About Culinary School

Discussion in 'General Culinary School Discussions' started by chef douglas, Feb 14, 2005.

  1. chef douglas

    chef douglas

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    10
    So I have come to a fork in my career path so to speak; I have been working professionally in a kitchen since I was 16 (Not that I really count the 2 years from 16 - 18 as the restaurant was simply a diner) and now being 23 have worked hard at what I do and have worked up as far as Sous Chef at 2 different establisments (A bistro in Aspen, CO and a more upscale Italian Restaurant in Ohio)

    I currently am employed at a Hotel/Resort where I am a more of an all around cook (I help the Executive Chef with Banquets, work at the Restaurant in the Hotel when they are short, and the other Restaurant that resides on the Resort grounds, which is my main assignment)

    My skills are well rounded from making stocks and soups to sauteing and grilling. So pretty much the fork is: I look at my Executive Chef who never went to Culinary School, learned like I am from the "School of Hard Knocks" and the Chef de Cuisine who went to school and they are pretty much equals. Is it all that important to have that piece of paper that says I can cook? What are some schools? (By schools I mean schools that train you well) I have only really looked at the CIA in Hyde Park, NY and ACI in Scottsdale, AZ the latter only because my Exe and I got into a conversation about the schools; while I understand that CIA is "The Best" I am sure there are some other schools that stack up equally well.

    Any advice, opinions, comments?
     
  2. cape chef

    cape chef

    Messages:
    4,508
    Likes Received:
    32
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Theirs much to be said for "The school of hard knocks" and I think they may be some of the best cooks in the biz.Not everyone has the financial where will all to attend school.The advantage of TSOHK is the ability to grow within a kitchen, and become an excellent technician and master basic kitchen skills. It's like growing grapes for wine all your life and producing great wine, or graduating from U.Davis with a degree in viticulture. Who makes better wine and why?
     
  3. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    6,711
    Likes Received:
    324
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    I say, look into certification. See if that's right for you.
     
  4. chrose

    chrose

    Messages:
    2,518
    Likes Received:
    33
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    A lot depends on what you want to do I think. If you have aspirations of becoming an Exec. at a large upscale institution where big money is involved then I would say school is the way to go. Anytime large budgets are involved a piece of paper is usually what gets the job, not always but I would think more often than not. Otherwise you be an excellent Chef, a brain, talent, a good resume and referrals will take you as far as any degree.
     
  5. suzanne

    suzanne

    Messages:
    3,853
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Food Editor
    Think about where you want to be in a few years: if you want to be cooking at a high level, but letting someone else do the managing (except for ordering, inventory, recipe development, kitchen staff training, and such), then stick with the path you're on now. Find the best chefs you can to learn from.

    However, if you think you might want to be a culinary manager in addition to being a skilled cook, consider school. There are subjects you will learn better in school, such as financial management, accounting, scheduling, marketing and promotion, etc. than you can from another chef who has learned it on the job. School can teach you trucs of management that it would take forever to learn at work, if ever.

    If you decide that school might be the way to go, don't just rely on the hearsay of "It's the best school in the country." Ask, "Best in what ways? Does it have what I think I need? Will they expose me to everything I need to learn about, or just show me the stuff I already know?" Investigate as much as you can: talk to the admissions reps, sure, but try to observe a few classes, look at the requirements to see what you will HAVE to take and what is optional, talk to faculty and to current and past students. You may not be able to do all that, but the more you can learn about how/whether the school fits YOUR needs, the better an experience it will be for you if you go there.