After 50 Career
Planning-Ship Captain to Chef
"How a Ship Captain planned his way from the
ship's bridge to the kitchen in a popular Italian
Step-By-Step After 50 Career
Three years ago Ben was a 52 year old tug boat captain based out of St. Louis. He captained a tug
pushing barges up and down the Mississippi River. He'd been a tug boat captain for 23 years
and had started working on the river as a deck hand at age 18. Physically the job, at times, could be very
demanding and he was away from his family much of the towing season.
The men on the tug took turns
cooking. Whenever Ben cooked he tried recipes he remembered from his mother and grandmother. The men enjoyed them
so much that a seed of an idea was
Each winter Ben had up to three months off due to river ice
and low river water levels. He had a high school friend that owned a popular local Italian restaurant. They got
together and Ben inquired how he could get the needed education and
experience to work in his friend's restaurant.
The First Career
Ben began working in the restaurant as a chef's helper when
he was off work in the winter and when the restaurant was busy. The chef pointed him to a local culinary school
where he could take courses during the day when he
wasn't working in the restaurant.
The second winter the chef added to Ben's responsibilities in the restaurant’s kitchen. He continued to
attend classes at the local culinary school.
While on the river his crew couldn't wait until Ben's turn
came to cook. Ben tried new ideas and recipes and became more confident on his cooking abilities.
The Second Career
Ben continued to gain cooking experience.
At the end of the third winter working in his friend’s restaurant, and learning more at the culinary school, the
head chef at the culinary school told him of an anticipated chef's opening. Although a competitor of his high
school friend's restaurant he got a glowing recommendation from his friend and from his
Ben was offered and he accepted the full time chef's
position. Now after six months he has settled into the routine, he's added several popular items to the
menu, and improved and grown the restaurant’s catering business. His leadership and managerial
experience translated well into running the kitchen.
And he is home every day, a big plus for him and his
Summary of Ben's After 50 Career Planning
Ben built on an interest in cooking,
networked with friends and secured a part-time seasonal entry level job. He completed formal
training in the culinary field, and continued with hands-on-experience. When the opportunity
presented itself for a full-time chef's position, he was ready and quit his long time
ship captain's position.
(Ben recently learned that after six months every member of
his old crew lost weight. However, they try to stop by the restaurant and eat some of Ben's cooking at every
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about after 50 career