DR. WALLACE: I want to be a chef when I grow up! I love to cook, and I'm good at it. I also like to eat my own cooking!
My mom and dad can't help teach me because they don't know how to cook very well at all. In fact, as my sister and I have been growing up, we've had a lot of frozen pizzas, prepackaged microwave meals and fast food in our home.
However, on my own, I've learned to improvise and get recipes online and teach myself how to cook delicious and healthy dishes of all kinds.
Does going to school to be a professional chef cost a lot of money? How would I get a job as a chef after I graduate school? Can girls be chefs? I'm a girl who just turned 17, and all of my friends are stunned at how well I can cook already. And within my circle of friends, I'm now known by the nickname "Kitchen Kitten!" — Chef in Waiting, via email
CHEF IN WAITING: Of course ladies can be great chefs! There have been many wonderful, groundbreaking female chefs who have changed the landscape of the culinary world forever with their styles and innovative techniques. I suggest a history lesson for you is in order so that you can review the backgrounds of some of the most successful female chefs and learn about their stories and their styles.
Perhaps start with Alice Waters, who's often credited as the inventor of "California cuisine." Alice loved French cooking techniques and was one of the first to incorporate fresh, local produce and natural ingredients.
Other famous female chefs include Rachel Khoo, Clare Smyth, Julia Child and Rachael Ray. Each of their stories can easily be researched online.
You will need to practice the fundamental techniques of cooking via working in a modern restaurant, and it may also be worthwhile for you to get training at a culinary school at some point, but there are costs involved in doing this. The average culinary school costs around $25,000 and lasts up to12 months. I absolutely advise you to follow your passion and your rapidly growing skill set. Who knows; at some point, you might find your name among the others I've listed here today.
I CAN'T FIND A JOB
DR. WALLACE: I got my first job when I was 16, but that was a year ago, and now nobody works at that restaurant anymore due to the pandemic. Ever since then, I haven't been able to find any other suitable part-time job.
Do you have any suggestions on what I can do to find work in my local area? — Bored and Broke, via email
BORED AND BROKE: Finding part-time work during the Covid-19 crisis is indeed quite difficult. There are many people in the same situation, and many "head of household" adults have also lost their jobs.
You may find a way to help people who have lost a lot in their own lives by volunteering at a Red Cross location or a local shelter. Helping people during difficult times can make you feel better and keep you busy. You may find a job or activity you like to do as you go about helping other people.
And as you go forth with your volunteer work, be sure to let others know that you'd also like to find a paying part-time job, too. You might be surprised at how well networking might work in an environment where you are first seeking to help others.
Finally, if you do volunteer, and if you do obtain a good referral, take the new paying job opportunity with gusto! But be sure to stop in and volunteer, or at least encourage others, as your time permits. You may find some great people there who you'll enjoy keeping in touch with regularly as like-minded friends.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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