roanoke.com - Business Stories -Let's get cooking

Well SHEESH, now I'm getting competition?

This is great though, I can't wait to see the end product. I wonder how many students would stay in Roanoke after classes end?

Maybe if the city offer'd assistance to alumni of the school in starting a business, Roanoke could be flooded with good restaurants, and maybe.. possibly.. The Olive Garden could finally lose its Platinum spot as Roanoke's Premiere Italian food.

I feel dirty just saying that.

Although this part: "Head chefs in the Roanoke Valley earn an annual salary that is a little above the mean salary for all occupations in the Roanoke Metropolitan Statistical Area. The mean annual salary for all occupations in the Roanoke Valley in 2004 was $33,330. According to 2004 statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, chefs and head cooks made a mean salary of $43,590 annually in the Roanoke Valley. The mean hourly wage for those jobs was $20.96.

Fast food cooks earned a mean salary of $14,870, and supervisors and food preparation managers earned $26,310 a year, according to the statistics."

Well thats a damn lie. Everyone knows I make enough to keep myself warm in the Forgotten-HQ. I get to eat, occasionally.

But the roaches won't do the laundry no-more. The rats refuse to fix the hole in the floor.

But no, its great being a cook/chef. I personally, for those of you who don't know, am a certified chef. Certified in many ways I can assure you. And I get to play with shiny pointy things. Thats a big plus.

OH, and the fire - did I mention the fire???

It's a hell of a career, as long as your not sane. I look forward to strapping on my uniform every day. There's instant gratification, when you take that moment to peek out of the kitchen and see everyone eating.

The French are finicky, the English regimental, Japanese are obsessed with ingredient and nuance, and Italians are only content when everyone is eating. And eating...

The American chefs have taken the best part of each, and combined them into the worlds greatest job. And as times change, and new cooks and chefs come on the scene - they are coming with a keen appreciation for the amount of work and dedication it takes to be the best. For the first time in history, cooks and chefs are now being offered retirement plans, healthcare plans, and actual tangible benefits. Previously you had to work for a hotel or a corporate kitchen to be offered anything beyond your salary.

Check out Foodservice.com for the best information, hands down on the kitchen. The people on the messageboard are more than willing to answer questions on becoming, being, and breaking away from Chef.

When the first class graduates from Roanoke's own culinary school - they will be entering a kitchen far different than their ancestors did. The job has not changed, its still meat-heat-eat.

But its a far cry from the "Hell's Kitchen" you see on TV. It's nothing like that in your average kitchen, although it used to be. Some of the older guys can tell you stories of full on knife fights, pots and pans being launched across the kitchen, intentional wounding.

But it's nothing like the Food Network either. The top 3 problems in any kitchen are as follows: 1) waitstaff, 2)supplier (Sysco), 3)any cook other than yourself.

And the #1 person you always take care of: The dishwasher. I've seen a dishwasher walk out in the middle of a shift because they were treated badly, and the restaurant lost 2 days worth of business. They do alot more than most think, and with no clean plates - what would you serve on?

I've been rolling around the idea of doing a Chef'sBlog, a hardcore look at the kitchen as an industry. Something to track the comings and goings in Roanoke, franchise news (to keep track of the enemy with), possibly market reports - if any of you other chefs out there would find it useful.

Again, something I've been toying with, but the key is making it accessable to all who read it - not just the pros. Chef's can be like hairstylists. They can have a following, bring a good deal of clients when they move to a new spot.

And should you ever be so lucky to attain the level of Executive Chef, you'll realize how much you miss working the line. The 3-5 hours of intensity, sending out plate after plate of perfection, and the casual banter with the rest of the staff as you sit in your office doing paperwork. Thats when you have to pass the torch to someone else, hire a new guy for the line. Watch as he goes through everything you did, offer him counseling before he kills your waitstaff on the night they drop a tray. And wait for him to move on, just like you did, to find something new.

Well, I'll save the rest of this for the ChefBlog when I decide to run it.

I, for one, welcome my new competition and wish them jobs in places "large enough for service, but small enough for craft." (Tom Collichio) Oh, and ample parking as well..

Ok, so I lied. Here it is: The new blog I was talking about. LeChaim!

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