What's Next When the Doors Close?
The restaurant industry is known to be a volatile field. Restaurants close all the time, but it’s a different story when it’s happening to you. I recently lost my job at the restaurant I have worked at for just under 4 years. I came in as a dishwasher, but now I’m leaving as the chef. I've worked very hard and the restaurant was a huge part of my life. I gave up going to parties and hanging out with friends so that I could work and earn money, but now it’s all come to an end. There are other jobs, but this one was special. It was my origin story, the place where I got started. It’s somewhat sad to see the restaurant go. I'll have many memories of the place; good and bad. On the positive side, with that job finished and with nothing already lined up, there’s infinite freedom to do whatever I want. When one door closes, many more open. It’s time to consider the options.
Get a Better Job at a More Established Facility
The restaurant industry has it’s ups and downs, but there’s always someone hiring. Take the opportunity to update your resume with all of your new experience from your past job. Go to nice restaurants, convention centers and catering companies. Chances are, you get to take the next step in your career, working a better job in a nicer and more recognized place.
Travel and Work Abroad
The cooking trade is truly international. There are cooks all over the world and spending time cooking in Europe, especially France, is almost a rite of passage. Take your new found freedom and go somewhere. Doing this, you'll broaden your own skillset and knowledge about food, while learning about another culture. You might ignore this option because of financial reasons but, the experience will be priceless and last a lifetime. It’s only good.
Start Something on Your Own
Without being tied down to a full time job, you have the freedom to do what you want. Make the time count. Work on something you've always wanted to. Start your own business. The choices here are infinite. Take some culinary skills you already have and put them to use. You could sell baked goods, catered dinners, breads, confections, soups, salad dressings - anything you put your mind to. You could even try teaching or taking your abilities to the internet. While it’s more difficult because of shipping and spoilage concerns, it is possible to sell food online.
Take the Time to Improve Your Skills
There’s so much to learn in the culinary field, there’s no way you know it all. So, take the time to learn something new. If you've worked as a cuisinier all your career, take some time to learn about pastry and baking. You could even focus on a single ingredient or product and go way in depth with all of the history and the science behind it. Find some good culinary textbooks and just start reading and taking notes. You could also try to find local or online short courses.
Get the Extra Credentials
When you're holding down a job, there’s not always a lot of extra time to get the certifications you should have. Things like a food handling certificate, WHMIS training and first aid are almost mandatory. Even if they aren’t necessary to getting a job, it’s good to have them. It shows that you're dedicated to the job and that you take things seriously. You could also look into getting certificates in specialised fields like like the first level or two of the WSET sommelier course. An increased knowledge of wine will only be helpful to you.
Take Some Time to Relax
If you're like most restaurant workers, then it has probably been a long time since you've had some time off. So, take some time to relax and spend some time on a hobby. You've worked hard for it and you deserve it. Just don't get too comfortable. You will need to start working again.
When one door closes many more open. When you're put out of work, take some time ( you do have it after all) to consider your options and decide what you want to do. No one choice will be right for every person. Some would love to travel abroad, while others would rather stay home and start working on an online business. Contact any friends and industry connections you may have. Quite often, they'll know of an opening, and they can point you in the right direction, or even get you a job outright. Take stock of your options and consider what’s best for you. Look at what helps you achieve your long term goals and takes you to where you want to be.