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New member needing culinary school advice

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I was wondering if anyone could give me advise or suggestions.
Is it unwise to bypass a college degree and go straight to culinary school?
I am looking into the FCI, and I think they only offer a certificate...with no college diploma and only a certificate, will my opportunities be limited despite my passion for my career choice?
Any input is appreciated!!!!
post #2 of 12
Yeah FCI does only offer a certificate not a degree. If you have the oppertunity I would say go get your degree but that may mean more time not working, earning money, more time spending money on tuition, and waiting longer to actualy get your degree, because FCI is what 8 or something months?

What do you want to do later on down the road? That also should affect your decision........
"Some of us Cook. Some of us Grow. All of us Eat."
"Some of us Cook. Some of us Grow. All of us Eat."
post #3 of 12
There are colleges out there that offer associate degrees in culinary rather than just a certificate. So theoretically you could go to culinary school AND get a degree. It all depends on what you would like to do. If it is becoming a chef I would recommend getting an associates degree in culinary art, and then if you wish to open a restaurant some day or become an executive chef I would try to acquire a bachelor in business over time. These are just my opinions mind you, I am a young student like you, so I have no experience to back up my advice.
post #4 of 12
I'm doing a certificate program and i see no shame in it. I've been working in the food field (starting in pizza and management) for 6 years now. Now I'm a cook at a chain restaurant. And from this experience I'm building new ties and connections to people who have worked at various places always willing to give me advice and help. I'm going to build on this with hopefully working for a hotel chain somewhere...keep building ...bigger and better and I go along. Maybe someday at my own pace get a business degree but I'm not in any rush.
so it depends on what you want..ultimately I think experience and connections are much more valuable than an actual culinary degree..they are expensive and us cooks don't live a glamorous life.
post #5 of 12
I did a certificate program and while a degree is nice and stuff. All the real knowledge comes from expeiernce.

I would have to say the sooner you get out there the better.
post #6 of 12
It depends on what you are hoping to get from your education. Are you just wanting to get your foot in the door or are you hoping to land a top position or are you hoping to open your own resteraunt? If you want to run your own resteraunt having a good working knowledge of business and accounting is going to help you. When it comes to what position you can get in a kitchen, experience is more important than education although having some education can help you get your foot in the door. If its a matter of wanting to have degrees for your own personal satisfaction then that is something else altogether.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you all so much for your replies!
Everyone's input really helps me out, this decision is stressing me out!
I really just would love to work as a pastry chef anywhere. Perhaps later on, opening my own bakery would be an option...but I have taken business classes in the past and absolutely hated it. So, is it completely impossible to own a shop without that business degree? would it be okay to go to culinary school, work as a pastry chef, and then eventually and at my own pace get a business degree to open a bakery? I just dont want to limit my options by only doing culinary school.
I know that really it is my own decision, but its too hard! I really just want to get to culinary school and do what I love.
Thanks again
post #8 of 12
i say look into going about doing it the way i am. Do the certificate..or diploma program. Learn as much as you can...work at all the different restaurants you can. Then at your own pace pursue a an associates or bachelors in business online. Don't stress yourself out over it. It's not worth it. These are long term goals and no easy feat...You like to cook right? (btw so do i..lol)
so just cook...You won't be a millionaire but w/ experience you should def be able to make a living. If you're good and a hard worker (which I'm sure you will be) then you'll get the wages and experience you desire and deserve.

I'm doing the certificate myself, b/c I can't afford a degree program. I moved out at 17 and have been on my own financially ever since...plus i have a huge car loan (due to a series of unfortunate circumstances)
where there's a will there's a way.

just remember, one day at a time...rome wasn't built in a day...and neither was alton brown, gordan ramsey or wolfgang puck...they were all somebodies students or apprentice at some point.

best wishes and good luck!
post #9 of 12
There are a blue bazillion people world wide that own and operate successful businesses without any formal education in business. Travel around the world and you will find people in the poorest of countries or very removed from modern societies that conduct businesses sucessfully. There is no reason you can't do the same. The caveat though is that you must understand some basic business principles and understand some form of bookkeeping. One basic principle you must understand is making a profit; and bookkeeping, in general, helps you with that. All of this can be learned through reading some books and through experience.

Most AOS and BS degrees in cooking will cover the basic business concepts related to food service. Not sure if the certificate programs do or not so that would be a question you should ask of the program you plan to attend. If they don't, its still not a big deal as you can learn it on your own.
post #10 of 12
I don't think you need an actual business degree. Many cities have small business centers that offer workshops on the basics. This would give you enough knowledge to balance your books etc. Many small businesses hire an accountant for the more complicated stuff like taxes etc. and there are places you can hire to do your payroll if you find that difficult too. I know just as many successful business owners with a business degree as without.
post #11 of 12
lizabu and jbd are really spot on...
Many, many...many places need managers...the easiest way to get experience...although it won't be as rewarding as having your own place...is to manage somebody else's place. That's what I did, and that's another reason I'm only attending a cooking program...I don't need the business classes as I already have experience managing and can pick up more.
Work for a fast food restaurant or a place like boston market or subway and become a shift runner, then asst and then you can become GM rather quickly as not many people can handle the stress of the job or the responsibility. It's very hard and demanding work but it will teach you numerous things about the industry and about business and management.

You can seriously advance through all those positions within 6 months to a year depending on how hard you work and what you put into it. You may also find out that managing is not for you and you wish to just cook or be assistant manager somewhere.

once again..good luck.
post #12 of 12
FCI has changed so much, since my day.

I recently ate at L'ecole (the restaurant at FCI). Back in the day, the food was prepared by the students, and the front of the house service was conducted, by the students. I engaged in a conversation with the waiter (thinking he was a student) and he told me that most of the restaurants operations are by professionals. No more hands-on training. Very sad.
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