thanks for the reality

Discussion in 'General Culinary School Discussions' started by dunk, Apr 5, 2002.

  1. dunk

    dunk

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    I just wanted to write to say how much I appreciate the honesty/reality that everyone gives us "aspriring" chefs.

    I was just talking to a friend of a friend who just finished culinary school and is now doing his apprenticeship (at a GREAT place, I might add!) -- AND he hates it!! The reason he hates it, and I quote "The chef works me like a dog --- I'm not her personal slave. One day all I did was make gallons and gallons of salad dressing."

    When he started saying this, all I could do was smile -- he had no idea what he was getting himself into when he started school. He didn't realize the hours he would be putting in; he thought he would get a great line position or chef position after he graduated.

    I just wanted to thank everyone on this site who shares their honest opinions and the realities of working in the kitchen and that it is not all glory and games. Reading the posts here have definitely opened my eyes to many things I was unaware off and have made me feel more prepared for what I am getting myself into.

    Anyways, to make a long story short, I hope everyone who is thinking of going to culinary school reads the posts and really listens to them because it will save a lot of heartache (and money!!) if they don't like what they are reading.

    thanks again

    Dunk
     
  2. suzanne

    suzanne

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    Dunk -- thanks for the "validation" of what we say here. When I started culinary school in 1995, at, well, more than 40, I had never done more than cook at home and do a couple of very small catering jobs. If I had had anyone to ask, I'm sure they would have told me "Don't do it!" But I did, and I learned that there was not that much difference between working in a professional kitchen and doing some of the other jobs I'd had: the same long, long hours (often by my own choice), the same stress (try managing tickets for a sold-out concert), similar craziness overall. Quite a few of my (much younger) classmates just couldn't hack it and never made it to graduation.

    The difference for me was that I had a lot of experience in a lot of different industries. Many of today's potential culinary students just don't have the life experience. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that -- but combined with the tendency to believe what is shown on TV, it can mean they might spend a lot of money for something they won't be able to handle. So when we point out all the negatives of working in the industry, it's not meant to discourage the valiant who have that "fire in the belly" (and you thought it was just heatburn!;) ) If you know the bad as well as the good, you can make a better decision. It's great to hear back from someone going in with a clearer vision because we've helped.

    BTW: did you and your friends make it down here to NYC yet? How was your visit if you were here already? I hope you had/have a great time! (New York, my home sweet home!)
     
  3. jim berman

    jim berman

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    I still say that everybody should spend 3 months ins a restaurant as a prerequisite prior to entering school. It would help determine if it is really something you really want to do (or not!)
     
  4. nick.shu

    nick.shu

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    Well said jim! I must admit that i followed that concept (to an extreme). I actually trialled commercial cookery for a year before committing myself.

    So, after that year, i was certain that i could handle 4 yr apprenticeship and training.

    Have also gone on to other things and at this stage, have spent approx 6 yrs at college learning the ropes (hehe, to the point of approaching 1/500 in training level)

    Like suzanne im also a fairly new babe in the woods, starting school in 96 and finishing in 98 (at that level). Given that in Aus it is a lot cheaper for schooling that helps a lot, but at a certain age, a lot of factors come in. I.e:

    Age and willingness to change
    Mortgages etc
    family
    ability to handle stress
    strange working hours

    and a lot of other things. However, if you truly love what you do, well then.
     
  5. chiffonade

    chiffonade

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    Originally posted by Dunk
    "The chef works me like a dog --- I'm not her personal slave. One day all I did was make gallons and gallons of salad dressing."

    I beg to differ...as an apprentice, your friend most certainly is the personal slave of the chef.


    He didn't realize the hours he would be putting in; he thought he would get a great line position or chef position after he graduated.

    The hours are a reality no matter where on the culinary totem pole you happen to be hammered. As for the "great position," those have to be earned. This is what I hate about school, any kind of school. BA holders think their time in school warrants the aisles of Wall Street to part upon their arrival because they sat in a building and held a pencil. Students are in a sterile classroom environment and the only pressure you experience is your own desire to excel and beat your personal best. This is not the same as performing in a bustling kitchen for a dining room full of paying patrons whose stomachs are growling and who are expecting complete and total satisfaction provided by you. School is a f-o-u-n-d-a-t-i-o-n, say it with me: foundation. School gives a person the tools but the practical use of those tools dictates whether the money spent on school would have been better spent on a new lawn mower.


    I just wanted to thank everyone on this site who shares their honest opinions and the realities of working in the kitchen and that it is not all glory and games.

    You are welcome. However (and here's a proverbial wrench to throw into your world), most of us would have it no other way. I can't tell you the joy it brings me to watch someone savor something I've created (with ingredients provided by God). One memorable moment was when a bride placed a forkful of my cheesecake into her mouth, slowly closed her eyes and smiled like Mona Lisa. To this day, her husband is the only person I know who can consume an entire meal, then eat 2 pieces of my cheesecake - and this is not a fat man!! I did their wedding cheesecake in 2000 - six cakes, six flavors and I had to set the whole thing up at a campsite. (Real granolas.)

    I consider my abilities in the kitchen, with knife and spatula, an irreplaceable gift; one for which I am extremely grateful. Yes, I could have been blessed with math skills and wound up a CPA but I've never seen the client of a CPA experience bliss like I have seen in the culinary world. Bliss created of my hand and enjoyed by others. I wouldn't trade it for the world.
     
  6. dunk

    dunk

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    Suzzane -- will be in NYC April 27th. Still not sure where we're going to eat...probably will decide when we get there based on where we are when we're hungry:lips:

    will definitly keep you updated
     
  7. shawtycat

    shawtycat

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    Eat at Virgil's Dunk! That is if you looove babyback ribs and soul food. It's on 44th street and 6 AV? Suzanne, I can't remember the cross street. :blush: I love their food. Im sure that Suzanne knows of other places to eat.

    Jodi
     
  8. suzanne

    suzanne

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    Jodi -- Dunk and I have met "on the side" (actually, on another website) and discussed possible places to eat. But any other suggestions are welcome, I'm sure. Right, Dunk?

    Virgil's is on West 44th between Broadway and Sixth Avenue ("Avenue of the Americas" to some). I've tasted stuff from there, but never actually eaten there. Pretty tasty. And they do all different styles of bbq.