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Goal Top Chef!

At Fongecif Île-de-France, a joint body that finances the retraining of employees, requests for financing training in cooking or pastry CAP (all levels of study combined) have exploded! At Ferrandi, the French school of gastronomy, we confirm the phenomenon:"Before, we had practically only people already in the profession (diver, vegetable seller, etc.) who wanted to obtain their diploma, but today, we are crumbling under requests from lawyers, IT specialists…” But what pushes these intellectual thirty-somethings to give up their jobs to launch an assault on the stoves? A devouring passion for cooking, of course, and above all the desire to get hands-on. "I felt bored and afraid of waking up at 40 having missed out on something," explains Lucie, 28, a graduate of Sciences Po, now a clerk in a 3-star restaurant in Burgundy. . I only wanted to work on my head! For Sophie, 36, now the chef of a restaurant in Paris, after more than ten years in bank collection, the trigger occurred at the start of the financial crisis:"I found myself receiving €10,000 every time I fired someone… It wasn't possible anymore, it wasn't me. So I quit! Today, I am in the sharing, I make discover my culinary universe to my customers. But before living from their passion, these fondues had to go through a lot of stages and challenges.

The baccalaureate, OK, but pass your CAP first!

If you really want to convert to cooking, the first step, after five years of study and three or more years of working life:go back to school to get a cooking or pastry CAP. A training that has a cost (8,748 euros at Ferrandi), and that it is not always easy to finance. "People without qualifications have priority over the bac +5 for individual training leave", we recognize at Fongecif Île-de-France. So you have to be twice as convincing in your project to still get help. Or be able to dip into your savings...

Discipline? Yes sir !

Once at school, we are far from the schoolboy atmosphere of the Ateliers des chefs style cooking class! “In the kitchen, discipline is almost military. We have no right to initiative, ”warns Sheherazade Zemoura, from Greta de Clichy. Indeed, entering the kitchen is a bit like entering the army:mandatory uniform and ultra-hierarchical organization. "The 'reconverted' don't have too much of a problem with authority, however admits Jacques Girard, teacher trainer at Ferrandi, they decided to be there, so they play the game." "I never considered that I was under the orders of a chef, but in class with a teacher”, analyzes Stéphanie. “Being in the role of the student, who only receives, it gave me a rest! even admits Lucie. If they accept the discipline without flinching, for having often exercised it in their first job, these “stove nerds” have more difficulty with the rhythm. "They don't have time to lose, so they want to go too fast and forget to learn the basics, underlines Philippe Leconte, also a trainer at Ferrandi, they want to have the answers before they even start, when it's by doing what we learn. »

More physical than office life…

Step two:the internship. This is where things get tricky. You have to know how to accept the chef's orders, but also the chores without flinching:unloading deliveries, peeling vegetables, cleaning the stoves. And standing for hours at a time, carrying weights, while taking care not to burn or cut yourself. A physical challenge not always appreciated. “I lost 6 kg in the first month and discovered new muscles! “says Julie, a former journalist now a clerk at the starred restaurant L’Arpège, in Paris. "Working up to fifteen hours a day when you're an intern, unpaid and adult, it's hard. Especially since at the start I was more of an apprentice housekeeper than an apprentice cook! “recalls Sophie. “They feel like they are not learning because they are confined to doing the same things all day, like robots, when it is only a phase. They are much less patient than the younger ones! “, analyzes Jacques Girard.

Hard to be "the old woman" of the brigade

Less patient, the reconverted are however so much more motivated that they become recruits of choice for the chefs. After her internship at L'Arpège, Julie was offered a CDI as a clerk by Alain Passard! And Lucie was also recruited in the starred restaurant where she had done her internship. All is not won, however. “They will have to work with young people who give them orders, who play with them. It is often difficult, explains Jacques Girard. At school, we are tough, but never as hard as in business. “At 28, I am the oldest in my brigade! recognizes Lucia. "The others don't always understand what I'm doing here, for them, I'm a bit like an alien!" » It is indeed difficult to explain to very young clerks why we gave up on a very good situation, fixed working hours… « The first two months, the 'reconverted' employees are often tested, you have to know how to hold on, advises Alain Girard. And if they succeed, it's because they see this first job in the kitchen as the last obstacle to overcome to finally realize their dream of retraining.

Salary divided by two… but pleasure multiplied by ten!

“In 90% of cases, the bac + 5 who pass their CAP with us do so to open their restaurant, tea room or guest room. Not to become a kitchen assistant! confirms Sheherazade Zemoura. At the Ferrandi school, nearly 60% of retraining candidates who come to train have a specific idea of ​​creating a business. As a result, no abandonment, or almost, to deplore during the CAP or the internships, experienced as real springboards. On the other hand, many backtrack afterwards. “What surprises them the most:the mountain of things to know, the hardness of the work, the salaries… They imagine that with a small restaurant, they will very quickly earn money. Yes, but on the condition of working alone, without a diver, without a waiter!, exclaims Jacques Girard. School is the easy part. Because a passion for cooking is not enough to become a self-employed worker or a business owner. And this is where the first job often makes all the difference. “You have to have a real awareness of social charges, costs, what a balance sheet is, a profit and loss account. You have to master that to the nearest penny, be able to pay your charges, otherwise it's the bailiff, ”says Stéphanie who was able to take advantage of her engineering training. And otherwise ? "Get an excellent chartered accountant!" advises Sophie. And even if all recognize having divided their salary by three or four, zero regrets. “I do the job that I love and that is priceless! “Summarizes Stephanie. Real top chefs, we tell you!