Is a Culinary Career Right for Your Unemployed Self?


Yesterday, on NPR’s Leonard Lopate Show, chef, bear-icon, and Top Chef head judge Tom Colicchio and French Culinary Institute founder Dorothy Hamilton talked about how employment opportunities are increasing in the culinary world despite the super fabulous economy. It’s an interesting chat that you can listen to here, but if you’re lazy and just want the amusing bits, we outline them for you after the jump.

-Despite the monstrous unemployment rate, employment opportunities in the culinary world are actually increasing with an expected 2 million opps expected be created in the next 10 years.

-Of those, there’s an estimated 10,000 new chef positions that are expected to be created over the next decade.

-50% of all mature women have worked in a restaurant or hospitality at some point.

-The restaurant and hospitality industry is now one of the largest employers in the U.S., employing 13.1 million people.

-Tom thinks you’re going to start to see a lot of restaurants in the city close this January; you’ll also see some lower-priced restaurants open.

-Applications and inquiries for the French Culinary Institute have doubled in the last 6 to 8 weeks.

-There are 120 employees at Craft, from dishwashers on up.

-First cooking as a kid, Tom had a hard time having the attention span to follow a recipe, so he focused on technique. He can still seem a bit ADD.

-The French are great at codifying.

-Tom “plays guitar a little bit.” Yeah, we knew this, but it’s sort of adorable and amusing to hear him say it.

-Tom says the downfall of Top Chef contestants is often that they lack good technique. “They have a lot of great ideas but they don’t have the technique to pull it off.”

-At Raquel, Thomas Keller created a unique atmosphere where all that was discussed was food. Colicchio really dug working there because of this.

-The average executive chef in New York City makes $80k a year.

-Some people are called to the hospitality industry.

-Tom worked at Burger King.

-According to Cornell University professors, the failure rate for restaurants is no greater than the failure rate of any other small businesses.

-Tom once called his first TV appearance, on Regis and Kathie Lee, the worst experience of his life.