The Appeal: You envision yourself concocting delectable delights for a clamoring clientele at the latest "in" restaurant. Maybe you'll even get to be one of those TV chefs.
The Reality: Most chefs don't work in frou-frou restaurants or even blaze trails in the kitchen. Instead, they're assembly-line cooks, cranking out dozens of the same item, night after night. And those are the executive chefs. For each executive chef, a few assistant chefs—the most typical job—spend much of their time chopping ingredients and assembling salads. Plus, chefs typically work until the wee hours, especially on weekends, while most people are enjoying themselves. As a result, chefs often end up hanging out with the same restaurant staff, after the patrons have finally left.
An Alternative: Personal chef, cooking for busy or wealthy families.