Graduate. A Bachelors degree is sooooooooooo not useless. You may never use what you learn in classes, but in this country it makes a huge difference in social class. It makes working as a chef a career-choice based on love rather than a job based on necessity.
6 months ago I might well have told you to declare independence, get a job and work your way through culinary school. You can always get a degree later. In fact, in some ways it's easier -- if you can afford it. Cutting the strings, growing up, all that stuff... It's really the next, most important part of your life.
Sometimes though being grown up means being honest about the opportunities offered. Look around you. Look at what the economy is like. This isn't something that's going to go away in the next few months. I wouldn't count on a lot of good restaurant jobs being available for a few years. In fact, the industry will likely be one of the first and most severely injured casualties of the poor economy. If you can spend another couple of years sheltered from the job market, you're probably better off taking them now and postponing trade school until after you've got your degree. In a couple of years the recession caused by mismanagement of the real-estate, financial and oil sectors should shake itself out. Eventually, we should be back on the road to recovery. Don't kid yourself. It's going to take most of that time. At least. The up-scale restaurant business is not the place to point yourself right now. It will be again, and until then food won't go away.
Also, it seems likely that as a response to the economy a Democratic administration will reform the old system and create a new system of student loans making trade education relatively affordable. Let mom pay for your BA now. It's what she wants. You and Uncle Sammy can pay for chef school later if that's what you want.
This time Mom is right.