Culinary School or Work First

Joined May 11, 2010
Hi people, working professional, chef, cook, culinary students

I would like to ask you, i have got a job from a very professional kitchen, and have a chef who have been awarded michelin star working there. I have went for an interview and he wanted to accept me as a commis cook position (I do not have much experience in the kitchen)as he had shortage of stuff. But i got to sign 1 year contract.  This is an opportunity to have a great chef to hire me and train under him. I know this is  going to be hard as i am not well-trained in culinary skills and starting form the most entry level of cook.

I would like to seek your professional advice, should i go to culinary school first or train under him for 1 year?
For me i think that, go to culinary school first as they teach you the fundamentals then go to work and apply what i have learn.

If go to work first, i will have a better exposure. And when i go to culinary school, what the school teach me,  i have already learn most of the basics that i picked up during working. And somehow, what you learn in school, you only apply some of it. So what the point of going to school, as you can learn the skills and techniques from the chef, also can read books to pick up knowledge.

1) What do you think Chef , go to school first or work ?

2) Is culinary education so important, that can make you to become an executive chef?


Joined Jan 27, 2007
the job, u can learn the best skills with the best chef also in your place. it provides you great opportunity as it gives you wide experience in a formal setting.
Joined Apr 24, 2010
I'm putting in my vote for the job as well. First off, it's only a year (even though, yes, it is a commitment). Second, you might not have the opportunity to work with that particular chef after you're done with school. Third, a lot of people get into school without knowing what the field is like. You could waste a lot of money on tuition only to find out that you don't actually want to work in a kitchen once you're in the job market.

As a chef once said to me, it's unfortunate that too many students in culinary school don't know what they're really getting themselves into, since they don't have the job experience first.

Beyond that, you can become an exec chef without ever stepping foot in a classroom. That's one of the beauties of a true trade. And that's not to discredit school--I toy with the idea of eventually going to a culinary school too. But I think the job experience is paramount, and schooling can later fill in some of the holes.


take the job. it sounds like a great opportunity that won't come along too often. your only fear is being incompetent and getting fired. if this happens, go to school. if you manage to survive and learn, then you are on your way to becoming chef material. then you can go to school if you like.

going to culinary school was the best thing i did, though. it is a humble community college. we share the kitchen with the cafeteria and the student operated restaurant and the bakery, so it doesn't get any more REAL than that. it is crowded with people zooming past you every moment... and often times we have equipment failure or a lack of equipment. it sucks that we don't have better facilities or equipment, but it is a nice dose of reality. (perhaps we are more of a worst case scenario, but the job gets done) its way overdue for a re-model, so next year we work in a tent. also, i have worked with 6 Chef's with very different personalities and (after an initial adjustment) i have learned to thrive. considering many drop out, i think this is a good test... i love it so much, i'm probably going to continue beyond the basic culinary arts degree.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
There is nothing, repeat nothing, as broadening as working under a chef. No, you won't learn everything from him. But the experience, on many levels, will be invaluable if you remain in the industry.

In short, as everyone else has said, go for the job. You can then enroll in culinary school if you still feel it necessary---which it perhaps won't be, depending on how things work out on the job.

And, no, you do not neet a culinary school degree to become an executive chef. In fact, one of the falacies their advertising leads to is the idea that you'll graduate and immediately become a chef. It doesn't work that way.
Joined Nov 20, 2000
Okay I have 2 resumes in front of me. Resume #1 the person just graduated from Culinary School or maybe has a job or 2 under their belt.

Resume #2 is a person who just worked for a year under Chef so&so. I know of Chef so&so and if the person was not capable they would not have lasted a year. So now I know resume #2 has Michelin experience through osmosis, I'm more likely to go with resume #2 because they know how to work fast and work clean and listen and learn (more than likely anyway)

So I am going with resume #2-you.

Take the job!
Joined May 11, 2010
Thank you guys for your feedback. I going to culinary school. While waiting for my enrollment in school, i now working as an apprentice cook.
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