Advertisement
business

Cooking Up a Satisfying Career

Chanette Purser-Smith, 27, of San Francisco stirred up trouble as a teen before studying the culinary arts. Now she follows her own recipe for success as head chef at a West Coast wine bar.

As told to Deanna Pan

What was your life like before culinary school? I was in and out of small jobs and the legal system. I had a lot of missed court dates, and I had a possession charge for a small amount of marijuana.

SEE ALSO: How to Size Up a Job Offer

Advertisement - Article continues below

What was your breaking point? I was into drugs and living out of my car or staying with friends when I realized I couldn’t live like that anymore. I called my dad, who works for the U.S. Department of Labor in Boston, and told him I needed to change.

Why did you decide to enroll in Job Corps? My family suggested that I look into it to learn a trade. The Shriver Job Corps Center, near Boston, would provide me with housing and a stipend, then send me to San Francisco for advanced training. I came to the conclusion that it was either jail or Job Corps.

Why choose culinary training? My grandmother is a great cook. And I put my all into my cooking, just like my grandmother.

What was your training like? I could work at my own pace, so I excelled and finished basic training quickly. In advanced training, I learned how a restaurant works. At that time I was also working at Town Hall, a Michelin Guide–rated restaurant in San Francisco. That was like graduate school for me.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

How did you get your current job? I did a birthday-party gig for a restaurant owner. After the party, she asked me to come in for an interview, and I found out she wanted to open a wine bar, Pauline’s Wines.

What do you like about your job? My proudest work has been at Pauline’s Wines because it’s my own menu and I get to play with different flavors. For example, instead of duck, I use chicken thighs to make a confit. I crisp the skin and put the chicken on cremini mushrooms and kale.

How do you feel about the progress you’ve made? I have a sense of pride and strength now that I’ve worked in this industry. My name is worth something now, and it travels well. Good word of mouth is so important in this industry—that’s what gets you a job.

Advertisement

Most Popular

12 Tax Deadlines for July 15 (It's Not Just the Due Date for Your Tax Return)
tax deadline

12 Tax Deadlines for July 15 (It's Not Just the Due Date for Your Tax Return)

Between due dates for IRA or HSA contributions, paying estimated taxes and other deadlines, there's more to do by July 15 than just filing your federa…
July 10, 2020
65 Best Dividend Stocks You Can Count On
stocks

65 Best Dividend Stocks You Can Count On

These 65 Dividend Aristocrats are an elite group of dividend stocks that have reliably increased their annual payouts every year for at least a quarte…
July 8, 2020
Know Why Your Credit Score Changes: 9 Money Moves to Consider
credit & debt

Know Why Your Credit Score Changes: 9 Money Moves to Consider

Your credit score is a key indicator of your financial well-being and of the risk you pose to lenders. How good is yours?
July 10, 2020

Recommended

Nursing in the Time of COVID-19
Financial Planning

Nursing in the Time of COVID-19

This health care professional warns that the pandemic will worsen the nursing shortage.
July 2, 2020
Chiropractor Trying to Get Business the Wrong Way – Illegally
careers

Chiropractor Trying to Get Business the Wrong Way – Illegally

A new chiropractor’s fledgling business plan to attract patients may sound reasonable at first look, but it’s actually against the law, and the same p…
June 30, 2020
Post-COVID-19, Seniors Must Chart a New Path in the Workplace
retirement

Post-COVID-19, Seniors Must Chart a New Path in the Workplace

Those most vulnerable to the pandemic will face challenges in the return to work, even as the recession means they may need their paychecks more than …
June 11, 2020
Dealing with an Early, Unexpected Retirement
retirement

Dealing with an Early, Unexpected Retirement

Current economic and health crises may be pushing many toward an unexpected retirement. Now is a good time to make a plan for yourself, just in case.
June 9, 2020