Change of Career Inspirations

(Continuation from the previous post)

Below are some people I have found along the way. They started with the jobs you see many college students pursuing. But I’m assuming, like me, if they had taken that same Strong Interest test, culinary would have also came up high. They started their career with one job and ended with another. They’re the type of people I admire: willing to take the risk for their dreams. But I wonder why couldn’t they have started with that dream first. Why go one way and take a sharp turn onto another career pathway? Did something scare them about pursuing food as a career initially? Maybe I should ask them.

1. Joanne Chang: I first heard about her bakery, Flour, on the Throwdown with Bobby Flay, where he lost. I always found that show rather pretentious and narcissistic. Being a well-known Iron Chef, Bobby Flay seemed to think he has the gusto to challenge different chefs in their specialities while learning how to prepare it in a couple of days. Anyways, when I was in Boston, I looked at her About page while finding the address to Flour. She was a Harvard graduate who was originally a management consultant. A check for the usual job of consulting. But she left all that and was a garde-manger cook, which, according to Wikipedia, is an entry-level cooking position. she then rose in the ranks and became a pastry chef and finally returned to Boston to open her own pastry shop. Flour now has multiple locations and with her husband, she opened a Chinese restaurant, Myers + Chang.

  • Did you feel scared leaving your consulting job
  • How were you financially the first couple of years, since working as an entry-level chef would obviously have a lower pay than being a consultant?
  • Did you have any cooking experience before?
  • How did your parents deal with it, especially being of Asian descent?
  • Why did you do it after college? Why not consider it before?
  • What was your reasoning behind earning a degree in Applied Mathematics & Economics?

2. Hasnain Zaidi: I literally heard about him a couple of nights ago, or early morning, after having another insomniac moment. He graduated from Duke University, another prestigious university, and worked in finance at Bain & Company, a management consulting firm. Also another field that most college students eye for. And he dropped all that to do what? Work at Chipotle. Yes, Chipotle. The place where you go to get customized burritos. He went there to work. I’m sure his parents had a heart attack. He acknowledged that his (immigrant, which the host emphasized) parents probably hoped for him to have a professional career, such as a doctor or lawyer. Using the skills from Chipotle, he and 2 friends opened Tava Indian Kitchen, which is similar to Chipotle but with an Indian approach. He admits that he isn’t earning a lot, but he is doing what he loves. “If you want it bad enough, you’re willing to make the sacrifices to bring everything into perspective.”

  • Did you have any food experience before leaving Bain & Company?
  • How did you break the news to your parents?
  • Do you this it was necessary to first be at Bain & Company, to have secure some financial backing, before leaving to start on your own restaurant?
  • What was the process to create a restaurant brand and develop the recipes?
Canele by Celine: Canele and Financier

Canele by Celine: Canele and Financier

3. Celine: I don’t have a quite a lot of information, but I met her at her stand, Canele by Celine, when I was at the Hester Street Fair taking pictures. She was there selling caneles, which are made from crepe batter and baked to create little treats with a caramelized outside that encases a moist center. I featured pictures of her caneles in a post on my food review blog, Fast Food, Etc. It was only after I saw her website did I learn that she was originally a business lawyer who now bakes mini caneles and financiers and shares it with New Yorkers.

  • Where did you learn how to make caneles and financiers?
  • What about your job as a business lawyer made you want to change careers?
  • What made you want to take that big leap of faith?
  • Where do you imagine your business to be in a year and 5 years from now?

Career changes sound so scary. You’ve been working towards this particular career that you have but you’re ready to drop everything to take a sharp turn towards another career. Why aren’t more people enthusiastic to follow their dreams? Why is working in food being labeled as unprofitable? We all can relate to food. It is definitely fulfilling, and filling (pun intended). I’m going to see if it is possible I can contact these featured career blazers. Learning from others is the best way to learn more about your future. What will you do?

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