The perils of being over 50.
Updated: Oct 17, 2019
Half a century and a little bit and I’m in full time employment. I have 38 years' experience in hot, sweaty, pressurised kitchens, cooking for the rich, famous, Royal and not so Royal. Using some of the best ingredients in the world, creating dishes under intense pressure, keeping a steady head, motivating teams of knackered chefs who just want to go to the pub, serving food to as little as a table of 2 to a full blown 1400 kids in a private school.
Why is it then, that when I apply for jobs that I could easily do, I am always overlooked? I posted a similar post on Linkedin the other week and had a few agents phone me up to offer advice and possible avenues of employment.
The problem is though, anybody can talk to you to make you feel better about yourself. That’s not a dig, I’ve known some of these agents for many years. The problem seems to be the employers.
Why should they pay me top dollar for my skill and experience, when they can employ a less experienced, much younger guy for a lot less money, train them up, watch them leave for bigger and better things, then start the process all over again?
If I was an employer, I would be looking for someone with experience and at an age that they can stay with you for the next 8-10 years before retiring. Passing on their invaluable expertise, training the next generation of talent, achieving a healthy gross profit and above all bringing stability and maturity into the workplace. Chefs like me are hard to find these days, that’s not me blowing smoke up my own arse, it's true. I’ve probably forgotten more than most of the young, water bath, sous vide, foam on a plate generation will ever know.
Classically trained, I worked my way through the ranks, when kitchens had psychopaths who held knives to each other's throats, swearing was rife and a 16-hour day was the norm. Don’t get me wrong, there are probably still kitchens like that out there, but it’s all health and safety, company procedures and political correctness in most work places nowadays.
I have been advised to take my age off my CV. My age is not actually on it, but if you do the maths you can easily work out my age by the dates of the places I have worked. Anyway, removing my age - isn’t that ageist or discriminating?
What annoys me most, is the fact that I am being dismissed even before I've had chance to talk to anybody. You can only put so much on a CV. Talk to me, feel and see the passion I still have for this industry. Let me tell you what I can do, tell me your long term goals, tell me about any concerns you have, I’m sure I’ve come across them all before, and fixed them.
Saving grace for me though is s.tuck in a pickle. The private parties are hopefully on the up and if I could just get a few more cookery lessons on the books, then hopefully I wouldn’t have to worry about being dismissed by agencies and employers ever again.