The One Degree that Matters!...Excuse me while I dive for Cover.

Joined Feb 6, 2002
Just read your posts, Koko and Suzanne,

I agree with both of you. Im teaching my kids about life and learning now to give them a starting point. Learning starts in the home. It seems most people are too busy to care and each wants someone else to blame or solve the problem for them.

I plan to be active in my children's lives and if I see they are not getting anywhere, having problems, or getting bored or stagnant...I will find some way to motivate them. Even if it means placing them in a different kind of school where they CAN learn.

My parents always played a role in my education. Whether it was enrolling me in an after school program that they knew I would like and broaden my horizons. If no one cares the kids don't care. That was basically the census in high school. None of the kids thought anyone cared so they said "why should we?"
Joined Dec 1, 2001
I'm a little nervous about putting forth my thoughts. But here goes...
I am not defending anybody, and I do think that people should be rewarded for experience. However, (to use a poor example) look at lawyers, they need to pass the bar to practice law in whatever state. Certifications are basically
I am still an undergraduate. So how could I know anything about a career, right? But there is something I do know about school. Having a degree is not just a credential that is going to help me on a resume. I believe my time in school is being extremely well spent. I think that when a person is educated in a broad and liberal sense, that person will have an advantage over other people who have not. And not just with a degree on their resume. Why? That person will have the ability to think in a much larger capacity than someone else. I also think that someone who has been formally educated will have more options open to them in the future.
Then, after school is where people learn their trade. You learn the skills for your job on the job. I have yet to meet someone who has said that they learned how to do their job in school and not at work.

I find it hard to overestimate the value of true education. I think it gives someone an advantage in life in almost all aspects, especially financial. I don't know much about the culinary field, but I do know almost all people in the field don't do it to make a lot of money. However, everyone needs to make a living and no one can deny the fact that the income gap between educated and non-educated people is quite large.

These are my thoughts. I'm only 21, but I don't think I am ever going to look back on my life and say "I regret going to college"

Feel free to attack, I'm willing to defend.
Joined Feb 6, 2002
No attack here Crane :D Your opinion is sound to me.

There is a big advantage to having a degree in this day and age. And no one is gonna knock you for knowing what you want and using the means to get it.


As I said somewhere at the beginning of this post. I do plan on getting a degree to coincide with my experience. I worked first and learned what I would need to advance job wise. I tried jumping in once without thinking, (I don't think an English degree would help me in this field don't you?) and am glad I waited.

I am taking courses and getting certifications to enhance my skills and that degree I plan to get in Restaurant Mgmt will mean a lot to me. Id actually like to run my own biz someday. Im also scheduling an accounting class on my goals list.

To everyone in general

Do you believe it is a good idea to jump into spending thousands for school when you are not sure exactly what you want to do and how a certain degree will help advance that future career?

Joined Dec 1, 2001
I wish you good luck ShawtyCat. I applaude you for pursuing your goals. I think that the pursuit of goals is just as important as attaining them, and that failure comes from not even trying.

It seems from a lot of posts that the main peeve people have is simple. If you don't choose to play by the system then a large door is closed to you .
"Is just having a three letter acronym in front of my name going to make me perform at a higher level? No, but if you don't have it, I can't help you"

I agree that this should not be how we gague a person. It's cheap. People are worth more than their title.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Maybe try getting a job at Paul Bocuse, or Alain Ducasse yes? no? Which route are YOU taking young Jedi?

There are tons of nuances and intangibles which can shape the career of a fledgling chef, the most important of these being humility and patience. A good amount of both is required for success, and a lack of either is normally an indication of impending disaster.

Of the hundreds of CMC's here, how many work in restaurants?

Joined Feb 6, 2002
This young Jedi would love to get her little paws inside Thomas Keller's kitchen. Ive read some of the interviews he has given and agree with his philosophy. Plus I heard he's a hands on chef and actually gets down in the trenches with everyone else.

Ive got lots of patience and really do believe that I have lots, lots, lots more to learn. Being able to cook, learn more about cooking and evolve your technique is the greatest thing in the world. Next to the kiddies of course.

I didn't think they were hundreds of CMCs though. I thought it was only 100 or so? I probably said it all wrong but I was refering to a resto that TK was the "esteemed chef" of where they used his name to get people in and then ran the place into the ground. Sounded horrible. I was imagining myself in that kinda place where Ive finally made it to one of the higher levels of cooking where I can showcase my stuff and people are coming for my food. Then BANG, the resto is gone and everyone is saying.....she must not have been much of a chef if they closed in a year! Id be p'od!

Was just poking at the bureaucrats. Guess because in my country its happening too. I have to have a long string of degrees behind my name in order to sit behind a desk and do data entry! And I had been doing that for 10 years!
Joined Mar 3, 2002
Why either or? If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing any way you can. Everyone's temperament, abilities, ambitions, resources differs from others'. Some might prefer the structure of a school with its more or less systematic comprehensive approach to cooking. Others might be more comfortable learning in the hands on situation of a real kitchen

If the latter or if you have the oportunity to get into a great kitchen, if you can't afford school, if you are dislexic, temperamentally averse to it, etc.? Skip it and go straight into the kitchen.

You like the sense of security of a degree behind your name, like the sense of having had a comprehensive grounding in your field, can afford it (or get enough loans, scholarships, etc.)? Then go to school.

Or better yet: go into the kitchen for a couple years. Learn whether that's where you really want to be. Learn how a real world kitchen works. Learn what it is you need to know to achieve the level of your ambitions. Even save a few pennies, maybe. THEN: decide whether to simply continue on your path as it is because YOU have been fortunate enough to land in a good place and are learning what you need to know to ground you for your career path. Or make an informed decision based on your personal knowledge and needs that school is the place for you. Or some may even decide that the professional cooking is not for them.

There's more than one way to dice an onion. :)
Joined Jun 3, 2002
Wow, quite the thread. I could heat my home using this.

My thought on the matter is that
knowledge = education + experience.

The education is what you get from either school or apprenticeships or just paying attention to what's going on around you. A degree is simply one way of quantifying that education. However, all it means is that the student was good at passing tests, not that they can actually do it.

The experience is putting that education into practice. You can have all the education in the world, but if you haven't actually done it then you don't know squat. That's probably why culinary schools all seem to incorporate a "hands on" sessions, apprenticeship, externship, internship, whatever. However, experience is variable. Does the person have 10 years experience, or just one years experience repeated 10 times. Hard to judge without trusted references, hence the need for someone going the experience route to work with respected chefs whose opinions are trusted by others.

I note that it's only in the USA that you can get a "bachelors degree" in culinary arts. It also seems to be only US institutions who "require" a bachelors degree for jobs. Protectionism? Probably. The US schools are the most expensive in the world, (see for details that I've found. Corrections welcome.), so I guess they have to market their graduates to the hilt, and that includes convincing the people who hire that a degree is actually worth something. While it's definitely true in the engineering and medical fields (both of which, you'll note, have "practical experience" requirements before you can be certified in those fields) I'm still trying to figure out if ths is really the case in the culinary world.

In France you start with a two year basic college course (C.A.P.)then go learn on-the-job in a structured apprenticeship program. Then you might go back to school to do more advanced work, eventually formalising all the business and management you've learned on-the-job so that you can operate your own kitchen. As I've found the generic French mid-range restaurant generally have much better food than the generic American mid-range restaurant, it's a system that seems to work. It's very hard to move up "quickly" though, hence the influx of european trained chefs out of Europe.

I see it as a question of attitude towards food. The worst food I've had, regardless of location, is from places that think that food is just to feed the body. In the best restaurants I've been to the attitude is that food feeds the soul.

Just my two pence worth.
Joined Feb 6, 2002
I had originally thought I had done a bad thing by posting this thread. :blush: I wanted everyone to actually think about the Education vs. Experience question so that the culinary students visiting the forum could benefit from the discussion.

From all the educated, informative posts that have been given here, I think Ive accomplished that. :) Previous posts just touched the issue but nothing delved deep enough to actually get to the heart of the matter. So it left you feeling as though you missed something. I hope a few people can get the answers they want from reading ALL of the posts here.

Thank you to all the wonderfull people at ChefTalk.


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