Now, A Rat Race To The KitchenCharlie Green
Hundreds of Corporate America's downsizing casualties are taking refuge in the kitchen. Culinary schools report big influxes of layoff victims, all seeking new careers in a growing industry as chefs. Restaurants come and go, but the overall trend in cookery is up. According to Census Bureau projections, food-service employment will grow 31% by 2005.
At the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., 15% of the 2,025 students are career-changers, many of them refugees from the corporate life. That's up significantly from four years ago. Beginning chefs make $20,000 to $40,000 yearly to start--and can expect to earn $50,000 to $100,000 in 10 years, the schools say. Grads of New York Restaurant School's one-year program get an average of three job offers.
That has an appeal to students such as Susan Cronin, 30, who recently lost her $57,000 sales-rep job at IBM after eight years. "I want to take control of my own career," she says. She aims to start as a pastry chef, getting half her old salary. Still, it's employment. And eventually, says Cronin, she will own her own bakery.