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Is culinary school worth it?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I'm looking at going to culinary school, but not sure if I should take culinary courses at the public college I go to right now {which has a really good program} or one of the "professional" ones such as french culinary, CIA, etc. I've been working in a restaurant kitchen for over 2.5 years, and have worked my way up from dishboy to a cook {been a cook for about 2 months}.

My question is, is going to schools such as french culinary, CIA, etc worth the money that you pay to go there?

If I decide to go to culinary school it'll be in about 1.5 years, after i'm done getting my AA degree. I turned 18 about a month ago as well.
post #2 of 13

Yeah, no, don't bother keep doin what your doin...

Do not attend culinary school! It is unnecessary and expensive! Get work in the field even if you start out as a dishwasher. If your goal is to become a chef then as long as you are in the kitchen then you’re on the right track. Teach yourself how to cook and learn about the classic methods. Use your kitchen and your local library to obtain the appropriate reading material to learn the history and practice of the culinary arts. Then when you have built up enough confidence and skill in your method find out where to get certified through the American Chef Federation. It will cost you money but not nearly as much as culinary school will. Some culinary schools will give you a CC Certified Culinarian certificate at a price tag ranging from 30k to 40k you could get several dozen through ACF with that kind of money. Seriously I can’t stress this enough. YOU DO NOT NEED TO GO TO CULINARY SCHOOL!!! IT IS A HUGE WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY. Take that 30k and put it towards a down payment on a house. It’s a much wiser investment.
post #3 of 13
Ok now I really resent that they are tagging key words in my rant with advertisements for culinary schools. Pretty shameless I must say.
post #4 of 13
Relax there PU. I agree that you do not have to spend $30,000 on culinary school, but many local community colleges offer excellent programs for about $6,000. In my experience, culinary school is very valuable. It teaches you the fundamentals of cooking, and gives you exposure to preparation techniques that you might never see in the restaurant you are in. There are also a lot of employers that require culinary school training for the higher management jobs. Look into local schools and talk to the faculty and students. Call some local chefs and ask them their opinion. I think you will find that a lot of people consider it important, though not absolutely necessary.
It's Good To Be The King!
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It's Good To Be The King!
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post #5 of 13

no offense intended...

I agree with Montelago. The culinary school gave me the basic skills that I need for my new career. For my personal goal, learning at school is faster than learning in the kitchen. It would take me atleast 3 yrs if I didn't taking the class. For me, I'd say it's worth.
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post #6 of 13
For me i have worked in a kitchen working pretty much full time all through high school. To me culinary school was almost like a break. Yeah it was alot of work but it wasnt as bad as working 40 + hours and going to high school. If you dont know if culinary school is worth it check out acf apprentices. Alot of them will send you to a comunity college to get some schooling for free plus on the job training. Its a win win situation.
post #7 of 13
There is one caveat about learning at the workplace: You have no guarantee that what you are being shown is the correct way of dong it. A culinary school will show you the correct way of doing things as well as expose you to virually every facet of the trade--very few workplaces can do this.

In regards to the culinary school itself...Don't get fooled by the big names and don't get suckered in by the astronomical tuition fees. Remember this: Cooking in N.America is not a recognised as a trade. There are no benchmarks or standards to adhere to. Every school has a different curriculum, a different view of what a Chef should be. For biggest bang of your buck I strongly suggest you to consider the community college.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #8 of 13

Timely article

Published today, this interesting article sums up pretty much everything I've ever heard about Western Culinary Institute, which is the Le Cordon Bleu school in Portland, Oregon. A very in-depth article about specific complaints from former students.

wweek.com/editorial/3405/10113
You will have to cut and paste this, as this site won't allow me to post links, for some reason.

I am a CC student, and in contrast, my tuition for the entire year's program is $3,000. Student/teacher ratio is at worst, 5:1 and often 2:1. I feel very pleased with the education and training I am receiving... by my calculation I am paying only about $4 per instructional hour and all of it is hands-on work.
post #9 of 13

what get a proper education?

I agree with Chef Montelago and the others. I will tell you that after one semester you will understand more about food than almost anyone you meet. To suggest to anyone that a proper education is worthless is absolutely foolish. I went back to college at 47 and have do not regret one minute of it. Whatever you want to succeed at in this life you have to understand just what the heck its all about.
post #10 of 13

Hi All

 

 I believe obtaining a Culinary Education is worth it. This is really based on my Colunary Role Models such as  Chef Julia Childs, Chef Gordan Ramsey and Chef Graham Elliot. All three of them attended a Culinary school before becoming Famous Chefs world wide. If  I want to follow into their footsteps I must do as they did and at least learn the basics in the Art of cooking. It only make Sense.

post #11 of 13

When evaluating the worth of culinary training, it is not what you will learn, it is how much it will cost you to learn!

 

A very rough guideline for payback of a student loan over ten years is $100/month for every $10,000 borrowed or about $0.57/hour (based on a 40 hour workweek, after tax). When you figure in FICA, MediCare, and other withholdings, the $0.57/hour net becomes something on the order of $0.70-$0.75 per hour.

 

In other words, if your student loan is $X, the pay differential necessary to pay for your student loan is:

  • $5,000, $0.30-$0.35/hour
  • $10,000, $0.60-$0.70/hour
  • $20,000, $1.20-$1.40/hour
  • $30,000, $1.80-$2.10/hour
  • $40,000, $2.40-$2.80/hour

based on a 40 hour workweek, no vacation, no time off. Pay differential meaning you get paid that much more than someone who did not go to culinary school for the same job.

 

To illustrate: If a prep cook job is available at, say, $10/hour and you graduate with a $20,000 student loan, you will effectively be working for $8.60-$8.80 per hour

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #12 of 13

School is a wise choice for many. Education is an expense just like many other things in life and you will have to pay for it. Do your part and school is one of the best moves many will ever make. The caveat in this field is that so many simply fail to stay in the industry long enough to justify the expense. Perhaps he best thing any one could take from a thread like this is the realization that there is simply no one size fits all response. For some school is a complete waste of $$.  IMO those are frequently the same folks that will be working as line cooks in their 50's and screaming on a forum about what a waste of $$ an education is while others with plenty of natural talent will excel with out ever taking a class. However, cooking savants are few and far between. For many CC is the best value while others that pick up a BA from one of the big name schools will earn more than CC grads and pay the difference in tuition cost with ease.

No one has to go to school to be a Chef, No one has to get a BA from one of the larger schools. Every one that aspires to be a Chef has to make a choice about what path is best for them. Keep it real when making this choice. Not every ones financial situation is the same and many of the responses in these threads assume students will be in deep debt. Every year I speak to parents that will send their kidlet to school with a new car, plenty of spending money and a check for tuition PIF. Every year I speak to potential students that are fighting just to pay rent and keep food on the table. Where each student fits in or between those scenarios should play at least some factor in selecting the best path for them.

Never under estimate the value of an education and remember with out one there are many other potential Chefs that you will be competing against with an education that will have a vested interest in holding you back while others that will appreciate your poor decisions as they pay you on a lower wage scale. One simple truth no one likes to talk about and that's HR loves a degree. If you can't get past HR in many cases you simply can't get the job. Since some one mentioned the ACF it's also worth noting that with out any education getting certified is far more difficult as the ACF gives a lot of points for education. There's a reason for that.

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could.....

 

Dave

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #13 of 13

I'm going to say that a big part of the equation is location. If you live in a larger city / area then I think culinary school is more beneficial. If you live in a smaller city / area then.. I'm not so convinced it's worth it, monetarily speaking.

 

The knowledge you will learn and be able to apply, the skill sets you will learn, and your understanding of ingredients after graduating culinary school will be amazing, but the big question is going to be, is it worth the money you paid.

 

You say you work in a restaurant, have you talked to your head chef, the owners, other line cooks? What did they say? Did any of them go to school? What about other chefs in your area, did they attend school?

 

The best information you could ever ask for.. is what you should be asking people in your area. I talked to to the chefs in my area and for me personally.. it wasn't worth it. The only culinary school within about 300 miles is a private college with less than stellar reviews, and it's yearly tuition was about $30,000. If there was a community college option close enough, I would probably have went to that without hesitation but.. that option wasn't available to me. 

 

There is no doubt that you will learn amazing amazing things at culinary school, but will that knowledge set you back financially for the next 15 years? Sadly man, it all comes down to the mulah

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