I'm a trained chef working towards a hospitality career in Miami. It's all about creating an experience — and faking it 'til you make it.
- Karen Rosenbloom is a trained chef who says culinary school was the best decision she's ever made.
- She's now studying journalism and has a goal to become a private chef who develops recipes.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Karen Rosenbloom, a 23-year-old student and trained chef from Miami. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I've always been drawn to food and being in the kitchen. For every birthday and holiday growing up, I asked for cookbooks, and I was always watching the Food Network and then trying to make recipes from the chefs I'd see on TV.
As I got older, despite going to a very serious college prep school, I opted to start working in restaurants right out of high school.
Restaurants were a brand new environment for me
When I turned 18, I got an unpaid internship through the alumni network of my high school and began working for a local restaurant.
I was confident in my skills, but there was still a lot to learn when I entered a professional kitchen for the first time, like how to use industrial appliances. It's also difficult to ask lots of questions, so at some point you just have to say, "Yes, chef" and fake it until you make it.
That internship was about a month long, and from there I picked up a job in a commissary kitchen.
I applied for culinary school in 2018
I was accepted and started in Johnson & Wales University's culinary arts program in Providence, Rhode Island, that August.
I recommend culinary school to anyone who's looking for a crash course on everything you need to know about the industry — it was the best decision I've ever made.
I learned mixology, the art of hospitality, and how to make desserts and pastries. I also learned about international cuisine, sourcing food, and the history of restaurants.
While in culinary school, I worked at a small restaurant
I prepped food, chopped onions, and peeled potatoes and garlic — the types of things that professional chefs don't really want to do but someone has to do, including the dishes.
Eventually, things slowed down there, so I applied for a position in the dining hall at Brown University and landed the job. I'd work at Brown during the school year, and then at a few different restaurants in Miami whenever I was back there.
Working in mass catering was very different from a small restaurant
At Brown, we cooked all different types of foods for thousands of students. I helped serve the Asian cuisine, where we offered things like orange fried rice and sautéed broccoli with garlic.
My routine worked great for me until the pandemic hit in March 2020. I wasn't allowed to go to work or my culinary classes. But to graduate, I needed to complete an internship.
I decided to try private chef work
I found a private chef in the Miami area, and began to work under his mentorship in June 2020, which counted as my internship. I was working out of a commercial kitchen and doing food deliveries, but once we no longer needed to social distance, we went into people's homes and cooked foods like steak, truffle, and lobster for them. This gave me an introduction to the world of being a private chef, and I loved it.
I graduated in December 2020 with an associate's degree in culinary arts. Around this time, the chef I was working with opened up his first restaurant, Perl, and I helped him. I got to see a building go from a construction site to being a full working restaurant.
Once it opened, I was responsible for the cold dishes, salads, and appetizers and also helped with the desserts. I was often working 60- to 80-hour weeks.
I then went back to school
Beyond my passion for food, I've always loved to write. In January 2021, I enrolled in a creative writing program at Columbia University as a student over Zoom.
But no matter what, I have been and will always be a cook. Cooking is a form of expression and creativity; it makes people happy. I'll always want to be in and around the hospitality industry — there's an undeniable rush you get from working as a chef that I'm not prepared to give up.
Right now, as a full-time student, I miss cooking and serving people. I miss restaurants and private chef work, too.
When I graduate in May 2024, I plan to continue my work as a private chef and also pursue recipe development and publishing.
I've received a lot of good advice
The best advice I've received is that you're never done learning, even after working for decades in a kitchen. Time management is one of the most important skills you can have as a cook — food needs to be timed properly so that it's served at the ideal temperature and you don't keep people waiting.
As a chef, there are also many instances where you have to be personable. You have to be able to talk with others from all walks of life and teach them what you're doing.
As a private chef, I've learned it's about much more than just cooking or making food to serve — it's about hospitality and the experience you give to the client.
I think cooking will always be a viable career path
A lot of prep jobs such as slicing onions, peeling potatoes, and squeezing lemons can now be done by machine; there are even chef-less restaurants now where food is made by robots.
But cooking is an art, and there will always be a need for (human) chefs. I'm very optimistic and happy that the industry is continually expanding and that more and more people wish to take part in it.
- 8 Irresistible seasonal snacks to warm your winter days
- Vijay Shekhar Sharma says 'Wed in India' is a good idea for its food options
- NCLAT stays CCI penalty on NTPC in Ratnagiri Gas & Power shares issue
- A Japanese Start-Up Is Testing a Rocket Powered Entirely By Rocket Fuel Created From Cow Dung!
- Amazon sues scammers for stealing millions of dollars via fake returns