Saturday, March 28, 2009

Once upon a time...


First, I would like to clear some misunderstandings. On the surface, this blog may appear like a simple collection of entertaining short stories about the adventures of a culinary student. And if that's what you get out of it, then that's fine--I have entertained you, which is one of the goals of my blog. Unfortunately, if that's the only thing you get out of it, then I have ultimately failed.

Though cursing may be fun to do and mocking others an ego-booster and though at times I will use this blog as a medium for frustration peppered with obscenities, I want to be clear: I take my decision to come to the CIA quite seriously.

Although easy to do, I do not want to write a blog that is just about scathing criticisms of the CIA school system and witty insults of my peers. Let me tell you a story about what this is all about.

"Once upon a time a boy thought a six figure salary and job security was the path to happiness. But after chasing money and safety for a couple years, he realized he was miserable. So he decided that pursuing dreams was more important. Not knowing how the story will end, he is now at the Culinary Institute of America with nothing but a knife kit and a cook's uniform. Will he have what it takes to be a great chef? Or will he be burned by the fire?"

If you took the time to look around, you may have noticed that this is an exact copy of the little paragraph in the neat little picture at the top of this blog. And that is exactly why I put it at the top of my blog.

This is the unfolding real-time story about a young man who has taken one of the most, if not the riskiest gambit in his short life. He has no idea what the rewards are, how he will succeed, or how it will end, but the one thing he does know is this: he does not regret.

So, if you are:

1) having a quarter life crisis,
2) considering a career change from a secure, high-paying but otherwise joyless profession,
3) unsatisfied with the way things turned out with the choices you made in life,
4) need inspiration or encouragement to make "that" move to chase your dream,
5) and/or simply want to live vicariously through me,

then, I am talking to YOU. A word of caution: Though most everyone has a dream that is different from their career or living, the decision to pursue that dream instead is NOT for everyone. For some reason, many successful career changers, when talking about their decision to choose something so drastically different and risky, always say something like this:

"Even though I was making a ton of money as a (insert respectable profession here) , I was unhappy. Ever since I was a kid, I've always wanted to be a (insert ridiculously, almost laughable job here). There was no choice--I just knew I'd had to go for it!" This is usually where an immediate relative or close friend gives her support: "Without a doubt, I always knew he/she would be successful."

For them, it was easy as pie.

Well let me tell you the other side of the story.

For me, this was by far the hardest decision I've had to make. I was well on the path to getting a job that had high security and would pay at least a $250,000 starting salary. And believe me, I had been working my ass off my entire life to get that job and was just two years away from sealing the deal. No rational person would easily give up years of hard work and a job like that just so he can pursue a dream of being a chef. Would you?

My decision took over 2 years to make: endless wandering late at night agonizing over whether to stay or leave, heated and emotional arguments with my parents who did not understand me, hundreds of pages of reflective writing, countless sleepless hours in bed of fruitless thinking, months of clinical depression, dozens of pills, one deep contemplation of ending it all, and the constant feeling of being lost with no hope of finding my way through it all. It was a dark, dark time.

I didn't have a fairy godmother who gave me a pumpkin carriage and glass slippers and tell me to go get the job of my dreams. Hell no. I had to crawl and claw my way out of a dark tunnel that I made for myself without a flashlight. Long story short, after two, long years, I had gathered enough information, support, and above all, the courage to make that leap of faith that had me convinced that what I was doing was something I would not regret.

So if you're like me and you are considering on gambling it all for a shot at a cherished dream, then take it slow, chew the facts, learn more about yourself, and make sure you know what you know what you are getting yourself into. The thought of it may terrify you, but I promise you, once you make it far enough down the tunnel you will eventually see a small speck of light at the end. And when you do, latch on to it and don't look back.


  1. found you!
    and FIGHTING!

    -vai aka, rawkabella

  2. Chef-Sous,

    Really inspiring post-made me think about my own life and what risks I'm willing to take.

  3. I'm thinking about making a career change or about perhaps adding to my career goals by having a side business related to food. This is NOT an easy decision.