Author Topic: Any Mustachian chefs? or part-time workers with side hustles? I need perspective  (Read 2268 times)

thereserve

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I've had a long term plan, that I'm currently researching towards, wanting more perspective from those who have gone before me.

I'm inspired by FIRE concepts to change my daily grind to doing something a little more fulfilling (now programmer, looking at chef). I've since started getting experience here and there by volunteering and I plan to work on an internet-based diploma when I make the shift.

I consider it appealing on a number of points

1. Part time option. Want to earn decent money and work hard, but less hours. Maybe nights, weekends, and be home for my kids during the daytime so we have someone always at home during school holidays etc. Yes there are part time programming options, but nothing nearby, which brings me to 2nd point.

2. Is a line of work that is always available no matter if you want to live rural or big city, there is some food for sale. I would love to have the option to go live&work at holiday resorts one day if my home situation agreed with it, my kids were grown up, etc.


I realise doing part time work doesnt get me any closer to Early Retirement, but I could learn to live on less and have more freedom to do what I want with free time. Example: I might spend it on my kids and home at first, but later engage in 1 or 2 side hustles just to do interesting shit and meet people. Hustles I consider: house sitting, babysitting, Etsy shop, writing, proofreading, ghostwriting, programming related. I've read a lot of encouraging things saying along the lines of... make the time, and you will do something interesting, and maybe end up richer monetarily - definitely richer in experience.



So I want to know if my ideas are poisoned by too much optimism or "Grass is greener" mentality. I hope to speak to as many people who have done a full time to part time shift, and/or people who have a career as a chef or similar, to see if some of my ideas make sense.

Bonus if you quit IT to do some kind of more physical work and can help by reflecting on that?


footnote: i have considered asking current employment about part time (between school hours) option. I did this with another previous employer and got the gig, which was nice, but it also has drawbacks, like resentful feelings from coworkers. Anyway it'd be nice to ditch this job.


If this idea dies young, I will make more money over 10 years, but I wonder what I lose out working 9-5 in terms of time for my kids and time for my ideas and side hustles to have some speculative work done on them. Overall, it seems still possible to take a high pressure, high paying chef or even IT gig after 10 years of taking it 'easy' on the dayjob side, if my priorities are more just to maximise income around that time.

If I do stay the course with my current income, I'm looking at saving for a house in the next 10 years. so tehre is some emotional baggage/lifelong dream style stuff that I have to contend with on the "trying nothing new" side of the fence.

Gimesalot

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I am married to a chef and my advice is to run away from this idea. 

The food service industry is a horrible place to work especially in the back of the house.  First, it's a very very physical job, that can take it's toll very quickly.  It is getting more and more difficult to find a part-time job, because there is a restaurant bubble, so most places will want you full time.  The pay, without any experience or education (internet diploma will not count), will be in the $10 to $12 an hour range, if you can find a job.  Most likely, you will need to start as a dishwasher, earning around $8 to $9 an hour.  Even part-time, the hours are not great.  You will probably start some time in the early afternoon and end in the late evening.  If you are the dishwasher, you might end up coming in around 5 pm or 6 pm and getting done around 2 am or 3 am.

Unless you can not imagine your life without cooking, I strongly suggest you look for a different path to part-time work.

letired

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I think you are definitely suffering from a 'grass is greener' issue on several fronts.

I actually quit a very physical career (scientific field work) to go into programming specifically because my old career was so physically demanding and I couldn't see it ending well for me if I did it long term. It was fine just out of school, but I could also see the toll it was taking on my body. There is a reason white collar/office jobs are seen as 'better' in some respects; the toll of physical work on your body is no joke.

I've also never heard anyone say food service was a great low-key part-time work option, so I'm a bit incredulous that you're even considering this.

Apeshifter

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I have essentially done the reverse. Going from cooking to working government IT.

Started as a dishwasher then did an apprenticeship, combined with college courses, to essentially fast track things for my cook trade papers. So in essentially a little over a year and a half of solid full time work I went from knowing how to boil water to working with a fine dining brigade doing 250+ covers a night. I'd consider the process the most "mustachian" thing I've ever done. Essentially throwing myself at learning and working to build a skill from rock bottom on up in a short period of time and having a great time doing it despite the hardships.

The restaurant/the people you are working for and with will make or break the quality of your work experience. The hours are expected to be long, you will be on your feet for all of them, and the pay is on the lower end of the scale (though I never had to worry about bringing a lunch!)

I left cooking after a few years for greater pay, lesser and more regular hours, better working conditions, plus a pension, in IT land. For me it was the correct decision. (Note: I had IT knowledge and skills + university education prior to my cooking stint) I like my current job as it affords me greater time to learn and improve myself, and give me greater $$ for FIRE.

Learning to cook has now given me a skill that I can use to eat frugally (and deliciously!), assist chef friends with catering events and cooking classes, use to network and impress friends and co-workers, and potentially market in some form or another, should I choose, as a side gig. (Plus some serious life skills and experiences)

limeandpepper

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I've worked at a few places as waitstaff and if there's anything I've learned from my observations, it's that I don't want to work in a commercial kitchen. It's hard work and long hours for not very much money. I love cooking at home, but you'd have to pay me quite a bit for me to consider cooking at a restaurant. Actually when I first started at my current job, my boss asked if I would be interested in working in the kitchen instead. I said no, and have not regretted it ever. Waiting on tables is physical, but I still think it's much easier than being a kitchenhand or cook or chef.

Don't be fooled by all the fancy chef shows on TV. There's a reason why most contestants on shows like Masterchef go on to become "celebrity chefs" and cookbook authors and whatnot instead of becoming actual chefs who work in a kitchen day in, day out. Oh, yeah, and I know someone who has worked as a chef at holiday resorts. I'm not sure why you find that appealing. Sure, a holiday resort sounds fun, but that's for the people who are on holiday, not so much the person who is doing shifts on a rotating roster, or the person who is preparing breakfasts from 2am to 12pm.

I used to have a full-time office job, and I do very much enjoy the free time I get now working part-time as a waitperson. My advice would be definitely try to go part-time if you can, but not as a chef unless it's something you're truly passionate about, because it's certainly not the cruisy job you seem to think it is.

Penny McSave

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Pizzabrewer

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Penny beat me to it.  I was going to say, read Bourdain's book.  It'll cure you of that idea, fast.

thereserve

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Fantastic replies thanks all

I loved the bourdain article, and will look into the book it relates to as well. Thanks.

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I used to have a full-time office job, and I do very much enjoy the free time I get now working part-time as a waitperson.

Thx lime - I can definitely separate the ideas of part time vs kitchen work out into 2 things, that helps my thinking. But it seems to me that even if I worked less hours, i still wouldn't have much free time. Can you comment on how the free time gets eaten up and "lost" after you moved to non-office hours? Do you keep the house differently, do different duties outside of work that you had planned to do?

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the toll of physical work on your body is no joke.

letired call me stupid but what is the toll? Knee problems? I don't know much about this but conventional wisdom says I sit down too much, if I didn't sit at all, it'd be the healthiest (see MMM about not sitting down for more than 30 minutes due to health concerns 'jokes')

Apeshifter, Gimesalot
- I think the thing about coworkers is for any workplace, but matters way more if the job itself is not too distracting from said people. IT has 2 sides, the work, and the people, and the unfortunate overlap between the 2.
- Good to get your 1st and 2nd hand point of view on the hours, pay, benefits, thanks


Another thought I had was that I would be best off cooking for a daycare or school, rehab centre or aged care centre. I wonder if the advice you give would swing a little more towards "its not so bad" if that were the case? Anyone know if there is a significant difference depending on the industry you are in? Another friend of mine is a corporate chef (cafeteria i think in an office somewhere), I will be asking his point of view on this as well.

limeandpepper

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Thx lime - I can definitely separate the ideas of part time vs kitchen work out into 2 things, that helps my thinking. But it seems to me that even if I worked less hours, i still wouldn't have much free time. Can you comment on how the free time gets eaten up and "lost" after you moved to non-office hours? Do you keep the house differently, do different duties outside of work that you had planned to do?

I'm not sure why you think you wouldn't have much free time even if you worked fewer hours? I actually have a good amount of free time as a waitperson who works casual hours, meaning I don't get a reliable number of hours or days from week to week. So some weeks I might have heaps of free time, and other weeks not as much. It balances out and overall I'm definitely working significantly fewer hours than a full-time job and thus have a decent amount of free time.

Having said that, there are certainly ways in which your free time can be eaten up. My experiences as a waitperson: 1) If you're doing both a lunch and dinner shift in one day with a break in between, the break is free time, but it's sort of restricted free time. I live close to work so I can walk home and relax in between those shifts, which is pretty great. But if you don't live close by, it's not as great. 2) The configuration of the shifts matter. 25 hours of work spread over 3 days gives you a different kind of lifestyle freedom to 25 hours of work spread over 5 days, but in any case, it's unlikely that you get the opportunity to choose your ideal hours and days in this industry. 3) I find my hospitality job more tiring than my previous office job, and need a bit more physical rest and downtime as a result.

All the above relates to my role as casual waitstaff, I cannot speak for what it would be like to work in the kitchen, all I know is that it's harder work than I'm willing to take on.

MayDay

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My SIL is a full time chef in a nice assisted living place.

She makes in the ballpark of 30k a year for full time with lots of experience.

She does the entire meal, start to finish including cooking 3-4 options, serving, and all clean up for a small group of reaidents- maybe 10-20? I can't remember.

She typically works 7 am to 3 pm to do breakfast and lunch. She only ever gets weekdays as days off unless she takes vacation days, and those can be hard to get approved.

She walks ~18,000 steps a shift. That's hard on your body as you age for some people.

She has to deal with very crabby elderly folks. She mostly enjoys the residents but sometimes they have awful ones.

The school lunch ladies here work like 9-1:30. Pay is crap but schedule is good. You'll never make more, and crap benefits as you aren't a school employee, you are hired by the food service company. Some of them drive the bus in morning and afternoon and cook at lunch.

I assume on it you are making at least twice per hour. Not sure why you'd want to do this if you have 10+ years until retirement. Now you're looking at 20+. Is being a cook really going to be fun for 20 years?

swick

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Hubs and I often dream about running a food truck as our retirement side gig. But it is way more fun to plan concepts than to do the work!

My dad was an executive Chef at 16. He kind of fell into it. My mom has owened her own catering company. Most of my early jobs were in kitchens. As a family, we'll do a function every year or two when someone we know ropes us into an event becuase we enjoy it from time to time. We fully catered our own wedding.

All that being said, I know for certain that doing it for a living would suck any of the joy out of it for me. I could have had a full ride culinary scholorship and I didn't take it. I knew I didn't want the life style.

We haven't given up the idea of a food truck, setting your own hours, being portable and seasonal. That we could handle. I have a friend who runs a truck just works summers (pulls in 200,000 in one festival weekend) and spends the rest of the year cycling around Europe. Might be an avenue to explore if you haven't already. It's also a great way to be your own boss and get some expereience under your belt :)

letired

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the toll of physical work on your body is no joke.

letired call me stupid but what is the toll? Knee problems? I don't know much about this but conventional wisdom says I sit down too much, if I didn't sit at all, it'd be the healthiest (see MMM about not sitting down for more than 30 minutes due to health concerns 'jokes')

If you have to ask, it's obvious you've never done a job with any physical component. :P

In all seriousness: you are making a logical error when you assume that if sitting too much == bad, then never sitting == good. Humans are bad at both logic and moderation, but like all things, you want moderation in this as well. Standing too long and standing for long periods on hard surfaces often leads to joint pain, starting in your feet and legs. There is a reason restaurant supply places sell those padded mats. Workers who are on their feet for years can also develop assorted back pain. Other professions where this is sometimes an issue include servers, nurses, and construction workers. This may be mitigated by the part time nature of the work, or by maintaining a workout scheme where you strengthen the muscle groups that support your back and joints (didn't really work for me, but I wasn't exactly what you'd call focused).

If you have your heart set on this career path, you do you. I would never in a million years. I think you would make far more money with far less time and work by developing a freelance business in programming. Of course, I'm biased, since that is my career plan. So maybe you SHOULD go into cooking. Less competition for me!