How To Be A Chef

Most writers aren’t poets and most cooks aren’t chefs.  Similar to the proliferation of MFA programs that teach people how to write or refine their writing, culinary schools got way popular in the last couple of decades.  The idea is to provide skills that lead to publishing or employment.

What has emerged are published writers and employed cooks, but rare examples of memorable work or meals.  It makes sense when you think about it: How many books or articles leave any impression?  How many meals are worth paying for and are satisfying?

Never mind the debt that writers take on to earn an MFA.  Or the charade that the MFA makes them a bona fide writer.  Well, do mind: It’s not just the $120,000 for the three years of tuition, it’s the $54,000 for rent, $72,000 for living expenses, and loss of income on the three years.

Culinary schools offer comparable debt.

Your best bet as a chef who wants to be successful is to develop a simple business model that will create a flow of income that can be used for more advanced projects.  (Good luck with the advancement.)

Take burgers.  Shake Shack just went public to the tune of $1.6 billion.  That’s pretty good for ground beef.  Start there.  You can get a food cost of about 30 cents per burger.  You can pay six workers $10 each per hour.  Sell 500 burgers an hour times ten hours at $6 each.  You have $2100 a day in labor/food costs and $30,000 from the burgers.  Throw in the fries that cost next to nothing and you’re up another $15,000.  Total net profit (minus rent and utilities): $42,900 per diem.

No wonder we see more and more burger joints opening across the country.

It’s poetry.


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