Choosing a Culinary School
There are some very good schools in Chicago, for sure. But I advise not going far into debt with culinary schools (unless you have the money or means to get out quickly). There are hundreds of culinary schools at the community college level. Go to www.acfchefs.org
to get a complete list of nationally accredited schools around the U.S. Some community colleges are tuition-free for residents of the State they are located in. Some people move to other States, get a job and live there for 12 months (to become residents), then go to school (tuition-free). There are registrations fees (at my school $39 per term / three terms per year), textbooks, chefs uniforms, chefs tools, etc, to purchase, but one can get a complete education for under $2,000 (not including room and board). Upon graduation with an AAS Degree from an ACF accredited school, if one is a Jr member of The American Culinary Federation, one can get certified as a Culinarian (CC = Certified Culinarian) as well for free.
Also...think about this - most people assume you get what you pay for. We've all grown up this way. We know a $35,000 car is going to be a nice car, and we know a $500 car is not going to be very nice. BUT !...
Water boils at 212 degrees f, at sea level. Will they teach that at a $40,000 school? Yes they will. Will they teach that at a tuition-free community college? Yes they will. A salmon is a salmon the world around. It is 'exactly' the same fish no matter where you go to school. If you pay countless thousands of dollars to go to school at Cordon Bleu in Paris, an instructor speaking French will teach you how to know if the fish is fresh, how to fillet it, cut traunchs from it, cut steaks from it, remove pin bones from it, and tell you which cooking methods would be best suited for cooking a salmon. If you go to a $60,000 school in New York, or a $30,000 school in Arizona, they will teach you the exact same thing. You could learn the exact same thing from a community college for nothing but the cost of registration, uniforms, books, tools, etc. You could buy a book, read it, then buy a salmon and do it at home. You could also do something I think would be smart; you could skip school (at least initially), and get a job at a busy, high quality, seafood restaurant, and have them pay you while you learn how to fillet a salmon. You might look into apprenticeship programs too. Get paid while you learn. If after working in the industry for one year at a busy place, you still are excited and enthusiastic about becoming a Chef, then consider going to school. School is great (and can be quite a difficult challenge), but it is not the same as work. The industry is tough, and you have to be tough to survive it. Long hours, day/nights/weekends/holiday (all away from your family), and when you are home, you often are too tired to do anything and just want to sleep. Invest in a very good pair of shoes because you tend to stand 12 hours / day. Hot kitchens, razor sharp knives, scalding hot liquids, power equipment, working against the clock, getting along with everyone (having great people skills), and being punctual (having great time management skills). *[You might enjoy reading, Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bordain]
Feel free to check out our web site/s at:www.tvi.eduhttp://planet.tvi.edu/michaelhttp://planet.tvi.edu/cmorosinhttp://planet.tvi.edu/crussohttp://planet.tvi.edu/kcoleman
Chef Carmine J. Russo, CCC, CCE
TVI Culinary Arts
PS: The Art Institute in Chicago is a very good school, if you have the money or are willing to do into debt. I took a class there about a year ago at the FENI Annual Conference for Culinary Educators.