Adjusting your path and your passion in hospitality

By Jamie Burke

The restaurant industry can be all-consuming, and while many spend their lives within hospitality, adjusting your path to continue to fulfil that passion is a real and attainable goal.

 “Si t’arrête de suivre ta passion, tu perdras ton âme”

“If you stop following your passion, you will lose your soul”

Mark Marin, originally from the south of France but now living and working in the food and beverage industry in Vancouver, British Columbia, remembers these words well from his father, who he refers to as “papa.”

As a young adult at the time, he was trying to decide what to do next with his life. He was at a crossroads between two options: plumbing, the career path his friends were choosing that appeared to be a more financially stable option, and cooking, which he had loved since he was a little boy but wasn’t sure what kind of future it would bring.

He ended up listening to his papa’s wise words and hasn’t looked back since. And while he’s loved his work, a career in food hasn’t always been a straight line. From working in a two-Michelin Star restaurant to using his knife skills as a butcher to earning a sommelier diploma to his current role as a sales consultant for a food supplier, Marin has seen it all – plus the kitchen sink.

If you’re looking to switch careers but still want to stay in hospitality, take a page from Marin’s book to prepare for a new chapter in your professional path, whether in or out of the kitchen.

See every moment as a learning opportunity

Curiosity will not kill the cat when it comes to your career path. “I’ve had vast exposure to different kinds of people, coming from different areas of the world, which was super important,” said Marin.

Keep an eye out for all moments, both big and small, in your workplace. These observations can serve as opportunities to learn new skills or see a different perspective that will benefit your professional growth.

Marin recalls a moment from his childhood when he was about seven years old when a family friend of theirs, training under the great French-born Monégasque chef Alain Ducasse, was cutting a cucumber into very thin slices. This simple moment impressed upon Marin the importance of meticulous organization, precision, and cleanliness: principles he still carries today in his career.

Be open to pivoting

Life changes, both on a personal and professional level. Goals you had when you were at one stage of your life may change with age, time, and context. Marin reminisces about his time working at a two-Michelin star restaurant in France as a Chef De Partie De Viande when he was 27 years old.

“It was a crazy high-end position,” says Marin. “I had a wonderful time, but it was really intense in terms of your working hours; I was putting in at least 70 plus hours a week. It’s a stressful atmosphere.” Work-life balance is important and can be tough to achieve in hospitality, often leading to burnout – or worse – for dedicated workers.

RELATED: A look at the mental health of today’s hospitality workers

Marin kept an open mind when it came to mapping out his career. By not being married to a vision of what working with food meant, he was able to be honest with himself about his goals and lifestyle preferences. “I knew it wasn’t sustainable for me, but my goal was to work there for one year to experience all four seasons of the menu as a whole,” he said.

He was able to pivot his existing skills from the French restaurant and use them in other settings, where he would have more structure and balance while working daytime hours, which he preferred.

Whether you intend to grow within the same organization or switch to a new place, having a flexible approach will help you take your current skills to a new level while learning how to use them in different ways.

Keep the fundamentals

Despite the differences in each of Marin’s roles, he emphasizes that the fundamental principles remained the same in each one. Structure, technique, and being methodical were still at the core of each job he did.

Connecting with people is also a key component of any role in the hospitality industry. “It’s important to be able to relate to all kinds of different people,” shares Marin. After all, at the heart of every meal are both the people who cooked it and those who enjoyed it.

Finding a different path in the food and beverage industry, in or out of the kitchen, will take some creative thinking and adaptability. But if you take Marin’s experience, along with the wise words of his “papa,” you can make a big career change, remain in the foodservice industry, and hold onto that passion for your work.

 Jamie (she/her) is a freelance writer, as well as partner of a marketing agency, Burke By Burke, with her husband Eddie. She is an avid reader, self-proclaimed foodie, urban land economics enthusiast, Barry’s Tea drinker and part-time yogi. She lives, works and plays in Port Moody, BC, on the ancestral and unceded homelands of the kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), q̓ic̓əy̓ (Katzie), qʼʷa:n̓ ƛʼən̓ (Kwantlen), qiqéyt (Qayqayt), and Stó:lō (Sto:lo) Peoples.