August 22, 2017

Designing The Perfect Career Path

By Amanda Webb, Culinary Alumna, R&D Specialist at VSAG and R&D for Farmers Restaurant Group

Five years ago I was working in promotional marketing in Maryland with a degree in Kinesiology – Sport Studies from the University of New Hampshire, which, clearly, I wasn’t using. On the side, I shared my life stories on my blog and increasingly wrote about food, dining out, and homemade recipes. Soon, food was on my mind all the time.

It was time for a change.

I dug into how to combine my degree with a career in food. After taking a cooking class from Carla Hall, a fellow L’Academie alumna, I learned that L’Academie de Cuisine was only a few minutes from my house. With that, I decided to attend culinary school.

I wanted to design my own path and create a career that allowed me to write, have a flexible schedule, and work from home when I was ready to start a family. At this point, choosing culinary school meant setting aside my degree from UNH, but in hindsight, the skills I learned from it served me well throughout my career.

I graduated from L’Academie in 2012 and completed my externship with Founding Farmers at their Montgomery County location in Maryland. I chose Founding Farmers for all the reasons I didn’t want to work in a restaurant: it was new, high volume, and extremely busy. I stood on expo (food expeditor) during my stage shaking in my boots, thinking to myself, “How do they work so fast and manage all of this? How could I keep up?” Then I figured, this place is new. I am new. What better way to learn than with a restaurant that also has their training wheels on?

After six months on the line at Founding Farmers, I was prepared to make a career on my own. But my hard work had showed and the corporate chef for the company asked me to stay on as a trainer for the new Farmers Fishers Bakers, set to open in a few months.

I accepted.

Once my job as a trainer at Farmers Fishers Bakers completed, I was offered a position working the line, with the goal of eventually taking on a management position.

I declined.

I wanted more flexibility and less time on the line all day long. After negotiating with the corporate chef once more, I started a position along his side. It was an extremely unique position that required me to do something different every hour of every day. No two days were identical.

For the past five years I have worked with VSAG, the consulting firm that operates Farmers Restaurant Group, and all of the Founding Farmers restaurants. In the beginning, my time was split between working at home doing paperwork and in the kitchen conducting research and development, menu development and food showings, training and assisting the corporate chef. Today, I work 100% from home and started the family I always wanted. My days are full of administrative work, managing sales numbers, food costs, menu reviewing, costing, sourcing – anything that doesn’t require me to be in the kitchen.

Also, I work 500 miles away in Vermont. And I’m exactly where I want to be in my life and career.