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I'm in need of some guidance.

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Okay, long story short I want to be a chef.
I'm only 16 right now, and I plan to go into the Army when I'm 18. Also, if doing this, I will be spending 2-4 years out of 4 doing something in college that will aid me any way in becoming a chef. I'm lost though.

I have questions, too many to list..
1 - What could I do in the Army that has to do with culinary arts without much experience, if any? To start learning, and progress as I go along to help me become a chef?
2 - What college courses will help me, and are there any I need to have?
3 - What schooling do I need to be a chef/have my own restaurant? Or be a chef at a fine(r) restaurant.

I don't know much about Culinary Arts, or being a chef at all. It is just something I'm very interested in pursuing. So if I left out a question that would've given me helpful information... Please help me out.

Thank you for reading, I appreciate any help anyone is willing to give.
-Scott
post #2 of 16
As an enlisted man, the Army can teach you to work through tough situations. You'll need that a lot in the culinary world.

It seems that lots of the Army's cooking has been contracted out on established bases or mass produced in the field through MRE. Probably still some field kitchens, but even then I think it's mostly heating prefab containers.

Probably the same for the Air Force.

The Navy certainly still runs kitchens on its ships. If you want to try for more realistic culinary experience, the Navy might be a better arm of the military to enlist in.

No matter what a recruiter tells you, the military will train you in what it needs, not what you want. It always has that ace up its sleeve.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #3 of 16
For starters, get a job at a pizza joint or a country club or some place you can get yer butt in the kitchen. You will then learn the many wonders of peeling and chopping more vegetables then you thought were on the planet. as a pantry chef (no your not a chef at this point, just a salad maker with a fancy name) you will do that and more. If you can hang with that for a year at your age, your off to a good start.


there was a thread around here somewhere, but I can't find it. There was a brief discussion in the middle of another topic. I think Shipscook had some advice on which branches of the military could actually give you chef accreditation and the real skills to go with it. I'll see what I can do to find it.


as for college courses Restaurant and hotel management wouldn't be a bad start nor any small buisness course. Been cooking for about 8 years now and restaurant management would be the one thing I haven found I could't learn in the kitchen.
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #4 of 16
Army kitchen may upgrade your skills.
Secret recipes of the famous restaurants have been revealed!
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Secret recipes of the famous restaurants have been revealed!
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post #5 of 16
Assuming you graduate high school, and score highly enough on the Navy general aptitude test, you can enlist with a contractual guarantee of specific class A schools.

If I were you I would pursue that, striking to become a commissaryman (which is what the Navy calls its cooks).

But don't wait until you're 18. Were it me, I'd talk to a recruiter now. Explain what you're looking to do, and let them explain the options---there might be things you should be doing to increase the odds of getting what you want. Then, at the appropriate time, follow up---making sure than any promises the recruiter makes verbally are reflected in your written contract.

I would also talk to recruiters for the other services, while I was at it. But the Navy probably has the best program for your needs.

Meanwhile, I'd try and find part-time work in a restaurant, country club, or even with a local caterer, just to get my feet wet and see if this is really a career path I want to pursue.

Culinary arts can be a rewarding career in many ways. But it is not the glamourous job portrayed on TV and in the movies.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks, you guys are helping a lot.
I appreciate it, still looking for some more feedback if possible?
post #7 of 16
As others have said, get into the business. Work as a server which will let you in as to how the front office of a restaurant works... you'll need that knowledge if you have plans to open a restaurant. Learn as much as you can about the business... how customers like to be treated, how to get your orders to the kitchen and how the kitchen flows to get you what you need to bring to the table. Volunteer to help with odd jobs... if it's slow.. find out if you can assist in the kitchen.

At your age, the more knowledge you can gain on your own will just add to the learning experience when you take classes in cooking and restaurant management. You'll be ahead of the curve as you'll 'understand' what the professor is talking about as you already worked on this.

As for the Military.. yes, the Navy will have the best. My father bought produce for all the military installation on the Eastern Seaboard and Europe (all from NYC) and he always said the Navy got the very best of any branch of the military. And, as they have said.. GET IT IN WRITING!!! Recruiters are known to make any promise necessary to get you to sign... they are nothing more than government paid used car salesmen!! If they don't put what you want in writing; don't sign it!!

Good luck to you and if the passion you have now comes across in your food, you'll be a raving success. FYI... cook at home for the family and friends... good way to test your skills...
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Oh, I cook all the time for my family, girlfriend, etc.
I've had to cook for myself most of my life, so it's nothing new. I taught myself, and I can really make anything if I have directions. It usually comes out decent, if not.. Try again. :)

I just picked up a lot of applications.. 3 from pizza places. :)

Thanks everyone, like I said. Keep the feedback coming if possible, it's helping a lot!
post #9 of 16
I wish you the best in this endeavor.
Our son was in the military, on a ship.
He was always telling me what the cooks made for each meal.
Although he had no interest to persue that, he was surprised at how much work went into it [the prep] and that there were many things to choose from to eat.
I am sure that if you want to work in a kitchen while in the military, they'd be pleased to have you there.
You can maybe start small and work your way up.
I know my grandfather peeled a lot of potatoes back in his day in the military.
...All anyone ever does is complain....stop griping and start being thankful...be grateful...be appreciative...
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...All anyone ever does is complain....stop griping and start being thankful...be grateful...be appreciative...
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post #10 of 16
>>feedback

with many many exceptions, the Army and the Air Force (Coast Guard...) are essentially land based. in war time, you have a chance to become a hero. in peace time, you only get to feed those who choose to eat in the enlisted/NCO/officer mess.

when you're at sea for 120 days, there is no pizza delivery, and there is no McD's over the next wave. ergo, the Navy has always put a higher priority on good chow.
and if you think your glazed doughnut wasn't so good, wait about 90 days - improves with deprivation.

the Marines go with the Navy, so....

if you aspire to be the source behind the absolute highest priority best chow in the military, go subs. the Submarine service, especially boomers, set the standard for anything militarily eaten, flat out hands down, no questions or quibbles.
post #11 of 16
The other services say, disparagingly about sailors: If they don't get three hots and a cot, it's somebody elses war.

There's a certain amount of truth in that (spoken from a Navy vet, btw). When you're not able to return to hearth and home every night there has to be some trade-off.

But, by knowing about it, you can use it to your advantage when seeking training.

There is a downside, though: When you cook on a ship you often have access to equipment that most restaurants would kill for. But it's always easier to adapt downward than the other way.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #12 of 16
The military will teach you many things. You will learn discipline. You will learn to step up and take responsibility for your own actions. You will learn to take orders without questioning. When you think you are "too tired to go on", they guy in charge will change your mind for you. Just because you want to be a cook, doesn't mean you won't wind up in the motor pool. So you will learn how to accept and deal with disappointment. You will learn valuable lessons in teamwork & how to work well with others. You will discover how difficult it is to keep your mouth shut when the CO comes in, gives the guy in charge high praise for work you actually did. I wish you much success in your carreer.
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for the help and support, it means a lot to me. Especially since none of you know me, I'm just another person. Really, I do appreciate it.

Although, you can never have enough opinions! :P
post #14 of 16
Yeah...if you must go military, presumably for the college thing, then the Navy for sure...won't they take you younger?

Feeding a steady, demanding crew from a small, hot space with only what you brought with you to choose from sounds like solid industry skills! Later on ..after you've done some high-end food on land.. that experience could get you some good money on the boats..

As for college courses.. Business, of course! In the industry chefs are in control of a product that ultimately must be cost effective...to be a good chef you'll need to learn how to get this done in the particular market your boss is aiming at.:eek:

Learning the principles of the economics as you go seems like the best move for you to ultimately become a successful owner/operator yourself...if that's the goal...lot of headaches there, bro'! :crazy:

As for getting some experience...Dude, we all start in the sink (or should)...it's the secret backdoor to the industry!
Not keen on the pizza plan (too kit-set to be representative of cheffing?)
Maybe pick a small, busy kitchen you like the look of... tell your story & ask if you can help with dishes for free :suprise:...to get your foot in the door! ...then
Listen to everything you're told & try to figure out where everything is & should be, if you can't..ask (just once please!)..when you know where it is you can go get for them...runners are handy :roll:!

Try to be fast, efficient and show initiative, chefs are used gauging workers by how they approach the job....if you run out of work ask if you can peel something?

You might end up shelling oysters but the point is you'll be making yourself in the kitchen & that is worth paying for! ;)
Chefs are always gonna need help & always appreciate those who give to them...get yourself in that position!

Good Luck!
"Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans."
Allen Saunders, 1957.
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"Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans."
Allen Saunders, 1957.
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post #15 of 16
In the Navy, about the best thing you can say about a given ship is "She's a good feeder." That reputation spreads among the squadron or the division.

On the other hand, my destroyer ran into a hurricane off the Azores and we had to turn and run before it for almost a week. It was too rough to do any cooking, and everybody ate peanut-butter sandwiches, three "meals" a day, for five days.

Never cared much for peanut-butter since then. ;)

Mike
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #16 of 16
>>>peanut-butter sandwiches

sandwiches? you had sandwiches....? we got C-rats.

when you're heeling to the point the spam rolls off the cracker, you could have a problem.

operation "Magic Sword" - or as we called it "Rusty Sword"
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