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Culinary School even if I don't want to be in the biz?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Good day everyone!

I'm considering going to culinary school, but not for the reasons most people are.

I really, really want to learn to cook. I have no plans to enter into the industry, or to change careers, or start my own business. I just love food, and especially cooking, and I want to take my cooking to the next level.

I want to understand both the science and the art of food; the fundamentals; general do's and do not's when cooking. It seems to me that if one has solid fundamentals, then being a good cook will naturally follow with the right attitude, practice, and attention to detail.

Unfortunately, I severely lack fundamentals - knife skills, terminology, basic sauces, I've no experience in a restaurant, etc.

So I thought going to cooking school would be a great fit. I'd get instruction in the right atmosphere, lots of practice, and have someone to show me what I'm doing wrong, and ask questions.

Here in Atlanta, I have several choices - AI or one of two community colleges (they both offer exactly the same cirriculum, though I do not know if their programs are nights/weekends). If CC isn't an option (I doubt that it is), the only other school that offers a night program is AI (50K - ouch).

I have every intention of taking this as seriously as the most promising and experienced of students.

I do well in structured learning environments, so this seems like a good idea. And I feel like I'd learn quite a bit being immersed in a formal learning program. On the other hand, I am worried that - because I lack so many skills now, that perhaps I wouldn't be able to keep up if I attended a school like AI.

Is this a good way to go, do you think?

I've taken quite a few cooking classes, but the ones I've taken - even from notable chefs, only teach new recipes. And I wanted to learn so much more.

I can swing the tuition on my own without having to get loans, and I have the time - no fam/kids/sig. other or pets. And since I just moved here, I don't have much of a social life. The 50K scares me but I so love cooking! And I really want to learn so much more than I know now.

Is cooking school the right place for me?

Thanks so much for your advice.

post #2 of 8
Well, to help with the science end of things go to Amazon and look up On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. As far as actually doing things properly, try going to some of the cooking supply places that have those chef's classes and tell them what you want out of a class; maybe they can help point you in the right direction. Another possibility would be to contact a personal chef. Lots of them offer personal instruction and it's pay-as-you-go; if you're not happy with it, you can just stop.
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
post #3 of 8
I once met a guy who left his job in the financial world to attend Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. He was the happiest guy in the world and never regretted taking this break to learn how to cook.
If you can do it, why not... you might even have an epiphany or something and decide upon a complete change of career.

I am seriously thinking about going to cooking school myself while I am in Japan.
post #4 of 8
KJ, you answered the question I had for you in the other thread so this helps. If you are independently wealthy and money isn't an issue, AI or LCB can work for you but if you just want to learn to cook for the love of it, a community college could be a fine, if not the best option for you.
See the truth about the culinary education industry at www.culinaryschooladviser.com 
See the truth about the culinary education industry at www.culinaryschooladviser.com 
post #5 of 8
By all means if you have the time and money, go to culinary school. You should get exposure to a lot of different techniques, styles, and cuisines in a relatively short time frame, all the while building a good solid foundation (but that part is up to you).

I went to school with an operating room surgeon, who was on sabbatical from his chosen profession in order to pursue learning more about his passionate hobby.

Another fellow student was a retired master machinist, there for the same reason as the Doc.

Don't worry about lacking in some skill sets and experience. I also went to school with some people who had zippo experience and basic skills. Some of them turned out to be the better graduates. Some of the people that attended with me that had a lot of experience were actually some of the worst students and learned the least.

Both the Doc and the Machinist turned out to be near the tops in the class IMO because they were there for the right reasons.

Go for it, that way in the future there wll be no shouda, coulda, wouldas.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone!

Thank you kindly for the excellent responses.

I'm not independently wealthy (unfortunately) by any means, but I've been saving my pennies for quite some time. I won't need loans, but I'll notice the hit in my savings account. :)

I looked into both CC's here in Atlanta as they offer identical programs, but theirs are only offered in the day time. And I work during the day, so this is not an option. Had it not been for this, I would have chosen this over LCB/AI. I do not know how the educations compare, but either way I'd be learning and that's what's most important.

I've heard the same thing many times that cheflayne said, about experienced versus non-experienced students. I know I'll get out of it what I put into it.

When I spoke to LCB over the phone again today, the...counselor (?) said that although I lack basic skills, that will not be a problem. I just figured that today - what, where being a chef is all the rage, that maybe I'd have to have some sound skills before even applying. But I'm told otherwise; that they'd provide the basics regardless of skill coming in, and we'd have to learn the rest.

I cannot tell you how excited I am! This is a life long dream of mine. Thank you so much for helping me out. I've pretty much decided to attend a school, I'm just not sure which one.

If you've got any other advice, I'm all ears. Again, thank you kindly for your time.

...did I mention that I'm REALLY excited about this...?

post #7 of 8
I recently started culinary school after being laid off from my job in the financial services industry (after 10 years). Going to culinary school is something I've wanted to do for years, but I don't know that I'll work in this industry. My fiance and I opened an automotive shop earlier this year, so we're putting everything we can into making it successful. I'm not ruling out working in the culinary industry again, though. I just love cooking and enjoy being in a professional kitchen.

I think going to school is a great option even if you never plan to work in a professional kitchen. You can learn so much from being immersed in a school program. I chose a community college program because I simply could not afford, nor justify, AI or J&W; but I would've considered them if the cost was not an issue. Good luck.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 


I agree. After having visited LCB in Atlanta last night I'm sure I'll be attending.

If you know anyone who might benefit from the details of my visit with LCB, the details can be found here:


in the post titled, "Last Night's LCB Appointment Details".

I am so very excited...!

Thank you for your input. Everyone's positive responses and encouragement certainly helped me make a decision.

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