Advice About Going To Culinary School

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Joined Jan 19, 2021
Good afternoon

I am a senior from e3 Civic High and I was wondering if you could give me some information or advice about how I can become a great chef. I love learning how to cook and I want to learn about the chemistry of food, I also want to learn all about spices that are in the world and how I can cook with them. I also cook when I have free time.

In e3 I had a cooking class where the teacher gave us a recipe and gave us the indigents and she showed us how to cook it if we didn’t know how to cook or chop an ingredient but we would have to prepare it and get the tool that we would use. I was wondering if I could include this in a culinary application?

I also wanted to know, what would you do if you were a high school student like me and wanted to learn how to use spices and cooking techniques and learn the chemistry of cooking but don’t’ have much money? Do you think I should work first and save money for a culinary school next year after I graduate from high school?

Thank you for your time.
 
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Joined Jan 4, 2011
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OK ... the CIA is the best there is. It is however, very expensive and it'll take you forever to get out of debt. My suggestion: ... Find yourself a Jr.College / Community College with a good program. Also get a job that you can practice and learn at for the experience; bars with kitchens are good for that.
 
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Joined Mar 1, 2017
Good afternoon

I am a senior from e3 Civic High and I was wondering if you could give me some information or advice about how I can become a great chef. I love learning how to cook and I want to learn about the chemistry of food, I also want to learn all about spices that are in the world and how I can cook with them. I also cook when I have free time.

In e3 I had a cooking class where the teacher gave us a recipe and gave us the indigents and she showed us how to cook it if we didn’t know how to cook or chop an ingredient but we would have to prepare it and get the tool that we would use. I was wondering if I could include this in a culinary application?

I also wanted to know, what would you do if you were a high school student like me and wanted to learn how to use spices and cooking techniques and learn the chemistry of cooking but don’t’ have much money? Do you think I should work first and save money for a culinary school next year after I graduate from high school?

Thank you for your time.
Get a job in a restaurant first. Learn what this life is like before you go spending all sorts of time and money on an education for a career that has an average life span of less than 18 months.

After 6 months to a year working in a restaurant, if you still like it and want to make it a career out of it, you can either learn hands on from an experienced chef or you can go to culinary school, rack up tens of thousands in school loans, graduate and then learn from an experienced chef. Dealer's choice.

You see, very few places will actually care if you have a CA degree. As an owner/chef, I never hired anyone because they went to culinary school. I hired people based on talent, drive, dependability, maturity and ability. In fact, the chef that bought my restaurant a few years back worked for me for 18 years. She never stepped foot in culinary school and I will put her up against any Michelin starred chef in the world. She's that good.

This life is hard. Very hard, in fact. It has a very high divorce rate and an even higher substance abuse rate. You won't have any time for friends or a social life. Forget about girlfriends or boyfriends. Even if you somehow manage to find someone, get married and have kids, you won't have time for your family. Hence, the high divorce rate. When your family and friends are enjoying weekends and holidays, you'll be working because those are your busiest times. 70 hour weeks are normal. You might get one day off a week, usually midweek and half the time, you'll get called in because someone called out sick. Forget about benefits until you reach management level, which is about a 6 to 10 year track. The pay isn't good.

These are not waters that typically provide good results for those who just jump in blind. If you take a job in a restaurant and learn a thing or two, and decide you like this life, do yourself a favor and get a real education first and then go to culinary school. Because if you decide around 10 years into your cooking career that you don't like it anymore, which is very likely, at least you'll have something other than a culinary degree to fall back on. Culinary Arts degrees will only benefit you in the culinary world and nowhere else. And they are only required if you're trying to get a job on a cruise ship, hotel, resort or a high end restaurant and even then, maybe.

As for culinary schools, there are many. Most are expensive. But, if you're intent on going to culinary school, do yourself a favor and go to one at your local community college. Like I said, no one is going to care that you have a CA degree so, you may as well not spend a small fortune getting it. They don't teach anything in big culinary schools that they don't teach in community college culinary programs.

Choose wisely. Good luck. :)
 
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I can only tell you from my experience. I wouldn't have wanted to start my career going to school when I was 18-20 years old. I self learned by moving around when I was 27 years old starting at the bottom. Looking back and after owning three Food Service Businesses I don't think it would have worked for me going to School. It also wouldn't have worked out real well if I wanted to move up quickly at a young 18 to 20 year old. I think a person has to mature in this business and it's not easy to have that kind of maturity or work ethic at a young age. There is a lot of long hours and heart ache along the way in this business. It much easier to quit than it is to pursue your dream. This isn't the kind of business a person gets into to get rich. In many cases you will always be paid lower than you feel you're worth.
I was lucky enough to do well financially. Making a lot of money was never a goal. Being the best I could be was. The money was great, but, after working in this business for over 30 years I would have to say Self- satisfaction in accomplishing my goals would be at the top of the list.
All that being said, If you have the self drive to work around town with a good work ethic and maturity then wait a few years and see if this is really what you want. IMHO, I've hired Culinary Grads and was never impressed. They were just too young to get what they wanted and give me want I needed. I feel in most cases Culinary School training is wasted on the young.... ChefBillyB
 
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I can't argue with either of those opinions. I went to school after a tour in the NAVY. Maybe that is what worked for me. Anyway ... COD; the College of DuPage is the JC by my house. I'm a grad there. ... NO ... not culinary. 2-years tuition cost me around $600. Now 2-years tuition is gonna cost you around $4,000. What I learned in school was not stuff I was just gonna pick-up in any starter job I was gonna get. The recommendations I got from school got me into some really big-named places ... they got me IN. ... I had to work up to the recs I got to keep myself from being shown OUT. Again ... that was me. ... I am Me and you are not Me. Nobody knows who you are except you. Like I said before ... bar kitchen jobs are where I learned and practiced a lot of skills.
 
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Joined Nov 9, 2020
I want to parrot Virgil, Billy, and Iceman... Before you decide that you want to drop a couple (or few) dozen thousand (or more) in debt for a cullinary school education, be it Hyde Park (or St. Helena) or Austin or Lucerne or Tokyo or wherever, work in the industry for a while. You NEED to know what you're getting into, to quote a chef I once had, who was a young 72 and his retirement plan was to fall face first into a stock pot, you don't do this for the money or the cushy retirement, you do it because it's hard, grueling work and for the love of the art. And you will find out if you got the chops to make it in this insane business.

The other thing is a LOT of community colleges have GREAT foods programs, where you will learn the basics just as well as you could in Sorrento or Montreal, for a LOT less money... PLUS you have a chance to diversify your education, so if (God forbid) we end up with another pandemic situation, you have a fallback position.

One final thing - a letter of recommendation from a Chef that you''ve worked under will go a lot further towards opening doors into some of the better schools... because it will show the school that you have some idea of what you're getting into, and you know what the real world is like.
 
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