Some big stuff is happening in 2020, but if you’re a chef whose livelihood traditionally comes from restaurant work you may not know COVID-19 (and its impact on our world economy) is only a small part of the bigger picture.

Right now the US is printing trillions of dollars to place a band-aid over an economy that showed signs of huge cracks before the global pandemic, and that’s causing a shift and widening crevice between those with wealth and those without.

Chef, pay attention. How you work, the way you’ve lived and what you earn is changing right under your nose. You cannot afford to sit on your unemployment check while waiting for a return to normal traditional employment. It’s time to be afraid, very afraid — but (in a good way, the way that gets you moving to start you own business.

What you choose to do this year will impact the rest of your life and career. (No, that’s not an exaggeration.)

Here are three things culinary professionals can do to be on the right side of the wealth transfer.

Chef, educating yourself will change your financial future.

It’s never been more important for the average Chef Jane and Chef Joe to understand money. I’m not talking about mastering the simple exchange of your hard work for a check (you’ve got that in spades). Money is flying all over the place right now, and unless you understand the basics of financial systems you’ll be left in the dust.

I’ve always been impressed by how hard chefs work. You bust your chops for pay, give up your time for money, put your family and joy on the back burner. All for your check. So why not spend some time learning how money actually works? You don’t need an expensive degree, you just need to start getting your hands on information about the tax system you automatically opt into or out of when you get a paycheck vs start a business. You can change your financial future, chef, when you understand which concepts help you and which concepts hurt you.

Your Mindset is a Helpful or Deadly Tool

Your ability to participate in this wealth transfer depends upon how you think about money and wealth. When the crazy events of this year settle out we’ll see how different the world looks. That’s when each of us will see people walking away from things unscathed while others are bewildered by having the rug pulled out from under them.

Change is everywhere. And, right now, money is everywhere. All you have to do is fine-tune your thinking to become a part of this ‘new way.’ Here’s a few tips:

  • Challenge the beliefs that hold you back.
    (As a working chef, if you identify with and take pride in your ability to suffer, this is the place to start changing your thinking.) 
  • Stop numbing out.
    (Putting your head in the sand will not fix your situation. Like it or not, things have changed and you must invest time in your new future.)
  • Fight stress with healthy daily practices.
    (So many chefs place work and others first, putting their physical and emotional health at risk. Stop. This is your wake up call, chef. You’re worth taking care of.)
  • Get more information.
    (On everything. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Get information from people you agree with and from sources that challenge your beliefs. Verify, explore and challenge the information you’re absorbing and seek out sources that support your success.)
  • Dare to believe in yourself.
    (Alice lived in Wonderland, and sometimes believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. Learn from her. For when you let yourself stay stuck in reality, you are your own worst enemy, limiting and eliminating options for growth and abundance. Dare to see the best in yourself and others and the situation you are in today — it’s the way to build a better future for yourself.)

Change the Way You Make Your Money

When it comes to investing we instinctively understand the concept of diversification. Yet so many chefs rely on a single source of income, the restaurant. Chef, this makes no sense. So let’s talk for a moment about the elephant in the room. When it comes to making a living and building for your future, overreliance on a single company to fill your bank account is downright careless.

Chefs who master money understand: 1) how to make it, 2) how to spend it, 3) how to keep from losing it, 4) how to get money to give them a return on their investment; and, 5) they spend time developing side projects which bring additional money into their world.

Here’s the real deal: betting on one source of income is careless.

Moving Into the Future as an Independent Chef

Chef, you are more than just an employee with a pulse. I know this, you know this. The chefs I work with are talented, artistic, generous, hard working and professional. Most chefs I know work harder for someone else than they do for themselves, and this must change. Your life has value. Your knowledge has value. Your work is needed, necessary, vital. That is why it’s so worth it to invest in and bet on yourself — and your work as an independent chef. Whether you work as a personal chef or private chef, if you want to be on the right side of this wealth transfer you need to engage in work that profits you, that has a dollar sign representative of your value.