In the coming years, chefs and head cooks can expect to face strong competition for jobs that pay high wages. The government reports that workers with a blend of on-the-job experience, education and creativity should have the best employment prospects. The most successful chefs in Los Angeles, like Daniel Keenan, started carving out their career paths during their early years of development.

(Photo Courtesy of Daniel Keenan)

(Photo Courtesy of Daniel Keenan)

“I knew at a young age that I wanted to become a chef, and started working in kitchens at aged fourteen,” said Keenan, executive chef and food service director at California State University, Los Angeles. “I also attended the French Culinary Institute in New York City and spent time working in Europe.”

In what way is formal training beneficial?

“Formal training is a great way to learn basic methodology. It’s a quick introduction to the culinary arts.”

How are aspiring chefs benefiting from your education?

“In the over 30 years that I have worked in this industry, I maintain one consistent message to all the cooks, and that is, ‘simplicity is beauty.’ Having said that, I challenge cooks daily to free themselves of rules and exercise artistic freedom while staying within their limits.”

How will a chef’s role change by 2025?

“In L.A., the effects of drought and climate change will mandate sustainability and a limitation of food waste. I hope to see chefs leading a large-scale front on salvaging food, as opposed to squandering it.”

What is the best way to prepare for a lasting career in this field?

“I advise determined chefs to soak up as much information as they can about all types of cultural cuisines and techniques. They should turn themselves into walking culinary experts so their skills will not only secure employment, but take them anywhere they want to go.”

What is your message to endeavoring chefs?

“A chef won’t last in this industry if he or she is not passionate about the culinary arts. They must make sure they want to go down this road, because it’s windy and bumpy. However, if they persevere, it will lead to an extremely satisfying career.”

Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist. Some news articles she has authored are archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

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