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A Question for the Professionals

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone!

I've been intrigued with the idea of going to a Culinary Arts program for the last year, but I can't seem to find any that will let me go part time. I currently, am employed full time as a therapist and can't go back to school full time for another degree. (I guess I could if I stopped working, but I just can't bear the thought of more student loans right now!)

I live in the Richmond, Va area, and am hoping someone knows of a program that is designed for professionals who want to gain some experience. I would love to open up a catering business in the future, probably not become a professional chef......is there a way to do that? I know that the University of Richmond has a certificate program, but it is not tied in with any national certification or accredidation. I'm just not sure it would provide me with enough education to run my own business.

Thanks so much for all of your help!
“Take what you can from your dreams, make them as real as anything.”
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“Take what you can from your dreams, make them as real as anything.”
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post #2 of 11
Luv- you may be best to look for a private or career school as opposed to a college program. Some culinary schools offer evening classes and there are some programs out there that are catering specific. Unfortunately, I'm in CA- so I couldn't give you specifics- but I'd say try searching. I know we have a school here that has a full-time evening program, and the school I attend has a catering program- so there are some out there...... You want to make sure you get business management training, as you will need that info- vs. just a "culinary" program. Good Luck!
Bon Vive' !
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Bon Vive' !
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post #3 of 11
Many culinary schools have night programs that go slower through the curriculum. Many go for only 5 hours a day as well so it is only 25 hours a week in class....just start checking out culinary schools and you will find a program like that....

Robert
www.chocolateguild.com
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tips! I'll do some searching and let you know what I find! Thanks again!! :)
“Take what you can from your dreams, make them as real as anything.”
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“Take what you can from your dreams, make them as real as anything.”
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post #5 of 11
I would reccomend that, first, you get a job in a professional kitchen at the best restaurant that will take you. Work there for free a few nights/days a week. If you like it, can see yourself doing it for 10-12 (or more) hours a day, 5-6-7 days a week, then go for it. If not, stay in your current job and do other cooking related things in your spare time.

But I think that some real experience would help you make a decision before commiting to even a part time program.
post #6 of 11
Part time is tough for degreee granting culinary schools in PA, due to financial aid issues...
Students must be enrolled in enough credits to be considered "full time" when attending a trade/technical school in order to be awarded the funds...
I know that some community colleges and certificate programs may be more conducive for a non-traditional/change of career type student...
Not sure where any of those are in Virginia, however...
Best of luck...
Andrew Nutter C.C.C., C.C.E., F.M.P.
Chef Instructor
IUP Academy of Culinary Arts
Punxsutawney, PA 15767
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Andrew Nutter C.C.C., C.C.E., F.M.P.
Chef Instructor
IUP Academy of Culinary Arts
Punxsutawney, PA 15767
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post #7 of 11
I have to agree in testing the waters. Maybe take a part time job with a caterer or any type of food service. Experience is just as good as lessons. Not saying that either one is better then the other, but working usually does not have the comittment that school does.
I also think that when you get a taste of this antiquated profession you might fine a very healthy and rewarding career in becoming a Food Service Theropist:lol: We tend to be a breed of people that has no clue what makes us tic.
pan
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
:D now you are talking!! LOL!

Thanks for all the advice! Any thoughts on how to find a part time job in the field with zippo experience?
“Take what you can from your dreams, make them as real as anything.”
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“Take what you can from your dreams, make them as real as anything.”
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post #9 of 11
Luv,
I am soon to be a culinary student, and was lucky enough to find a job working in a kitchen where the chef is willing to teach me a lot. All you have to do is find a place that you respect, and chances are, they'd be looking for staff. It can't hurt to try...;)
Good luck!
andrea
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andrea
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post #10 of 11
What is your favorite local restaurant? Some day, around 4pm, go there and ask to speak with the chef. Tell him/her what you've told us, and ask if they can use an extra pair of hands. Then work out a schedule, and get to it!

Or, since you're interested in catering, contact caterers, etc. Since so many events are evenings and weekends (even though most of the prep is done during the day), it might be easier for you to fit that into your work schedule.

As for your original question: if you want to run your own catering business, you need two kinds of education: 1) culinary; 2) business. The business part is easy to get on a part-time basis. And running a business of any type requires the same basic skill set, so don't worry about not being able to find a program specifically geared to catering. If you have a brain (which of course you do if you're here on ChefTalk :lol: ), you'll be able to see the necessary parallels.

The culinary education is not that difficult to get, either, and frankly, it doesn't matter whether you get it at school or on-the-job, or whether you have some sort of academic credential at the end. People hire you for what you can do. Going to school just helps you figure out how to do it. So if you do decide to go to school, investigate the programs for what they can teach you, not what piece of paper (if any) comes at the end.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thank you all! This is great info and I will keep everyone posted! :smiles:

Thanks again!
“Take what you can from your dreams, make them as real as anything.”
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“Take what you can from your dreams, make them as real as anything.”
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