Make It

Ex-Wall Streeter returns to her first love

Escaping the cube: Cooking school
Escaping the cube: Cooking school   

It was a college job in a French restaurant that sparked Kathy Gold's love of cooking.

"I remember walking into the kitchens, and my heart actually started to beat faster," she said. But because she did not see a viable career path in the culinary arts, Gold majored in Chinese language and literature and took a job in international finance. She spent two decades as a stockbroker and portfolio manager on Wall Street until she left to raise her daughter.

After a few years, she was ready to return to the workforce, re-evaluated her career path and returned to her first love: cooking.

Read MoreA career change that was a piece of cake

She started as a personal chef, working with individual clients in their homes to keep overhead costs low. Her only expenses were her ingredients and the pots and pans she carried with her from kitchen to kitchen. Catering jobs soon followed, and though Gold intended to build this new venture slowly, a profile in a local newspaper in 1997 turned the heat up on her business. Due to the media attention, "business exploded," Gold said.

Soon after, an invitation to do a cooking demonstration at a local cookware store gave her the "a-ha!" moment she'd been looking for: She loved teaching and wanted to open a cooking school. In preparation, Gold ramped up her own education by taking courses at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school.

Chef Kathy Gold in the kitchen of her cooking school in Haddonfield, N.J.
Marco Mastrorilli
Chef Kathy Gold in the kitchen of her cooking school in Haddonfield, N.J.

Her first school location was a small kitchen, big enough to fit four students per class; she squeezed in eight. After two years, she moved to her current storefront in downtown Haddonfield, New Jersey, a spacious bright kitchen with room for a dozen students, plus a full-time assistant. She named her business after the gathering space in most homes.

"When you're in someone's home, everybody gravitates toward the kitchen," she said.

In addition to nightly cooking classes, In The Kitchen Cooking School hosts corporate team-building events and classes taught by visiting chefs. Cheese making, pasta making, pickling and spice workshops are especially popular. At the front of the shop is a small boutique where Gold sells some of the gourmet spices, gadgets and tableware she uses in her own kitchen.

Nine years into her second career, Gold's appetite for cooking is as voracious as ever.

"I'll cook here, and then I'll go home and I'll cook again. It is just really what I love to do," she wrote in an email.