Was culinary school worth it?

Joined Oct 6, 2002
To all the culinary graduates out there, is culinary school worth the time and money? Or would you work in an established kitchen and learn as much as possible?
Joined May 26, 2001
There are circumstances in my case that made going to school an absolute necessity in order to break into the field. But I learned basic, universal information in school that I doubt I could have picked up as fast had I just gone to work:
  • Sanitation
  • Terminology
  • Knife Skills
  • Professional techniques, not just trucs
  • Management -- financial, organizational, human
  • The organization of the professional kitchen
School gave me the groundwork I needed to jump in and move up rapidly.

Yes, if you work in a kitchen, you will learn to do what you need to do IN THAT KITCHEN. But maybe not what you need to know to work in ANY kitchen.

If you are young, I would say DO BOTH: start as soon as possible to get practical experience, but also go to school to learn at least the basics of food science, art, and management. It doesn't have to be CIA. Just a school that opens your mind to the possibilities of food.
Joined Sep 14, 2002
Even though school is hard, (while working full time and NOT being all that young) I think it is so worth it. Learning about sanitation is so important!!! I actually know more about food safety than the people who own and run the place and due to my knowing things, I have helped them to pass inspections, known when their cooler under the sandwhich prep table was not cold enough and saved them ruined food. It has resulted in my being promoted from Sandwich Prep at the cold station to being the person who prepares and bakes their main product--bagels.

I am learning so much, and it is worth the hard work and sacrifice of free time.:chef:
Joined Feb 18, 2010
I worked in the kitchen for nine years. For every Job I had I only learned the current kitchen's menu, was never physically exposed to anything else (yea read books but)

When it came to getting an upper level position, those years in the kitchen didnt mean squawt, they would hire somone with a few years backed with ANY course in culinary. Even some from a local JC.

If you are already a cook, it is just a small investment of time and money to breeze through it....for most part, it IS a resume booster, And it will improve your income demand.

Ive read through some f the anti schooling post...and alot say "just get a job and learn hands on" It would take you YEARS, and many different places to learn what ya could in a year at a school.

Schools dont cost as much as people gripe about. You dont need a top end school on your resume anyway to gain a sweet job as a ex Chef position, just some years to back up what ya diploma
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