What is it Like to Date a Culinary Student (and Line Cook)?


I’ll be honest.  I have no idea what it’s like to date or be married to someone in culinary school, as my chef/husband never went to culinary school.

So when a fellow chef/girlfriend, offered to share her story, of course I said yes!

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Kathryn.  Her boyfriend is going to Culinary School AND working as a Line Cook at the same time.  I know there are others of you that can relate to her story!  I’m sure she’d love to hear from you in the comments after you read it!

Tell me a little about yourself and your chef (how you met, how long you’ve been together, do you have kids, etc.)

I moved to Michigan in August 2011 for grad school.  I was really lonely because I was all alone in a new state, so a former college roommate of mine came to visit me for the weekend a couple of weeks after I’d moved in.  We were listening to music when we heard a knock at the door from the guy who lived in the apartment directly below mine.  He invited us over to his apartment, where he and his roommate were hanging out and playing video games.  Tuesday of that week, I went out with the guy who had knocked on my door, and we have been together since.

What position does your chef/cook have in the kitchen?  Briefly describe the size and type of restaurant he is working at (fine dining/casual, size, privately owned or part of a restaurant group, etc.).

At the time we met, my chef had just graduated with a degree in physiology (originally had wanted to go into the medical field) and was working as a cook in a local Greek fast food restaurant while trying to figure out what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.  In June 2012 he moved back to metropolitan Detroit to work at Quicken Loans.  He worked there for many months before deciding the job wasn’t for him.  He tried a few other jobs, thought about what he liked to do, and considered his options before ultimately deciding to go to culinary school.

He started in the culinary program of his local community college in the 2013 fall semester.  Now he has just finished up his second year, with one year left, and is currently working as a sauté cook at a very small (seats 60), but very busy, seafood restaurant in a wealthy suburb of Detroit.

What is it like to date a culinary studentDo you work outside the home and if so, what do you do and what are your hours like?  If you stay home full-time, describe your responsibilities.

I work as a secretary in the Lansing, Michigan area.  My hours are 8:30-5:30 Monday through Friday.

From what your chef has told you or you have observed, what does he do in his current position and what is he responsible for?

As the sauté cook, he prepares and cooks the meat and seafood.  For a while he was trained on the salad station, so some days they’ll put him on salads.  But for the most part, he’s on sauté.

What does a typical week and day look like for your chef (hours, days off, etc.)?

He’s a full-time student and works almost full time, so his time off is usually very limited.  This last year in particular was ridiculously busy; he was always either in class, doing homework, or at work.  His summer class will be ending soon, but he still works long hours at the restaurant.  He usually works afternoons until closing.  The restaurant closes at midnight (except on Sundays, when it closes at 10).  After he’s done with the cleaning, it’s often 12:30 AM by the time he leaves and nearly 1 AM by the time he gets home.  Thursdays seem to be his usual day off.  Sometimes he’ll get another random day off; sometimes he doesn’t get any day off.

How does your chef’s schedule fit with yours?  What is easy/difficult about that?

His schedule is obviously very different from mine, which is difficult.  But that’s actually not the hardest part of our relationship.   Remember when I said that he’s in the Detroit suburbs and I’m in the Lansing area?  If you’re  not familiar with Michigan geography, that’s over a 70 mile distance between us.  It’s not a super long distance, but it’s also not the kind of distance one can easily drive to see the other whenever we’re off the clock, and we’re definitely not living in the same house.  So, not only do I not get to see him while either of us is at our work, but I don’t even get to see him in-person when he gets home.  Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I can usually see him through Skype for an hour or so before he or I fall asleep.  We also began meeting up in a town halfway between us for dinner and sometimes a movie on the days he has off, usually Thursday evenings.  All-in-all, I get maybe a few hours face-to-face with him per week.

Does your chef bring work home with him (phone calls, email, texts, menu planning, etc.)?

He doesn’t really bring any work home with him at this level, but he does have homework for school.  The work is different depending on what classes he’s taking at the time.  It might be menu or recipe creation, writing reports or critiquing something he’s made, or even doing book work.

What type of chef laundry do you have to deal with at this level?

I don’t deal with any of his laundry, since we don’t live together.

What do you feel is the biggest change when your chef moved into this position, vs. his last position?

His last position was at a nice burger restaurant.  The biggest change was probably the hours.  The burger restaurant was also a bar, so they were open until 2 (even the restaurant), which meant he got home a lot later.  There’s also the fact that he was mainly cooking burgers at his last job, while now it’s mostly fish.

What is the hardest part about this position in the kitchen for you as a chef wife or girlfriend?

The hardest part is that I can’t physically be there for him.  Between the hours and the distance, I can’t give him a hug after a bad day.

What (if any) are the perks of this kitchen position (for him or for your family)?

For him, he gets to try all kinds of seafood, and he’s learned so much about all different kinds of crazy fish I’ve never even heard of.  For me, I’m basically considered part of their restaurant family.  For us, there’s the perk that his hours at work are a little more flexible than a higher-level position.  If he were higher up in the food chain (pun intended), it would be harder to get days off.  Not that he gets to take a lot of days off whenever he wants.  And even if he could get days off, he couldn’t really afford it, since he has classes and books and materials to pay for.  But it’s easier when he does need to get day off.  Lastly, there’s the perk that he’s finally working in a field he likes and is generally happy in.

Can you relate to any of what Kathryn has mentioned?  Any other relationships that span than many miles?  Let us know in the comments below.

What is it like to be married to a chef

View all posts in this series here!

From one chef’s wife to another,


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