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Peter Cho was a line cook for years before he got laid off from Momofuku during the pandemic.
He used the time to complete a General Assembly bootcamp and take online courses from Udemy.
This is Peter’s story, as told to Julia Pugachevsky.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Peter Cho.  The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I started working as a line cook in 2015, back in my Delaware hometown. I needed a job at the time and also wanted to learn how to cook, so it seemed like a good way to make money on the side.

Eventually, I moved to New York because it has a stronger dining scene than pretty much anywhere else on the East coast. I went to a two-month culinary school program, then worked in fine dining for about four years.

Posing with a dessert at a previous restaurant job.

While I had a lot of fun working in restaurants, there were some big downsides. I made minimum wage, but working 40 hours a week wasn’t enough to sustain living in New York, so I typically worked 60 because every hour of overtime helped.

This also meant vacations were off-limits — a week without pay (plus money spent on a trip) would put a serious dent in my finances, so time off was not an option for me. Even weekend plans were pretty much impossible: my friends would invite me out on Friday nights or on weekend climbing trips, but I couldn’t go because those times are the most lucrative in restaurant work.

Then there was the extreme financial instability brought on by the pandemic.

Creating a post-layoff plan 
The Momofuku kitchen in New York where I worked for a week before the pandemic started.

I was laid off during my first week at Momofuku on March 13, 2020. That’s when I started thinking about what to do next. I noticed a lot of my friends at the climbing gym had tech-related jobs. Their lives, compared to mine, barely changed: They were all able to work from home while I survived off government unemployment benefits for the foreseeable future.

I took a week off to decompress after losing my job. After some research, I decided …read more

Source:: Business Insider


I was a line cook working up to 80 hours a week. A coding bootcamp and online courses helped me land a 6-figure software engineering job with real work-life balance.

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