Culinary school for a 30+ with no experience

Discussion in 'Choosing A Culinary School' started by Marton, Nov 13, 2018.

  1. Marton

    Marton

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    Hi All,

    I'm 35 and realized after 10 years of doing something totally different that I want to change to something I am passionate about.
    Could you give me any good advice if i'm thinking about a culinary school in Belgium or France in English? :)

    Cheers, and thanks for your answer in advance
     
  2. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    Hi and welcome to CT! :)

    There are quite a few culinary schools in France, especially Paris. Le Cordon Bleu jumps to mind. But, very few of them are going to teach their courses in English. The ones that do offer courses in English are probably not going to offer the sort of degree that you are looking for.

    Here is a decent website that may start you in the right direction for schools in France.

    https://www.culinaryschools.org/international/france-cooking-schools/#context/api/listings

    In Belgium, you are likely to find just as many culinary schools. But, again, most of them do not offer their courses in English.

    If you want to find culinary instruction taught in English, you will likely have to choose a culinary school in an English speaking country such as the UK, US or Canada.

    If I may offer a piece of advice, cooking professionally and cooking at home for friends and family are two very, very different things. Being passionate about food is good. But, the skills you have in a home kitchen will be of little use to you in a commercial kitchen. Before you commit to this rather expensive and very specific course of study, I would recommend that you take a job in a commercial kitchen for a few months to see if a life in this profession is for you.

    Good luck. :)
     
  3. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Hi Marton,


    Read your post. Please, please, pretty please DO NOT ENROLL IN A CULINARY SCHOOL UNTIL YOU HAVE WORKED IN A KITCHEN FOR AT LEAST 4 mths.

    Sorry about the screaming, but it needs to be emphasized....

    Look, just because you enroll and graduate from a culinary school does not guarantee you will be suitable for work in a commercial kitchen, does not guarantee you will like the hours or lifestyle, nor will it guarantee you a job either. Work in a kitchen— any kitchen FIRST, and then see if you like the work. It won’t cost you a dime, matter of fact quite the opposite. If you like the work, THEN get into a culinary school.

    Now for the big one one, why a school in France or Belgium that teaches in English? French would be the national language of both countries, no? If you don’t want to learn French, take a course in an English speaking country, otherwise you’re just a tourist, waiting to get fleeced.

    Thirdly, the majority of cooks and Chefs in Belgium, France, Switzerland, Holland, etc., don’t go to private culinary schools, they do 3 or 4 year apprenticeships.

    Sorry to be umm... abrupt and straightforward, it’s just that reality has no soundtrack.....
     
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  4. Seoul Food

    Seoul Food

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    Where do you currently reside? What is your current career, and do you have any restaurant experience, and if not what is your end goal of going to culinary school? If it is just to get experience I would suggest finding a place that could take you on and teach you some things first. Starting into the field later in life is fine but you may have to take some reality checks about health concerns in the long run, abilities and where you want your career to end up.

    On a side note, I know a lot of people are passionate about cooking at home or for friends and family but that does not always end up transferring 100% into a satisfied job path. For some turning your pleasures and passions into a job or work is a fast way to make it unappealing in the long run.
     
  5. Pat Pat

    Pat Pat

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    I somewhat disagree with foodpump.

    I went into culinary school with zero home or restaurant cooking experience, and that turned out to be for the best.

    I was able to absorb all the knowledge better than my experienced classmates, and that translated very well into real work after graduation.

    It's true that you could save money by first testing the water at a restaurant before committing to this profession, but your experience at work will be much more pleasant and rewarding if you go into it with all the skills and knowledge needed to succeed.

    Just think of how different your experience will be competing in a sport that you know all the rules and techniques versus one that you haven't a clue how it's played and have to learn everything on the fly.
     
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  6. Seoul Food

    Seoul Food

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    I didn't see it mentioned anywhere your age when you went to school. When I attended culinary school it was mandatory to have 1 year of restaurant experience before you could start. I did feel like I could absorb much more information because I hadn't been exposed to it before. On the other hand I did see many older students from restaurants that either left or did poorly because they were taught and set in their ways about things before coming to school and thus could not learn as much. Not saying that is always the case but it is a consideration to take when spending time in a restaurant before going to school.
     
  7. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    Devil's advocate here. :)

    Think of spending 2-4 years and tens of thousands of dollars learning the rules of the sport without ever having played the sport or even knowing if you are going to like it. Throw in the fact that by the time you are done learning the rules and a ready to play, you are 10-20 years older than the average player at your level.

    If a 40 year old, recent culinary school grad came to me for their first job in a commercial kitchen, my first reaction would be "when did you get out of prison?" lol. Just kidding. But seriously, I would begin to wonder why someone his age would change career paths at such a late time in their life. I would naturally wonder if he/she couldn't cut it in their previous line of work. They would have to come up with an answer that is far more convincing than "I'm passionate about food and I'm chasing my dream." As an owner, I have a business to run. I don't need dreamers. Managing a staff of 10 people whose average age is less than 30 is already like trying to herd a group of cats. lol.

    I wouldn't want someone working in my kitchen who hasn't answered the question "is this life right for me?" That's why I always asked those who were new to this business who came to me for a job "what makes you think this life is right for you?"

    Ok. I'll get off my soap box now.

    How about those Red Sox?
     
  8. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Funny, that hasn’t been my experience at all. Way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, in the early ‘80’s, I took a 1 yr culinary class at age 18. Out of a class of 24, 7 didn’t make it past the first semester, 6 of those 7 had no prior kitchen experience. After grad many of those who had no prior experience had difficulty finding work—actually they had difficulty working for minimum wage, they had assumed school would get them a higher wage.

    Currently working with culinary students on 2 week practicum stints, I realize there are two distinct groups: Those who are eager to work and learn, and those who still can’t comprehend that the hospitality industry’s working hours are different then say, I.T., and that we work hours most people don’t. That’s not to say that people don’t change and adapt, many do. But many of those who have adapted wished they weren’t so naiive before getting into this industry.
     
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  9. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    That's what makes this industry so interesting. Everyone has different experiences and different ways of reaching the same goal.

    Btw, the dinosaurs roamed the Earth in the 1970's. :)