or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Culinary Students › General Culinary School Discussions › Culinary school for career advancement?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Culinary school for career advancement?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I have read statistics about average pay of chefs who have no degrees, associates, and bachelor's degrees. The statistics would say that the more school you have, the more money you will make on average.
It seems that the overwhelming opinion of experienced chefs on this site would be that schooling and your career in general is all about how much you put into it. As an young cook and aspiring chef, I want to put myself in the position to be as successful as possible (not just a measure of salary) later in life. I am eager to learn as much as possible and not only understand that I will have to spend a lot of time being a grunt in the kitchen, but see the value in it and enjoy it.

I am curious if people think that a bachelor's degree from a prestigious culinary school would make a large difference in the ability to reach upper level positions later in life?

I am very aware that graduates of the best programs still have to work up the chain in the kitchen just like the rest, but will schooling enable you to climb higher?

Thanks, I appreciate your opinions.
post #2 of 7
No, No and No!..... only if you are interested in bragging rights which lasts about three seconds. Technique is all there really is to be learned.............. and if you have it, you have it......and if you don't, well........:roll: :roll: :crazy:
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Morffin: So what you're really saying is.....

Seriously though, thanks for your viewpoint.

In looking at CIA's and JWU's curriculum for culinary arts bachelor's degrees, it seems that a large portion of the classes they offer are geared towards management of a restaurant. I can see how these institutions would make it seem that these classes coupled with the skills based classes taught by their very qualified teachers would give you a big advantage in career development.

I am still dumbfounded by the contrasting viewpoints that I receive when doing research and talking to industry professionals. My boss for example has employed graduates from prestigious culinary school who he deemed worthless as employees.

I am at a point in life that I can handle some more school and really enjoy learning (I am 23 with some traditional college and good work experience under my belt). I am not sure that I would be into going to school again later in life if I decided I needed that to further myself in this profession.

I would eventually like to be an executive chef and perhaps owner of a restaurant and want to make sure that I have the proper tools to achieve these goals.

I'm just wondering if I can pick the necessary skills up along the way through work experience alone, or will going through a culinary school be valuable enough to warrant the $$$.

It sounds like your answer is an emphatic no! :lol:

Thanks again.
post #4 of 7
The more management/business skills you have, the higher you can go without having to rely on other people 100% for their knowledge. If you want to own your own place eventually, you really should know accounting, purchasing, plumbing (no, I am NOT kidding), P&L, languages, etc. etc. Even if you don't have to do it all yourself, you want to know enough so that you won't be "taken" by someone else you thought you could trust.

The cooking skills you can be learn on the job can take you a long way; but it's much harder to learn the business skills you'll need as you move up that way. This is not to say that you MUST get a degree. But if you really do want to move up, do take some courses in the business aspects.

Finally: if you're looking at all this with an eye toward pay and money, you're looking at the wrong thing. Sure we all want to make a good living, but to me, that has nothing to do with being successful.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #5 of 7
no problemo. Look, I myself have a piece of paper from CIA. In the last class of school, a restaurant situation as many of us know, the instructer made us sit at a huge round table ( 23 of us? I don't remember:roll: ) and explain our future plans. Every single one of the soon to be graduates went into their spheel about how they were going to open their own places, get big *** chef jobs and bla bla bla. I went last because as " group leader" it just was where I was where I usually was seated. I simply just said I was going to NYC, getting a job in the best restaurant I could get in. Anything French with a longstanding rep in my tiny inexperienced mind would be the first step. And I didn't care what the position was, potwasher was fine. Completely true story. ( I just pulled the list out of Gourmet magazine and started making phone calls because I was basically clueless, but have a tendency to rely on instinct)

I got lucky, I worked my *** off, made friends, and worked my *** off. Polished my technique. Worked my *** off. Never complained, never dissed a chef I was working under with my coworkers. Read. Stayed humble. Was always the rock in any kitchen for a variety of reasons. Still am. And the business end of it is completely do-able as long as you are focused and alert. Some professional classes are interesting though for faster advancement.

In this day of age, there's a lot of venues for you to gain the same education w/o spending the 50K or whatever it is these days. Get a good job with a master on deck you respect. Keep your money in the bank. If you are not born to walk the walk, it simply won't happen.
post #6 of 7
For salaries, let's examine a little nugget of information here. Painfully simple but true:
People who work with other people earn more than people who don't work with people. Doctors, lawyers, sales reps, insurance and real estate agents all fit into this discription.
Depending on the Hotel or restaurant, the F & B will earn more than the Chef simply as a result of dealing with/suprvising more people than the Chef will. Experience will also play a major role. A Chef with 20 years under his belt in good houses will command a better salary than a fresh graduate with vim, vigour, energy, and excellent grades and teacher's testmonials. A Chef with excellent people skills, but only fair cooking skills will advance further and faster than a Chef with poor people skills but excellent cooking skills.

Mind you, these are only my observations made in the last 20 odd years, don't take me for my word, find out for yourself.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #7 of 7
true, so very true, but I don't think any 23 year old kid can anticipate where his/her future will lead. NEVER. Actually the #1 aspect of this business is the complete twist of fate. We thrive on it. One must learn where we learn, go where we go, do who we are, live as we go, but build on experience. This is the most fascinating business venue available, aside porn star, to be free and dictate one's own agenda, completely on one's own terms.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Culinary Students › General Culinary School Discussions › Culinary school for career advancement?