Earlier this year, I relocated to Cincinnati to pursue an amazing opportunity as the Executive Chef of The Camargo Club. This job change caused me to think a great deal about different generations of chefs and the average tenure of myself and my peers.
It’s not uncommon for chefs to travel, relocate, shift from corporate to private, private to corporate, and freestanding to somewhere else. It’s almost impossible to log into LinkedIn and NOT see someone on the move. When I talk with other chefs about job changes, most report that the move is most often inspired by a significant growth opportunity. That’s the culture nowadays—but that hasn’t always been the case.
Many of my mentors held the same positions with the same company for 30 or more years. Why did they stay in one place when so many of us are moving around now? After stewing on this for a while, I came to the conclusion that my generation of chefs is far more aware of what’s out there than any previous generation. Thanks to technology, networking and social media, it’s easy to see far beyond the walls of your operation.
Every position I’ve posted within the last eight years has been posted online. I’m certainly not alone in this strategy. These positions and opportunities are being pushed out at a rate far faster than previous generations ever saw. Plus, the ability to compare and contrast opportunities is far simpler now. A company paying twice as much for the same position right next door may have gone without notice because of the lack of information shared 20 years ago. But that’s not the case anymore. Access to information is driving change—and I genuinely believe it’s for the better.
When I’m hiring, I look for candidates who balance longevity and experience. I feel that someone who has traveled and been exposed to different cuisines, techniques, environments, and locations may bring something more to the table than someone who’s been in the same role for 10 or more years. (That said, there is still something extremely beneficial about long tenure as it shows a person’s level of commitment and loyalty.)
If you’re like I was, and you are contemplating a career change, be sure you evaluate the inspiration behind the move. Be sure you do your research and make sure your next role will benefit your family, career and financial wellbeing. Change for the sake of change means death in this industry, but don’t be afraid to experience something new that will help take you to the next level.
I know firsthand how intimidating it can be to enter a new environment. I know how much hard work it takes to get up to speed. But I also know that putting yourself in new situations can help you build on something no one can teach you. Facing intimidating circumstances, long days, new teams, or the rebuilding of an operation teaches you how to cope with uncertainties and sharpen your managerial capabilities.
This is how you build character, tenacity, grit—and a career.