you would think that was the best time of my life, it lead to many different opportunities for work, from owning my own restaurant, to working with some amazing talented chefs, and ending up teaching a culinary program in Laguna Beach. Work was not always easy, but the love of cooking was there at all times.
It is during my time as a Chef instructor, that I realized that this was the best time I have ever had in this business. Spending everyday with my students, sharing my passion and all my knowledge with them was the most rewarding time I had ever had.
Being a Chef instructor requires a lot of patience, perseverance and understanding of others. It also removed the stress level that restaurant have and the very long hours required in the business.
Being already the best experience in my life, it got even better when the school decided to organize international Culinary adventure, and guess who was the lead instructor?
During several years, we would take group of guests to France, Italy and Spain to spend time with us, learn the country recipes and travel the regions we would settle in. The guests would be joining me and my team to walk through the open market that Europe offers and pick the fresh ingredients that would later be served for our meals. The culinary trips would also include wine tasting, fun activities and special dinners at local restaurants.
Spending more than a month in Europe each year, and returning to teaching the chef program for the remainder of the year, was a perfect balance for me, and I sure miss that today …
Working long hours, weekend and holidays most of the time has never been the best schedule for anyone, but the reward you get when you cook, create and share your wonderful dishes is something that only few can enjoy!
Having gone through good and bad experiences in my career, still has not made me want to do anything else than being a chef.
I hope my story will help people understand that you need to follow your passion and that the journey will not always be easy, and that passion is not something you can buy. Money has nothing to do with it, but it sure make your life a fun trip to be on!
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A personal chef