- Karen Rosenbloom is a trained chef who says culinary school was the best decision she ever made.
- He is now studying journalism and aims to become a private chef who develops recipes.
- This article is part of the series “5 trends to bet your career on”.
This narrative 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 have always been attracted to food and being in the kitchen. For every birthday and holiday growing up, I would ask for cookbooks and I would always watch the Food Network and then try to make recipes from the chefs I saw on TV.
As I got older, even though I went to a very serious college prep school, I chose to start working in restaurants right out of high school.
Restaurants were a whole new environment for me
When I turned 18, I got an unpaid internship through my high school’s alumni network and started working at 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, such as how to use industrial appliances. It’s also hard to ask a lot of questions, so at some point you just have to say “Yes, Chef” and fake it ’til you make it.
This internship lasted about a month and from there I got a job in the commissary’s kitchen.
I applied to culinary school in 2018
I was accepted and started in Johnson & Wales University’s culinary arts program in Providence, Rhode Island in August.
I recommend the culinary school to anyone looking for a crash course in everything you need to know industry—it was the best decision I ever made.
I learned mixology, the art of hospitality and how to make desserts and pastries. I also learned about international cuisine, food sourcing and the history of restaurants.
While I was in culinary school, I worked in a small restaurant
I prepared food, chopped onions and peeled potatoes and garlic – the kinds of things professional chefs don’t really want to do but someone has to, including the dishes.
Eventually things got slow there, so I applied for a position in the dining hall at Brown University and got the job. I would work at Brown during the school year and then at a few different restaurants in Miami when I got back there.
Works in catering establishments it was very different from a small restaurant
At Brown, we have cooked different types of food for thousands of students. I helped serve the Asian kitchen, where we offered things like orange fried rice and sauteed garlic broccoli.
My routine was working great for me until the pandemic hit in March 2020. I wasn’t allowed to go to work or take cooking classes. But in order to graduate, I had to complete an internship.
I decided to try a private chef
I found a private chef in the Miami area and started working under him in June 2020, which was considered my internship. I used to work in a commercial kitchen and deliver food, but after we no longer needed to social distance, we went into people’s homes and prepared foods like steak, truffle and lobster for them. It gave me an introduction to the world of a private chef and I loved it.
I graduated in December 2020 with an Associates Degree in Culinary Arts. At the time, the chef I was working with opened his first restaurant, Perl, and I helped him. I got to see a building transform from a construction site into a fully operational restaurant.
After it opened, I was in charge of the cold dishes, salads and appetizers, and I also helped with the desserts. I often worked 60 to 80 hours a week.
Then I went back to school
Besides my passion for food, I have always loved to write. In January 2021, I enrolled in a creative writing program at Columbia University as a Zoom student.
But no matter what, I have been and always will be a chef. Cooking is a form of expression and creativity; makes people happy. I’ll always want to be in and around the hospitality industry — there’s an undeniable rush you get when you work as a chef, and I’m not ready to give it up.
Currently, as a full time student, I miss cooking and serving people. I miss restaurants and being a private chef too.
When I graduate in May 2024, I plan to continue my work as a private chef and also develop and publish recipes.
I got a lot of good advice
The best advice I’ve ever been given is that you’re never done learning, even after working in the kitchen for decades. Time management is one of the most important skills you can have as a chef – food must be planned properly so that it is served at the perfect temperature and you don’t keep people waiting.
As a chef, there are also many occasions where you need to be presentable. You need to be able to talk to others from all walks of life and teach them what you do.
As a private chef, I’ve learned that it’s much more than just cooking or preparing food to serve – it’s the hospitality and experience you provide to the customer.
I think cooking will always be a viable career
Many preparatory tasks such as cutting onions, peeling potatoes and squeezing lemons can now be done by machine; there are now even chefless restaurants where the food is made by robots.
But cooking is an art and there will always be a need for (human) chefs. I am very optimistic and happy that the industry is constantly expanding and that more and more people are willing to participate in it.
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