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Questions about culinary part 2

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
To whom it may concern,

I am starting culinary school soon and I have many questions about how the culinary trade. I have asked questions before on another thread http://www.cheftalk.com/forums/culin...ry-school.html. Here are some more questions I have come up with. If anyone can answer any of the questions I have below I would greatly appreciate it.


1. Which is more important in the culinary trade, experience or degree? Why?

2.a. Did you go to culinary school?
2.b. If yes, was it at a community college or private and which do you recommend?
2.c. If no, do you think it would of helped to go to one?

3. In your view what is the best part of the culinary trade?

4. In your view what is the worst part of the culinary trade?

5. What made you decide to go into culinary?
post #2 of 8
For number one I believe that experience is the most important in any kitchen job. Basically the gist of it is that in culinary school you're going to be going at your pace. Which when learning is rather slow. You also won't do many things twice. However in my case I know that the best peice of advice for a culinary student is that how you practice is how you do. So if you try to do multiple things at once and fast while your in school, the transition to a job is a lot easier.

Yes. I recommend an ACF accredited community college. It's the most realistic. To elaborate, when I first started off the thing I read and heard everywhere is that what you put in is what you get out. This is NOT the case at a culinary school that is private. What you put in is 50 thousand dollars, what you get out is a less than $10 a job for a while if you're not exceptionally gifted and lucky. At a CC though, I put in say 14 thousand max to get the exact same education and I can start making money faster because I owe less.

It varies I would suppose but for me it's knowing that people like what I make for them and it makes them happy. Very very few jobs can directly influence someones day for the positive like a cooks job.

The hours if your lucky. At this time in America it's actually harder to get hours than too many. I only work 30 hours a week compared to the 60+ a lot of cooks/chefs use to.

I want to say it's because I originally loved food and always wanted to be but to tell you the truth. A woman. She wanted me to go to school with her so instead of going to UGA or Emory I enrolled into culinary school. After I got around the initial reason I realized I actually liked it. I know it seems like a stupid reason but looking back on it. Most people want to be lawyers or doctors or nurses now because they make a lot of money. They never once were interested in doing it simply because you can help someone, and while I have cooked before how many people actually get to do there profession before they go to school for it? You can't know if you like being a lawyer or doctor until you get there, same can't be said with cooking.

So if you ever feel discouraged about being a chef later on in life, realize that other people hate there job much more because they never really liked the job, just the money. If you want to be like that as well, not a problem. If you go to a CC you can always transfer and not be broke. A student who goes to a private university is screwed and stuck until they pay those loans back.
post #3 of 8
1. Experience.

You can get a degree from a school, doesn't prove you can cut it in a commercial kitchen.

2.a.
I am going to school right now.

2.b.
It's a CC. Not all schools are created equal. And most of all, the biggest reason a student is successful is the student, not the school. School is not needed, but doesn't hurt. Depends on the type of student.

3. Versatility. Many different career paths can be taken. Work in a restaurant, ships, trains, private clubs, hotels, private chef, personal chef, caterers, create specialty foods and sell online and in stores, etc.

4. Long hours, wear and tear on the body, low pay.

5. I want to learn as much as I can and be the best cook I can be and make people happy with my recipes. I am 31 and I have never been more serious about any other profession.
"To be a good chef all you got to do is lots of little things well" -Marco Pierre

"As far as cuisine is concerned, one must read everything, see everything, hear everything, try everything, observe everything, in order to retain in the end, just a little bit." -Fernand Point
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"To be a good chef all you got to do is lots of little things well" -Marco Pierre

"As far as cuisine is concerned, one must read everything, see everything, hear everything, try everything, observe everything, in order to retain in the end, just a little bit." -Fernand Point
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post #4 of 8
1. Experience. Education is nothing unless you have the know how to back it up.

2.a. Yes, and I'm in it now

2.b. It's a high school vocational program, but I'm going to the Culinary Institute in July. I suggest community though to get a feel for culinary arts and if you like it, then you can either stay in community or move to private.

2.c. I don't know, i'm still in school

3. Cooking, and the satisfactioin of knowing that people are enjoying the food that you cooked.

4. Getting stains on your white uniform. I hate, hate, HATE dirt.

5. I like to cook, and I would have gotten kicked out of school if I didn't go to the program I'm in now.
post #5 of 8
1. Which is more important in the culinary trade, experience or degree? Why?

Experience. In my kitchen we'll hire someone who's washed dishes for years in heartbeat before someone with nothing but culinary school on their resume.

2.a. Did you go to culinary school?

No, although I have been apprenticed to CIA graduates and probably I guess owe that school some debt indirectly.

2.c. If no, do you think it would of helped to go to one?

At this point I need to work and feel like work experience is much more valuable to me. However, I think it would helpful at some point to broaden and supplement my knowledge.

3. In your view what is the best part of the culinary trade?

The way I feel after a 13-hour shift when I know I've done a **** good job.

4. In your view what is the worst part of the culinary trade?

The way my feet feel after that 13-hour shift.

5. What made you decide to go into culinary?

I was a juvenile delinquent and unqualified to do much besides wash dishes. I had a family young and needed to support them. A great chef took me under his wing and I caught a passion for cooking, and I never looked back. The way I look at it, culinary chose me, and it's a good thing I like it :)
post #6 of 8
1. Experience, hands down. More so these days, as culinary schools are churning out a lot of people who will never amount to anything in this field. Not all graduates mind you, but many. School is just another form of experience, experience that should be well rounded and cover the basics. But school doesn't teach you to think on your feet, or what to do when things go wrong. They teach you what to do in best case scenarios, when you have everything you need, when all of your people show up, and all of your equipment works.
I'll take someone with a year of practical experience over someone with only culinary school everytime. I would prefer that experience come from 1, maybe 2 jobs, not 6 jobs over a year. The only real downside to on the job exprerience is that you are only as good as your Chef(s), assuming that you would apply yourself equally as much whether on the job or in school.

2.a. No. I looked into it after being in the field for about 10 years. I wanted to round out my experience. I knew the monetary payoff likely wouldn't be there, but there are some establishments that do look for the piece of paper over practical experience, so that would've been a plus, in those circumstances. Alas, I couldn't afford it anyhow, and have just continued on the original path.

2.b. N/A

2.c. Possibly. There have been a couple of opportunities where if I had a degree I would have stood a better chance of getting the job., but overall it hasn't hurt me.

3. Doing something I love, better than most, that gives my guests great happiness. Nothing is more pleasing than seeing someone get "the big eyes" when their plate is set before them, or watching someone practically shovel the food because they can't wait for the next bite. Everyone has to eat, but I get to ensure that many get to eat well.

4. The sacrifice of family time. Not always, but depending on your position, you can feel married to the job. It's a running joke that in all of the holiday pictures, I am rarely present, and that my wife shows my daughter pictures of me so that she won't think I'm a stranger when I finally do come home.

5. Like xjm, I was a JD. I took a dishwashing job because it was easy to get. But I took it seriously and busted my *****. (Okay, let me qualify that with I took it seriously when I actually showed up. Early on I wasn't the most reliable person as far as attendance).
I was always caught up, my cooks rarley had to ask for anything. Usually, they'd come around the corner to ask for, say, dinner plates, and nearly run into me as I was already bringing them.
I've done other things earlier in my life, from working casino floors to being a warehouseman for a tile company, but I always fell back on culinary as it was something I had an inate knack for.
Now I think I'm stuck with it, lol.
It's that whole old dog, new tricks thing.
:D
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #7 of 8
Sometimes employers dont use their heads

A number of years ago I was working for a large New York Caterer, it was a Sunday afternoon, and we were real busy. we were short 2 dishwashers and the owner new we would be short. I was behind the machine washing dishes when he walked in. He said Hi and was smileing, I said to him "how can you smile when its costing you $35,00 per hour for me to wash dishes/ I am the most expensive dishwasher in New York, he stopped smiling and walked into the lobby to his office. I was never short dishwashers again..
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks to everyone who answered my questions. It has greatly helped me with deciding about culinary school and learning about how it is in this type of career.
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