Now, A Rat Race To The Kitchen

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.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.