I truly love my job as it validates my passion and the sacrifices I have made to pursue it. - Nathan Scott
I realized I wanted to be a cook at the age of 19 when I dropped out of college for the first time after a semester of studying marketing. I completed a basic cooking course and got a position at a country club for the summer. After a few years working in various restaurants, I was getting sick of working evenings, weekends and holidays (you know, when normal people go out to eat).
While serving and bartending, I decided to go back to school for paralegal studies. I was always interested in the law and this would be a great way to find a day career in something I found interesting. However, after completing my diploma program, I found it difficult to find sustainable work in the field.
During this time I got an opportunity to work in car rental management. It wasn’t related to my studies, but it was work during the day, and not weekends or holidays. I found a knack for car rental as I moved up the corporate ladder quickly and found myself maxing out my monthly commission protocol, so much so that the company had to rewrite my contract because I was making too much money. After a year and a half of moderate success, I found myself in the good graces of my superiors which put me next in line for a promotion. With this would come fantastic perks and financial stability but also a long term commitment. Even though the money was great and I had a lot more time for friends, I felt hollow inside. I couldn’t see myself in this career for the next 5 years let alone 15 or 20. I was not into a job that just focused on money and moving up a corporate ladder. I have a great deal of respect for people who do a job that pays well, but I don’t think a lot of kids grow up wanting to rent out cars for a living. There was more that I wanted to get out of my life and I felt like I was wasting precious time.
On a vacation in the summer of 2009, I came to a crossroad. I needed to find something that I knew would satisfy me for the next 30 years of my life. After some family conversations and soul searching, I decided to resign from the car rental business and pursue my true passion, food. I got hired as an apprentice making minimum wage in the day and ventured back to bartending and serving in the evenings and weekends. A year later at the age of 30, I enrolled at Niagara College for the Culinary Arts program. Because of my previous experience and maturity, I was able to get through school fairly easily, but I also learned a whole lot more in the process. I guess I just valued my situation and opportunity because of what I had given up. After graduating, and after 8 months finishing up my apprenticeship, I passed my Certificate of Qualification exam and gained my Red Seal for cooking. It was worth it.
At the beginning of 2012, right after completing my apprenticeship, my wife and I ventured overseas to do a six month mission trip. On returning, I did a few months of job searching (which is like an actual job in and of itself), and found a few positions in the culinary field. Some were restaurant related but the one that caught my eye was an opportunity with Yonge Street Mission to head up their Lunch Program. I found them on Charity Village, a website which mainly serves the non-profit sector. With my recent experience being on a mission trip, I thought this would be a perfect transition for me. Right now with Yonge Street Mission, I menu plan and facilitate the lunch program that produces approximately 500 meals weekly for at risk youth ages 16-24. I truly love my job as it validates my passion and the sacrifices I have made to pursue it. It is much easier to get up every morning to go serve and help others while doing something I absolutely love. It’s hard to believe that it took so much time and resources for me to get to a place I never should have left. However, because of this journey, I have a deeper understanding and appreciation of my career and future.
Nathan Scott is Food Services Assistant at Evergreen Centre for Youth, Yonge Street Mission. To find out more about this organization and volunteer opportunities, please visit www.ysm.ca.