No, I'm not a professional chef...I've never even worked in a restaurant. Cooking has just been a very serious, very passionate hobby of mine for a number of years now. Recently I looked into maybe taking the plunge, going to academy, getting into the industry...but I'm having a hard time reconciling the expense vs. reward of it all. There's a great culinary academy just down the road from me (almost literally)...but 10 grand for a 1 year certificate and close to 40 for a degree? And that's just tuition, not even the peripherals to buy (the uniforms, apparently my ceramic knives aren't permitted at this academy so I'd have to get a new set of metal/carbon ones, etc.) Does a career in cooking (keep in mind I'm not talking about owning a restaurant or becoming some sort of great executive chef; I assume that's a pretty rare thing) really pay well enough to justify that? I've got a buddy who's a line chef at a steakhouse....he doesn't even clear 35 grand a year, and he's been at it a while. It seems like an awful lot of money for a position at the other end that doesn't really level out the expense. Is his salary just abnomally low or do I really have the numbers right in my head? And if so...how did you guys even pay for it? My fiancee just started up back in school for her business management degree and they only gave her like 5 grand between the Pell Grant and the 2 Stafford loans--the rest came out of our pockets (though she at least has tuition reimbursement at work)...I assume most don't just have the difference laying around.