Terrified and in need of advice

Joined Aug 6, 2011
I come from a long line of Military officers, Master's degrees and PhDs. In my family, going to culinary school is considered untraditional and therefore a bad idea. They've gone to great lengths to make me change my mind. I'm starting culinary school in two weeks in an effort to go from home cook to professional and possibly food writer later on. Unfortunately, all of these horror stories my family feeds me are starting to work and this has caused an enormous amount of tredipation. I need advice on what to do when I arrive at school.

What books I should read before-hand?

Should I know certain sauces or anything thing else before I attend a hands on class?

Should I take more than one Food History class?

Is there any way that I can stand out in a highly competitive field?

Most of all, how can I stay positive when facing so much pressure?

I realize many of these questions may just be me freaking out but I have nothing to go on here.
Joined Jun 14, 2002
I feel for you. My mom was a MA and my dad was Phd. I got my first job out of high school flipping burgers at this San Fernando Valley nudie bar. Broke my mom's heart, it did. My dad was just happy I wasn't being a bum. I was a stubborn blockheaded jackass, so I stuck with it.

Let me give your questions a good think, and get back to you. My general advice to people who are seeking a new profession by going to culinary school is that you should a) work in the industry for a while to see if you want to make this your career before committing the money and time for school, and b) go to a voc ed school. Not much sense into going into debt to attend Corden Bleu or CIA.
Joined Aug 7, 2011
I wouldn't let your parents try to change the way you feel about working in the industry, from a young age I knew I wanted to be a chef and I was always told to do something else. I did really well in school,but dropped out in year 11 to start my apprenticeship because its what I wanted to do, and who I wanted to be.

It's great you want to stand out in classes, because that's what will help prove to yourself and your chefs that you CAN do this.  It's not easy, and you will (no matter how well your doing for your experience) ALWAYS get put down and yelled at, but dont take it to heart. Chefing is one of the most stressful jobs you can work in, plus all the extra hours you pack in, so dont blame them for being in a shit mood.  They wont be angry at you, more angry at the situation if something goes wrong. 

In regards to books, make sure you get a copy of "Larousse", its pretty much a dictionary with recipes and descriptions/uses for almost every culinary term out there. It is a real must if your serious about this career.

If your having a hard time trying to stay positive under stress, try imagining how great your future will be when you can create all sorts of foods, flavour combinations and pursue your dreams. There's no sugar coated way to put this, but it's going to be a hard hard road ahead. You will be over worked, mentally and physically exhausted, it will be hard to have a social life outside of the hospitality industry, and you will probably spend the first few years feeling absolutely shit.. but things WILL get better. How else do we get amazing chefs in this world?

Good luck.
Joined Jan 3, 2005
I say go for it!  I had similar worries - I went to culinary school after quitting a good corporate job, but it is so worth it.  Wherever this leads you, it is good to follow your dreams even if you end up on a different path than you expected.  It is always better than wondering later in life - what if?  And I don't think it really is that hard to distinguish yourself in this career if you have a good work ethic and you are motivated by passion for the subject.  Good luck.
Joined Sep 18, 2008
What would they say if you wanted to pursue a career as a:
  • Singer
  • Actor(ess)
  • Song Witer
  • Artist
  • Sculptor
  • Writer
  • Professional athlete
  • Musician
  • Magician
  • Plumber
  • Electrician
  • Mechanic
  • Gambler
  • Priest, Rabbi, Mullah
  • etc.
Are they "professions"? Not really, but most certainly are "callings"!
Joined May 15, 2010
You'll stand out if your style and excecution are superior to other classmates. And remember too, there may be no restaurants to wealcome you in after you graduate. You definentally need to push yourself in and hit the ground running. Anything rewarding and enjoyable comes on top of being a capable member of the team in the kitchen.

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