With fewer restaurants hiring because of the recession, where should a cook look for a position? If you still want to have "chef" on your resume, but the restaurant doors seem temporarily closed, check out these fields:
For a cook who loves to experiment and use lots of exotic ingredients and spices, making food at a hospital or retirement facility may seem like your worst nightmare. There are strict regulations in place when it comes to cooking for the sick or elderly due to compromised immune systems, so forget that properly salted, rare steak. Still, cooking in the health industry doesn't necessarily mean creating slop. Especially when it comes to high end retirement communities and nationally respect health facilities, there's a lot of emphasis place on a cook's ability to prepare delicious dishes within the dietary guidelines. Think of it as a Top Chef challenge, everyday!
Whether preparing pizzas for private schoolers or gourmet salads for the faculty dining hall of a university, there are plenty of cooking jobs in the educational field that don't involve donning a hair net and dishing out fish sticks. It's worth looking into private schools at all levels, from kindergarten to college, as the quality of food is one method many institutions use to attract prospective students. If you check out the menu the Obama daughters are served at Sidwell Friends, you'll realize the school cafeteria isn't about chicken patty day anymore.
With less people dining out, more focus has been turned to store bought meals at places like Whole Foods where the quality is still high, but the absence of tax, tip and beverage cost result in a cheaper meal. You might not be working on a restaurant kitchen's line, but the experience of cooking for large numbers is still valid.
Yes, those people who still have jobs at investment banks and law firms still need to eat. Obviously budgets are being cut in all areas, but the cafeterias of large corporation are expected to continue dishing out delicious grub for the remaining employees. Google cafeteria, anyone?
So there may not be as many private chef jobs as there used to be, but I've seen a number of NYC families advertise for someone who can be a jack of all trades – cook, grocery shopper, nanny, even light cleaning. The hours tend to better than what you could expect from a restaurant, and if you don't mind dealing with the tots in addition to tater tots, the pay is usually better, too.