How I Turned My Passion for Food into a Successful Career

I have always been a major food lover. It’s a trait that runs in my entire extended family. Food is one of the main topics of conversation at our family gatherings. My dad can whip up mouthwatering Chinese dishes and my mom’s lasagne would make Garfield jealous! My grandfather hosts a barbeque dinner in his backyard every fortnight, while my aunts and uncles have won various awards in cooking competitions locally and internationally. Suffice to say, we are one big foodie family.

As an only child, my parents passed on all their passion for food to me. I was barely three when my mother would take me into the kitchen with her. She was so easy-going and always let me poke around in the various pots and pans sizzling over the stove. My parents designated me their primary food taster. They would let me taste sauces, dips, gravies, soups in fact, pretty much everything they made before serving it to the guests.

Of course, at such a young age, I only cared about getting to taste so much yummy food, but as I got older, I became more discerning. I began to distinguish between the various flavourings, herbs and spices my parents would use in their dishes.

Over the years, I started cooking on my own. My culinary journey began with basic recipes that I’d get from YouTube, with one of my parents always supervising in case in burned down the kitchen. But with time, they started giving me more and more freedom to cook on my own. Once I got free from school work, I would go to the kitchen and experiment with the various ingredients available there. To help me along, my parents would occasionally take me to five-star restaurants to give me a better discernment of gourmet cuisines. They also encouraged me to try street food of all kinds. Not only was this delicious, it also helped me a lot when I began creating recipes of my own.

Nobody was surprised when I announced my decision to open a restaurant. I had already wowed my family when I took over cooking for our Sunday dinners. My friends also got to taste my meals whenever they came over. They all supported me in my decision and told me it was the best career choice for me.

And it’s a decision I’ve never regretted once. As the owner of a busy gourmet restaurant in a posh area of town, my work is endless and demanding, but I couldn’t be happier. As I have a team of people serving the diners, I can spend more time in my large, bustling kitchen creating and testing new recipes and teaching them to my staff. For me, there’s no better way to spend my time.

Let me tell you, though, that my culinary journey was by no means easy. I had to face hurdles along the way, but I took them as a challenge to try even harder. If you’re someone who’s just entering the professional field and looking for ways to turn your passion into a thriving career, I can offer some tips that really helped me:

  • Start small

Don’t take on too much at once. Make sure to do your research before starting. Determine how much demand there is for your business idea, gather your resources, and identify your target market. I started my business by selling to family and friends. They, in turn, promised to spread the word. Soon, I started getting orders from friends of friends, and so on, until I had enough clientele to rent a tiny space where I began serving takeaway. With demand increasing, I opened a small café with a few tables for diners. And so on. My point is, I determined the demand and adjusted to it. This way, if my idea had failed to take off, I wouldn’t have been left bankrupt.

  • Make sure you’re qualified

Being good at something and being an expert at it are two different things. People will only take you seriously if you’re a professional. Make sure to get the proper training before you start marketing your skills. That’s some of the best advice I’ve received from my dad, who told me that being able to cook well didn’t automatically mean I could become a successful restaurateur—I had to lay the groundwork first. And so I went to one of the best culinary schools in the country. There, learned about the millions of skills that go into running a professional kitchen, such as food safety, sanitation, palate development, and knife skills. This helped me get a better insight and awareness when I opened my own business.

  • Have a support system

This is very important. You need to have people you can count on in both good and bad times, since you can’t do it all on your own. I made sure to keep my family and friends involved in every step of my business. Not only did they help me spread the word, but they were also there for me every time I accomplished a new milestone or when I needed a sympathetic ear during rough times (yes, there were plenty of those!).

I even joined some culinary groups online. These consisted of foodies like me who were always willing to talk about drinks, desserts, appetizers—you name it. It was great connecting with so many like-minded people. One of my favourite groups is definitely GatherOnline, which has a range of forums where we can discuss different food-related topics. Some members have even ordered some of my recipes and rated them, allowing me to expand my market. It’s been a great experience so far!

Joining online communities has definitely profited my career. I encourage you all to join groups like GatherOnline so that you have people to run ideas by or discuss topics of interest with.