I would like to know which school has the best degree

Discussion in 'General Culinary School Discussions' started by dcifan2k, Sep 25, 2001.

  1. dcifan2k


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    I am a senior in high school and have known I wanted to be a chef since eighth grade I am just really confused and a little scared in choosing a school I have been looking at Johnson and Whales bachlors degree in culinary arts and have also been looking at the CIA, the Western Culinary Institiute, the Le Cordon Bleu in pasadena, Southern New Hampshire U. and the Culinary Academy in San Francisco. I'm just not sure what the best way to go is to get the best education I can. I appreciate all the advice I get, this is my first time on this site and I just want to thank you in advance.
    Michael Fulton
  2. suzanne


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    Food Editor
    As you'll find when you explore posts on this and other sites, being a chef requires a lot more than just knowing how to cook. If you want to "just" cook, go to work in a restaurant (the best that will hire you) and work your way up, OR go to a culinary program -- even a community college will give you good training. But if you want to be A CHEF, then go to a good business program (B.A. or B.S. degree) and work in restaurants while you're in school. Because you'll need to know finance, human resources, languages (Spanish, French, Italian, Hmong, Creole), psychology, history, literature -- a zillion things besides how to cook. And unless you want to stay awake 24 hours a day, half working on the line and the other half reading and talking to people, your best bet is to learn the business and management part in school, while you get the practical cooking experience. All the schools you mention are good, but if I had the chance to start over at your age, this is what I might do. Best of luck, and keep involved here.
  3. elakin


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    good advice, suzanne.

    i was 25 when i decided i wanted to be a chef. i had already graduated from university with a b.a., so i went to what was essentially a a.a./community college-type cooking school (CHIC in chicago) to get just the practical cooking basics.

    it's served me really well. i wouldn't have planned it this way, but i think it's been a great way to go for me.

    getting a degree in something non-cooking related gives you a valuable sense of objectivity and big-picture-ness, i think.

    after working in many restaurants with grads from cia and j & w, and feeling a bit out of the loop, i've discovered that many other big-name chefs came along in much the same way; trotter--b.a. in poli sci from UW madison, mark miller--anthropology, alice waters--sociology, literature...and on and on...

    it's good to be focused and really gear yourself towards a career as a chef... but diversity also adds something to the equation.

    also, i worked in restaurants while at school and, looking back, i think this is what inspired me to head in this direction, plus i was getting experience the whole time. funny...at the time i thought i was just earning beer money.
  4. w.debord


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    I ditto both Elakin and Suzanne! To really succeed as a chef you'll need a good education, don't only focus in on cooking knowledge.

    It's best to go to college right out of High School. Don't think you can go back and pick up some classes if and when you need then. It's MUCH harder to do when you have bills, a family and a full time job!!!