The Part of Culinary School Nobody Tells You About

Laurie Woolever, in The Billfold, on how she ended up becoming Anthony Bourdain’s assistant:

With my dad’s help, I took out a loan and did a 6-month professional course at the French Culinary Institute, while continuing to work part-time for the family for a few months. I soon learned that I was poorly equipped to be a restaurant cook. I’m rather lazy, I loathe noise, heat, and teamwork, bore easily, and crack under pressure. Months before starting school, I’d read that chefs could make up to $85,000 a year, but it became clear that I’d be lucky to make $25,000, working miserable 60-hour weeks. Having taken on a $24,000 debt (plus interest) on this professional training I suddenly didn’t want, while getting cash advances on my credit card to pay my rent, was stressful. I started breaking out in what I thought were hives, but later turned out to be bedbug bites.

Maybe I’d become a food writer.

Read the story