Serious Eats: Talk

Why are professional cooks and bakers so poorly paid?

Recently, there was an article on pricey trade schools in the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/14/business/14schools.html?scp=1&sq=trade%20school&st=cse). Not surprisingly, culinary schools, which charge high tuition, but don't often result in high salaries for graduates, featured prominently in the article.

The 'to go or not to go' debate has often been hashed out here, but regardless of whether a cook or a chef has a degree or not, I've often been shocked at how little money trained cooks receive: I include experienced, excellent cooks who have worked their way up in this category of great, talented artisans as well as people with degrees from the CIA, btw.

I'm not 'in the industry' except as a writer, so I was wondering: plumbers and other trained tradespeople make 'decent money.' Why not professional cooks? Is it just what the market commands? Is it the lack of respect for food in our society? Is it the high overhead costs of many food establishments?

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