Climbing up w/o a degree?

Joined Apr 19, 2015
Hi all. I'm a new cook, been through a few restaurants for about 7 months now and I'm motivated to become a sous one day.

Question: Is it an absolute necessity to hold a degree for one to be promoted to a chef role in a professional kitchen?

Joined Sep 9, 2012
Absolutely not, I'm an Exec without a culinary degree (actually went to school for anthropology and nursing), the only requirement is to learn as much as you possibly can without question so that when you are in a position of authority you can run your kitchen as you see fit. The harder you work, the more willing and eager you are, most chefs will want to teach you what they know. Spend this time refining your technique as well, it's all about passion, learning and practice. The higher up you move the more of the business side you'll learn which is a huge responsibility of a chef. No need to stop at sous, you can go all the way!
Joined Apr 19, 2015
Thanks a lot. That's good to hear. I'm in a good place that has a lot of learning opportunities so I'll gladly take that advice and apply it
Joined Sep 5, 2012
My degree came from the school of hard knocks, I do very well. A Culinary degree is opressively expensive niw a days, if you have the drive and aptitude you dont need it. Good luck to you.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
While I have a culinary degree, I agree with Lagom and Lauren, they are not absolutely necessary, and as Lagom pointed out, they can be very expensive, especially if you want to go to one of the really good schools.  It really sucks when you get out of culinary school, with a mountain of debt, and get stuck working $9-10 per hour jobs.  And yes, you will still be stuck working those types of jobs for awhile, until you build up some experience.  I have known many a chef that never went to school and they excell in what they do.  That being said, I do think that a culinary education can kind of fast track a career.  Yes, you still have to "pay your dues" and build up experience, but what I think culinary school does well, is that it exposes you to a lot of different cuisines and a lot of different chefs, each with their own way of doing things.  The amount, and variety, of things that you are exposed to at culinary school would take you years and years out in the real world..

In other words, there are pros and cons to each path, but each path can get you where you want to be.  It mostly depends on whether you are willing to work for it or not
Joined Aug 8, 2015
Experience experience experience usually almost always trumps degrees. That being said the stuff you get in school makes it easier to go from an hourly paid cook to a sous chef and a salary. You have to be able to cook and experience and training on the line will be invaluable. However to make the jump from lead line cook to sous or exec you need to know about purchasing, inventory, scheduling, FOOD COST, and school really helps for that. I always said my culinary degree never really helped me till about four to five yearz into actual work and when the developed skills met with all the knowledge that was when it all clicked and i started earning a real living. If you can find a chef who is willing to work with you on the business side of things soak up all that info and it will increase your worth.
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