How to become a chef

Joined Sep 6, 2004
First off My name is Kyle and I'm currently a Junior in High School. I live in Orange County, California. I like to cook food and I am thing about becoming a professional Chef. I have a little experiance working in a kitchen at a boy scout summer camp cooking for about 300 people. I have worked there for a total of 5 weeks over the past 2 years. I enjoy working in a kitchen. So I have some questions to ask y'all.

1) What does it take to get into a cooking school. Right now I am looking at the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena.

2) I want to get more cooking experiance in the next 2 years before I graduate High School. Where can I go to get cooking classes or even a job as an apprentice. Where are good place to look. Also what are some good books/internet sites that show cooking and food prep tecniques.

3)Any other advice for a wanna-be chef is appreciated.

Joined Apr 28, 2003
Pretty kewl that you already know and off to a start to achieving your goal.

Most cooking schools I know of require you to finish high school as your first piece of admission and your personal average varries between cooking schools, usually the more prestigious schools require a higher personal average then your Joe Shmo culinary instution. Because your in the states and post secondary schooling isn't subsidised by the gov't, be prepared to pay mucho money on tuitions alone.

Books, I'm sure pretty much everyone here will suggest the Professional Chef 7th edition. I would also suggest The Professional Cooking 5th edition if you cannot find the other. Both contain lots of information about ingredients, techniques, loaded with recipes, and a glossary of terms and definitions but theres also a lot of info that may not interest you of yet like recipe conversions and the more technical stuff.

Jobs or apprentiship, pretty much anything you can get your hands on and what you can handle. Regardless if your working in McDonalds flipping burgers or in the Baley's hotel preping eclairs, your still working in the food service industry building experiance. I don't know how apprentiship works in the US but here, its all controled by the gov't. You need to find someone who already has their red seal will take you as an apprentice. After say 3-4 years, you will either go to school and learn the adv. theory or if you've already done so, take your red seal test.

My only advice for you right now, experiment. Get a good footing in what exactly you want to do before doing anything really. See if you want to be a chef or a pastry chef, italian or cajun styles, essentially getting a better idea on what you want to do since the word chef stretches across many fields. Look into it.

Good luck :chef:
Joined Mar 21, 2001
Hi Kyle,
If you are looking for information on learning how to become an apprentice, check out this web site: If you don't fine what you are looking for here, give them a call down in Florida on their 800 number. I'm sure someone at the American Culinary Federation will be happy to help you.

Joined Dec 4, 2001
I don't have any advice to give you particularly. Headless and Cooking_Sherry have pretty much covered it. I just wanted to say that I am very impressed with your approach and the thought you have so obviously given to it. I wish you the best of luck.

Joined Nov 17, 2002
Aside of what has been mentioned...

The advice that I give anyone is that there are certain things that one must do to succeed in this business ( and I still do, even after being in the business for twenty something years)

Watch, Learn, Listen, Ask, Read, Ask, Read more, more, more...every question has an answer, sometimes you just need to look for it, question things you don't understand... feel, see, smell, taste, listen...once the senses are trained, it is unbelievable what you really know and sometimes I can smell things before they are about to burn, I can be in my office and listen to the sizzle of a pan and know that the pan is too hot...never be afraid of new things, or old ones for that matter...attempt to acquire a taste for everything...

(Cheffy despises hominy grits...but I still cook them 10-15 times a year in some way, shape or form to see if I changed my mind...)

Most of all---Be one with the food and love everything that it is and everything that it has meant to all walks of life through the portals of time...

Joined Apr 14, 2004
Great advice- listen, feel, smell, know your food. Just like you know when a baby or pet is sick, you will just know when something is not quite right. Cheffy is right, read and read and ask, you can learn a lot from the TVfoodNetwork- I recommend watching Alton Brown and reading "On Food & Cooking" by Harold McGee (It's a book on food science) It will give you a better understanding, a leg up in school and your career. Knowing the hows and whys will help you realize your end goal that much easier. Once you master the basic techinques of cooking, you can take that anywhere, apply it to any cuisine, with your own personal spin. Once you have your foundation, best advice - cook from your heart, make sure you put the "love" in it.

Good Luck to You, Young Chef To Be!
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