Whistle While You Work
March led us back to the west coast for our 2009 Seattle Rising Star Revue and Awards Gala (see our Behind-the-Scenes photos and Honorees Dinner wrap-up), and further north to Whistler in Canada for a little mountain resort culinary trek—okay, and a bit of late winter skiing.
But first a look into our 2008 Salary Survey Results—they are here in all their graphic and chart glory! We discovered some surprising and not-so-surprising shifts from last year, too. For the first time in four years chef salaries are down across the board, and pastry chef salaries got hit even harder, falling 13%! And in an ironic twist, the city with the highest average salary is Miami, but Florida ranked the lowest for average salary by state with New York at the top (read our feature for more details). But keeping it all in perspective is important: on average executive chef and chef de cuisine salaries are still well above the US median household income of $50,740.
In our fourth annual feature, we summarize our findings on salaries by position, restaurant type, geography, gender, and ethnicity. And, moving beyond just the dollars and cents, we also gathered information on average number of hours worked, position breakdowns by gender and race, and age/experience. Check it out to see where you stand—or to find out how you can bump up your own salary.
Maybe a little seasonal work is what you need to boost your resume and earning power. Home to over a hundred restaurants, including the largest F&B operation in all of North America at the Roundhouse Lounge (we’re talking a seating capacity of 1,800), Whistler packs an impressive culinary punch—and not just on the consumer end, but for chefs and cooks, too. The mountain town is technically a “resort municipality” and the restaurants on the slopes are operated by Whistler Ski Company. The company beefs up employment during the high seasons, staffing up to 800 in the winter and 400 in the summer in their Food and Beverage operation alone. If you’re a snow-loving chef or more of the summertime hiking/biking/rock climbing sort, snagging a seasonal job in Whistler just might be a perfect match.
The range of restaurants between Whistler Village and the mountains is varied and fairly vast for a resort town. A few chefs stand out in the crowd for offering not-your-typical ski town food and even going a little molecular. Araxi Chef James Walt tinkers with spherification in some of his dishes, but is careful to keep all of his food very approachable with more familiar components, like tuna and lamb. Jeffrey Young is the chef at the Westin hotel’s Aubergine Grill and shows off his culinary skill with a very refined sense of dish presentation (honed from years of participating in serious, white-knuckle culinary competitions)—a great chef to work under if you’re looking to improve your own plating aesthetic. Bearfoot Bistro’s chef, Melissa Craig, has a way of putting soul into her dishes; she relies on luxury (and high-cal) items like foie gras and cream to help deliver it. Her Tasting of Foie is a rich foray into the various classic textures and forms of the fatty liver, but put on the plate in a totally modern fashion. Getting a few months experience in Whistler could be a great resume boost and the pay for seasonal jobs is typically higher, as well. Read more about the Canadian mountain village, restaurants, and chefs in our mini travel feature Whistler, Canada: Where to Eat and Stay on the Slopes, Year-Round.
The next Letter From the Editor will focus on the culinary scene in San Diego, CA. And don't forget to keep up with me on Facebook and Twitter. I'd love to hear from you!