How much schooling is necessary?

Joined Jan 21, 2002
If I have hopes of someday opening my own restaurant and being Chef/Owner what education is needed? I was thinking originally an associate degree in food and beverage management would do me just fine. Is that enough or should I get my behind over to the university to get a degree in culinary arts management? I also thought why not get the AAS and then transfer? Good idea except that there are courses for the AAS that won't tranfer. I'm talking about 21 units. That's about one year of course work. I don't want to waste any time at all. For those that are or have faced this issue please help me out on this. I need to make a decision now because of the required courses for the BA and AAS are going to go seperate ways following this semester. The only courses shared by both degree programs are the ones in culinary arts.



Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
247, that is a hard question to answer. People have come to the restaurant industry from all backgrounds and with many different degrees (some have no culinary training at all). There is no perfect formula. The greatest culinarians have opend restaurants that have failed, and people with no education have opened restaurants that have stood for years. A lot also depends on what kind of place you see yourself opening and your role in the place. Yes you want to be a chef/owner, but do you also want to take on the responsibility of the FOH (many chef/owners have, many haven't). Do you want, or need partners? There are lots of questions to ask yourself.

Personally, I am very happy with the path I have choosen. I have an AOS in Culinary Arts from New England Culinary Institute. The program really focuses on the culinary side, with a few classes on managing. This has worked perfectly for me, as I always see myself as being primarily a chef, though I feel I could run the FOH if I had to. Through the years, after school, I have picked up most of my management skills and knowledge. I have enough knowledge, accumulated at various restaurants, that I probably could open (if I could ever find the money) and run a restaurant all by myself. But that would be absolutely crazy. I would drive myself to an early grave, Im sure, if I did that. Partner up with someone who has more FOH experience than you, or hire a good GM. Running a large, or upscale restaurant is too much for 1 person, I believe.

Either way you decide about schooling, there is no fast-track to opening a successful restaurant. The best advice I could give anyone is, "Take your time. Pay your dues. Work in a number of good restaurants and take the time to learn from these managers. Then after a few years of doing this, then become a manager (ie Sous chef, Exec. chef, floor manager, AGM, etc.) in someone else's restaurant for a few years. Then and only then, will you be ready to open your own place and have a chance of making it." Estimated timeline 10-15 years. That may seem like a long time, but believe me, it will be well worth it.
Joined Jan 21, 2002
Thanks for the reply, Pete. I appreciate it. I forgot to mention (BIG part of it) that my wife is going to be my business partner. She's also going to culinary school with me and she's in the process of earning a degree in hospitality management. We've decided that when the time comes (10-15 years is perfectly fine) I would run BOH and she would run FOH. So in this sense I don't think I'll need anymore than an AAS in culinary arts/food & beverage management. I realize there's no magic formula for success other than hard work and dedication (with a little knowledge and common sense ;) ). So when the time comes I just hope my wife and I are both ready.

Latest posts

Top Bottom