Some important things to know when entering this industry at entry level positions. Knife skills, this is a biggie, if it takes you four hours to dice 5# of carrots you might as well become a basket weaver so I suggest you invest in some good steel and practice.
Safety and sanitation is another big one. Some of this stuff may seem like common sense, but how will you know the rules and theories without having an underlying foundation of knowledge. That's exactly what culinary school does for me, it gives me an underlying foundation of knowledge that is essential in working in a professional kitchen. You can also take a food handler's course without going through culinary school. It is called the ServSafe exam. Think of it this way, you can't run a food business if you cant even get the doors to open because you don't comply with health law regulations. Little stuff you should know such as holding temps, use of three compartment sinks, what to have at a hand washing station etc.....
One thing about cooking that you must understand is that it's not as complicated as you think. Put it this way. Understand that ingredients are not absolute and will change from recipe to recipe, but one thing that remains the same are techniques. Cooking is all about technique. Ingredients change but technique is always the same. Technique, cooking methods whatever you want to call them.
Now when you finally make it pass the ranks from prep to line cook to sous chef or any supervisory position you must understand the business aspect of running a professional kitchen.
I'm not a chef, I'm just simply a line cook that is still attending school (only been working in this industry for a little under a year), but from what I know and what I've observed being a chef is not just about knowing how to cook.
You must be creative, articulate, have great attention to detail, and know how to create delicious and beautiful food off the top of your head. You must know how to hire and fire, how to train people and how to train the trainer to train the trainees.
You must be creative in a sense because as the Chef you will create menus based on what you know and what type of establishment you are working for. You will make sure your kitchen staff is like a well oiled machine. You will be responsible for all food coming in and going out of your kitchen, not to mention janitorial supplies, equipment, training the dishwasher, handling labor cost.
Most importantly, I think is that you must know how to gain the respect of others. Best way I feel to do this is lead by example, be agressive yet gentle, and know what you are doing and why. Be knowledgeable, be fast mentally and physically but always stay one step ahead. Now gaining respect from others is all about people skills. Well I can go on and on about what I feel about things you should know before considering this line of work but it's better done than said. Gotta go to work now.
One last thing. If you are doubting yourself about having a passion for creating beautiful and delicious food.You probably don't.
I have a new quote.
"I assist in the feeding of 150-300 people daily. What do you do?"