Desire To Start Cooking Again... Thoughts/Advice?

Joined Sep 29, 2015
Hi all,

I'm a 21 year old guy currently living in france. Back in the day, when I was 18, I got a job in a French kitchen as a dish washer. A few months later I was promoted to food prep followed by helping the head chef. I really have no idea what you would call a guy like me. It was a small restaurant... there was the head chef/owner myself and a dish washer/prep guy.

Anyways, I worked there for a year and LOVED it! Food/cooking has always been a passion of mine ever since I was little. Unfortunately, I had to leave the US for familial reasons and came to France. I am now in training to become a heating/cooling/plumbing technician. 

Recently, I got the keys to the small, local campus kitchen and started cooking for myself and a friend. Afterwhich, his friend joined and others. Now, I'm cooking almost every night for 7-8 people and having a BLAST. Due to this, it's sparked a fire inside and I have a huge desire to finish my training and go to some sort of culinary school. However, I have no idea what this entails and if it's a good idea, so I thought I'd pose a few questions here.

First, is 21 too old to become a chef?

Is there work in the culinary world or is it hard to find jobs?

How difficult is a good culinary school to get into? What are the usual qualifications? 

What do you learn at a culinary school? I ask because my friend's girlfriend  who went to a culinary school for 3 years recently cooked for us and I was not at all impressed. She seriously didn't seem to know her way around a kitchen.

What are the cons of being a chef/Working in a kitchen?

Thank you in advance for your time in reading this and if you took the time to respond, then I give you a huge thanks because this really means a lot to me.

Peace and happy cooking,

Joined Aug 13, 2013
To answer all of your questions:

No 21 is not too old to become a chef, no age is "too old"

There is a multitude of work in the Culinary field if you are willing to work hard

Culinary school is not at all difficult to get into. Most require around a 2.5 GPA, and possibly some work experience

What do you learn? The basics of cooking, correct terminology, some costing and menu development skills. But not very much on how to actually work in a restaurant sadly. To be completely honest, you live in France which is basically culinary heaven. Go work in a kitchen, learn everything you can and try to move up the line. Everything you learn in school can be learned in a restaurant kitchen in half the amount of time.

Cons? Long hours, work/life balance is very bad, working when everyone else is off, on your feet all day, high stress and high pressure environment. The chef life takes a special breed of people for sure.

Hope that helps!
Last edited:
Joined Oct 31, 2012
     It's funny how some people's lives work out. What you experienced as happenstance is what many cooks in the US would love to do on purpose, that is to  move to France and work directly with a good chef. 

   I would recommend you finish your training as a heating and cooling technician. Those jobs pay well and you will have a second career to fall back on. This will also help in the kitchen because very few cooks can repair the refrigeration.

  I agree with everything nicknack said. Plenty of work but long hours, etc. 

Go back to the chef you worked for. If he can't give you a job then see if he can recommend you to another kitchen. 

     As nicknack said, you are already where culinary school graduates in the US would like to go. Best of luck. 

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