Advice: course choice for further study

Discussion in 'Choosing A Culinary School' started by georgieie, Oct 19, 2018.

  1. georgieie

    georgieie

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    Bachelor of Culinary Management
    Hey everyone,

    I'm a bit new to the community, and after reading through some of the previous threads I'm still left with a few questions and would love some advice/feedback.

    I went straight out of high school to a Bachelor of Culinary Management (4 years) that is mostly focused on 'how to run a restaurant', but I realised that this has left me with a massive skill gap. I'm due to finish my degree next year, and although I'm learning the business side of things, I don't have any accreditation/experience in actual kitchen work. I identified this early on, but to be honest, cooking apprenticeships in Australia are underpaid and I would have been making less than half of what I make now (supervising a restaurant).

    My question essentially boils down to the following parts:

    1) Knowing that I aspire to manage and (hopefully) one day own a restaurant, do you believe that it is essential for me to have a good knowledge of the workings of a kitchen beyond the basic-intermediate knowledge I have now?
    2) If so, do you believe simply completing a cert. would be sufficient, or should I risk it and do an apprenticeship (typically 3 years)?

    BONUS question/statement: I have the opportunity to study a certificate in Commercial Cookery or Patisserie for FREE, would it be worth me taking it even though it would be a further year of study (or 1.5 years if combined)?

    Thank you in advance!
     
  2. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Professional Chef
    I started in this business in Restaurant management and Hotel Food and Bev management. I had a GM early in my career tell me " If you ever want to fire a Chef you better know how to cook". Wise words coming from a wise GM. I've been involved in many positions in about 25 restaurants including, catering, fast-food, fine dining, concessions, private clubs, Hospitals and large employee upscale cafe's. In about half of those food services and including owning my own, I Chef Managed the operations. It was much easier for me to maintain the quality of food if I was involved in the kitchen. I was able to interact with all the wait staff while being on the front line during a busy service. I would also walk the dinning room in every operation when the line slowed. This gave me hands on in every part of the operation. I hired bookkeepers to handle any time consuming actives that happened in the office. I learning early to do what I do good and delegate jobs I'm not good at. I would recommend everyone be able to hold their own in the kitchen. I've also been in operations that I had to fire the whole kitchen staff. This wouldn't have been easy if I didn't know how to cook.

    I also learned something in every operation I was involved in. Don't think you have to just be involved in Fine dining restaurants in order to learn something.........Good luck........ChefBillyB
     
  3. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    Retired Owner/Operator
    First off, welcome to CT! :)

    To answer your questions:

    1) Yes! You cannot lead from the rear. If you are going to own/manage a commercial kitchen, you must know everything that goes on in that kitchen inside and out from the dishwashers on up. Otherwise, how else can you possibly be an effective manager/owner?

    2) Completing the cert only means that you are now ready for your real culinary education that can only come from working in a commercial kitchen. There are many ways that you can develop the knowledge necessary to manage your own restaurant. Of course, working your way up through the kitchen ranks would give you the best and most comprehensive knowledge and experience. But, that will take time. This is a business where time is the investment you make in yourself and if that time is invested wisely, the return on your investment can be substantial. But, there are no guarantees.

    If your goal is to own/operate your own restaurant, then, you owe it to yourself to invest the time necessary to know that business inside and out. I don't think doing an apprenticeship is a "risk." Sure, you may earn less money for a time, but, the value of that knowledge is priceless and will serve you well as an owner. As BillyB said, you don't have to work only in fine dining to learn something. This is a diverse industry. Every moment you spend in a kitchen should be a learning experience in one way or another.

    Good luck. :)
     
  4. sgmchef

    sgmchef

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    Retired Chef
    Hi Georgieie,

    Great advice above! I would add that it helps to learn both the Bar and Waiting tables. Those are positions that you do for the experience, not money. Consider doing those positions while taking the free year of school! I quit a night manager job to take a dishwasher/prep cook position just to work with an excellent Chinese Chef. I didn't take a Bakery bench hand job for the money either! Absolutely no regrets in any job I specifically went to, primarily for the experience. Marriott Banquet Dept. for feeding 400-1000 was different than line cooking too! So very much to learn...

    What major area of YOUR Restaurant will you approach with "I just trust them to run it right, I don't know anything about______" Kitchen? Bar? Books? Wait staff?

    Like sgsyvirgil said "Inside and out"!!! You might have to do a produce order... What count? How many to a case?

    Just trying to provide food for thought. The more you know about "everything" the better your chances of success.

    I found that exerting maximum effort before age 30 made life after 30 a lot easier... Youth and energy sort of stuff...

    I wish you all the best!