life changing decision, need some advices esp from prof chefs.

Joined Dec 24, 2002
hello, from the topic, you can see that this is quite big for me.

i am about to make a life changing decision but i am unsure of wether i am making the right choice or not.

i am thinking of making a career change and thinking of signing up with a local culinary school to pursue a career as a professional chef. currently, i am a graphic designer specialising in multimedia. my folks comments that it is quite an extreme change.
but my dad are rooting for me 100%. he just wants me to think over this carefully and make up my mind. which i am at splits.

i went to the culinary school for an interview and they advise me to sign up early as its on a first come first serve basis. so i gotta make sure i make up my mind fast.

ok. to cut the long story short, do any of you think that i should make the change? it be like starting all over again and i have no idea what the cooking life is like except that i love to cook a **** lot. will that be enough to sustain? also, will it be too late to start from bottom? i am 24.
sometimes i wanted to, but sometimes i am afraid of making bad judgements. i am making some decent money with current work but i cant quite say i am comfortable when i think that this is what i will be doing for the rest of my life. it kinda freaks me out.
Joined Feb 21, 2001
I started out when I was 24, but didn't get to culinary school till I was 46. I'd go for it, if I were you. More of your success depends on your own drive and initiative, willingness to work hard and learn, than on anything else. You are completely in control of your own attitude. At your age I wouldn't give you any disclaimers about how far you could expect to go, or to lower your expectations. You have the world in front of you.
Joined Dec 17, 2002
Well I would like to respond to your question as I see your situation, but I am certianly not a professional guidance counselor or anything. Being only 24 years old is not a bad thing at all. In fact when you consider a career change, the culinary industry is one of the best options cause you don't need a ton of schooling. Any school will accept you and you want to choose the best one so you can get off to an even faster start. I worked a few years in the industry before I went to culinary school. When I was there I saw plenty of people in your shoes and older than you are now! Your love to cook is most of the battle and making bad judgements is all part of life. You have to learn by going through the fire. If you jump into the industry right now you will start at the bottom. Take 2 years out of your life, and invest it wisely. At the school I went to, there were plenty of offers right out of school. Private chef, restaurant chef, corporate chef, research & development, food styler, pastry chef, and many, many more options. With your background you might want to think of a food stylist or designer. There are many environments in the food service feild. Some stressful and some relaxed, enjoyable, and very rewarding, but you have to pick which one you want! Easy huh? Good luck.
Joined Jan 21, 2002
Welcome to CT!!!

First off, that "first come first served" thing is a load. If you had the $$$ and came in a week before classes started you'd get in. There's always someon who pulls out at the last moment. What school are you looking into?

Too old?!?!?!?! Gee thanks. :D I'm 27 in culinary school. No you're not too old. Just right in my opinion. I think you need some time to figure out yourself. Something very few teenagers get to do. If you need help deciding on a school I'm sure the opinions will be here. Good luck.
Joined Dec 24, 2002
thank you all for the replies. it gave me alot more confidence now to decide. i have no friends whatsoever in this field so i am really stepping into unchartered waters. i am also an only child, so there are quite a bit of expectation on me.

the thing is with this culinary school is that they are opened by the local hotel association. i am in southeast asia. so they have this limited class of 25 person per class. because their ratio is 1:1 (student:stove). they have only 50 stoves..(i think. cause the counsellor was saying they have a class of 25 each. and every term its only about 2 classes) so every term they only accept 50 students for the culinary skills dip program.
This is the best school there is around here and they are linked with many of the big international hotels here.

also, beside the slight disadvantage of age, what about sexual discrimination? From my impressions, most top chef/cooks are like males, i wouldnt know about America or Europe, but right here, thats about the trend. Btw, i am female. What i would really like is to be able to work outside my area. I would really love to be able to work in Europe.
Joined Dec 17, 2002
Being female makes no difference at all. And anyway if there was a problem it would be with the other person not you! When I graduated culinary school my class had about 9 out of 72 who were female and that was in 88'. Now the male/female ratio is larger. Some of my professional friends in the business are female chefs, managers, bakers, and many other positions and I can say all of them unique tallents! And that is not from being female, but because they have passion to express themselves and being self-driven individuals. There are many opportunities to work through or after graduating culinary school. Europe has many apprentice programs as well as the States. I could certianly research some of those for you here in the States if you would like? Good luck in you decisions to come.
Joined Oct 6, 2002
The only thing I have to warn you about is the wage difference between the two jobs. I don't know what the salary base and cost of living is in Southeast Asia is but here in California, entry level cooks pay about $8 an hour. That is very little compared to what graphic designers make here, especially in multimedia.
Another thing, try getting a restaurant job before going to culinary school. Culinary school and restaurant work is night and day. I have ran into many cooks who love to cook at home but hate the hustle and bustle of a professional kitchen. In a professional kitchen you are told what to do for about 2-5 years before you actually have some creative input.
I don't mean to be negative, but these are just a FEW things that admissons reps won't tell you in culinary school.
Don't rush school! If you have the money you are in.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
If you're not European it will be difficult to reach executive level in a Southeast Asian hotel. If you're not European and not male, it's downright impossible.

Depending on where you are, wages may be good or bad. Wages are OK in Singapore but in Indonesia you couldn't buy a pair of jeans on a week's salary. Matter of fact, wages are pretty low across the board unless you're in Singapore.

Joined Oct 13, 2001
I would take the shot if this is were your heart leads you . You can always fall back on your previouse profession if need be . I would follow some of the allready given advice though and perhaps take an entry level job first to test the waters and see if this is really your cup of tea . Professional kitchens are some of the most stress laden waters you can ever tread . You really have to have a love for the heat of battle as well as a love for food in order to excel at this biz. I myself never attended culinary school but I did apprentice myself to some really good european chefs and survived the training . I remember it as some of the hardest work physically I have ever done , not to mention the mental challenges as well . I support your decision and wish you nothing but the best and remember , if you get busy , well , just work a little faster . Your friend in food , Douglas.............
Joined Nov 10, 2001
Hello mflo,i would suggest that you look at a number of culinary academies.I know there are a number of places in Canada & the U.S. where the tuition is brilliant.
There are a lot of highly qualified chefs here who will be able to point you in the right direction.
As for working in Europe,i would advise you to gain some serious work experience before you make the move.
There are pitfalls in being a chef,such as regularly working unsocial hours.There are positive aspects attached to the hospitality industry.
You can always move on after you`ve graduated,there`s no shortage of chef posts in Europe.
Good luck,Leo.
Joined Aug 7, 2001
Can you work for free somewhere to try it out. Folks on the boards know I did this, I worked in a professional kitchen for over a year just to see what it was like before dropping all that hard earned cash on a culinary school. Now I know that I absolutely loved it, and if I decide to go to school, I won't have a doubt in my mind about loving the cooking, and having a realistic idea of what working in a restaurant is like.

The apprentice program seems like it fell by the wayside in America, where I am, compared to Europe. Try to swing a way to learn a little before you leap into the unknown!

Joined Feb 17, 2003
It has been my experience in this industry that not just anyone can cook for a living. You have to be different, special. I have worked with quite a few people that for whatever reason, are in the business, but don't really seem to get it.

I have devoted my entire life to cooking, and cooking well. I have a passion for what I do, when things don't go well, I am really upset.

If you haven't cooked in a pro kitchen before, I would give it a try before giving up your current career, and spending all of the money for culinary school.

Just my $0.02...
Joined Mar 3, 2003
I started working in my families restaurants at a very young age and loved it from the start. But in my late 20's decided to try something else, which didnt work. So here I am back in the culinary industry.

Everyone is right when they tell you to try it before you sink all your money into it. Some people can handle the pressure of being a Chef while others can't, and most of us know that the pressure can make or break you. Expecially if your an emotional person.

Hang in there though and do what your heart is telling you. Atleast you have another proffesion to fall back on. Good luck in your adventures. ;)

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