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Wannabe Chef... ADVICE PLEASE!

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I have not been to Culinary School yet but I will be going to Le Cordon Bleu next year. I want to learn as much as I can before I go though. I am not that knowledgable when it comes to all I should know. I watch a lot of cooking shows and I am always like "What did they just say?" when I hear a new food or spice I never knew existed.

 

Where can I learn about these things? Different spices and sauces and what they go good with and different cooking methods. Should I just wait for culinary school? Or are there things that can help me now? Please I really want to learn as much about food as possible because I am so passionate. btw I am 17 right now. Thank you.

post #2 of 19
Thread Starter 

No answer yet? I would really appreciate advice so let me restate my question. I really do not know that much about cooking but the basics. I do not know all the spices,herbs,and sauces and what they go with. I do not know that much about these things but I do know that cooking is my passion although I can only cook at a cheeseburger stand level. I watch all these cooking shows and I hear terms I never heard before and I go on wikipedia and youtube to try and learn it but I can never try it out because my family does not really have enough money to let me shop and experiment with new foods and new recipes. I only cook stuff like burgers,fries,spaghetti,stir fry,steak,fried chicken, you know the simple things...

 

I am just kind of upset because I know I want to be a chef but I just feel like I am not learning enough! I am not doing enough... Should I wait till Culinary School and stop stressing myself out? Or should I get all the knowledge I can before Culinary school so I won't look like a complete donkey? Any books to teach me about different foods and spices? Any advice? Thanks PLEASE.

post #3 of 19

As I do not know you status disregaurd of I mis-speak. If you still in High school do thet offer Voc-Ed classes? If not you may want to do your college in stages. You may want to start with a community type class to get started. I'm bias so your choice of Le Blue would be on the bottom of my list. It's like the ITT of culinary and is a school not a college. I would recommend as I always do Johnson And Wales in RI. Just look at the instructors and adminstration, It can not be beat. As far as you spice, herds go raid your (if you can) Mom's cabinet and take a very small amount and I like to mix it with rice. Kinda do a blind taste test. You can grow herds very easy in a window and use thse to taste the same way. DO you homework and make sure you talk to students at the school both currectly enrolled and graduates. In closing I would get a little work under my belt before going to college. You will find a couple different opinions on going to college, some has dont bother and some say its the only way. I say go but you have to stand out and stay out of the party scene, if you party then save your money as college would do much for you you'll just be an average student working in a average place.

 

Good Luck

post #4 of 19

first and foremost cooking anything at home no matter what "level" it is will have almost no connection to what goes on in a restaurant of any caliber.

 

also of note a knowledgeable and well practiced burger cook is something that doesn't come along every day. So saying you are at burger stand level is not a good comparison. Some pretty gifted people cant reliably turn out fantastic burgers day in and day out there is more to it than just making a dense little patty and watching it turn into a golf ball while it cooks. just ofr good measure http://aht.seriouseats.com/

 

I am of the school of thought that you are wasting your time and money without first working in a kitchen for a time and with the way LCB has whored out their name and if I am not mistaken involved in a fair amount of legal action over not delivering what they sold atleast at cca Id avoid them like the plague these days

post #5 of 19

Get a job as a dishwasher, at a nice place, and watch and listen to what the cooks are doing.  Keep your mouth shut and your eyes open. Study food, but understand that book knowledge is different from practical experience.  Expect to be wrong a lot.  Culinary school will never pay for itself, as they are paid to get you to pass tests and graduate, not compensated for what they teach you.  I'd advise the ACF apprenticeship program as a better route to experience and growth.  Either way, it's not an easy path, and it doesn't get easier as you progress, you just become better at it if you are disciplined and focused. 

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post #6 of 19

I think that the one of the best thing you can do is get an internship at a good restaurant. That is what I am doing now (I am also going to culinary school) and I can't believe how much I have learned in just a couple of days, you don't get paid, but its easier to get into good restaurants (I got into the best catering company in Utah because of working as an intern). The other thing I would suggest is just cook like crazy I have been cooking sense I was twelve (I am sixteen now, I know what you are thinking "Why would I listen to a sixteen year old?" but trust me I am at the top of my class (I am doing concurrent enrolment) and that is thanks to reading and nonstop cooking" and use your imagination (for plating and thinking of new things to cook), go off the book sometimes. I think it is amazing on how much I can do now just because I just cooked almost every day now I make my own recipes and they taste great! The last thing is get a hold of good books they have taught me more that any TV shows have (I have some great suggestions if you need them).

(P.S. Love your Icon)

-E.J.Dutcher

post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice everyone so so much :)
 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanBrown View Post

Get a job as a dishwasher, at a nice place, and watch and listen to what the cooks are doing.  Keep your mouth shut and your eyes open. Study food, but understand that book knowledge is different from practical experience.  Expect to be wrong a lot.  Culinary school will never pay for itself, as they are paid to get you to pass tests and graduate, not compensated for what they teach you.  I'd advise the ACF apprenticeship program as a better route to experience and growth.  Either way, it's not an easy path, and it doesn't get easier as you progress, you just become better at it if you are disciplined and focused. 


I applied to Red Lobster today for the busser position. Idk if you would consider a place like Friday's,Red Lobster,Chillis or Olive Garden as a "nice place" but I live in Los Angeles with a lot of nice french fine dining restaurants... It is just that idk if I would be able to get the job because I am only 17 years old and I'm not sure if they will hire me...I will try for sure though!

I know that it is not easy, and I am willing to take this challenge head on! I feel like I am very disciplined and I love to take constructive criticism and I know how to respect those who are more knowledgeable than me :). Thank you so much for your advice Dan.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by EJDutcher View Post

I think that the one of the best thing you can do is get an internship at a good restaurant. That is what I am doing now (I am also going to culinary school) and I can't believe how much I have learned in just a couple of days, you don't get paid, but its easier to get into good restaurants (I got into the best catering company in Utah because of working as an intern). The other thing I would suggest is just cook like crazy I have been cooking sense I was twelve (I am sixteen now, I know what you are thinking "Why would I listen to a sixteen year old?" but trust me I am at the top of my class (I am doing concurrent enrolment) and that is thanks to reading and nonstop cooking" and use your imagination (for plating and thinking of new things to cook), go off the book sometimes. I think it is amazing on how much I can do now just because I just cooked almost every day now I make my own recipes and they taste great! The last thing is get a hold of good books they have taught me more that any TV shows have (I have some great suggestions if you need them).

(P.S. Love your Icon)

-E.J.Dutcher



Hi EJ! I think I have to be 18 years old in California to get an internship or already in Culinary School and I am neither of those. I am a 17 year old student who is studying for my GED. I wish that I can cook non stop but my family does not have enough money to buy me everything I need to experiment and learn... My mom told me that she is only able to let me cook one dinner meal for the family a month... It is very hard but I am trying to get a job as a busser or dishwasher at local restaurants now so I can get my own money to do these things. I have A LOT of creative ideas in my mind floating around but it is frustrating that I am not able to EXECUTE them yet. Cooking is my passion and I want to learn these simple things more than ANYTHING in the world! but I just feel kind of stuck. I feel like I have to wait till Culinary School to learn these things but I don't want to wait because I do not want to be completely clueless in Culinary School. Oh yeah Thank you for the icon compliment :) I LOVE HELL'S KITCHEN lol.

 

 

 

 

 

On the other hand... I notice a lot of negative comments about LCB... I am surprised because I hear a lot of good things about LCB too and I took a tour of their campus last year and it seemed like an excellent school for me. I hear chefs brag about being from LCB and I also hear a lot of big names came from LCB. Can someone please tell me what is so bad about it? Thanks.

 


 

post #8 of 19

Here's what I meant about school not being worth it.  Go to 11 of 21.

 

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/09/chefs-salary-survey-who-e_n_637995.html#s111004

 

"Although It is unclear from starchef.com's data here what the respective average salaries are for chefs with culinary degrees, and those without them, the survey does say that, "there’s a mere $300 difference in salary between degree-holders and non-degree-holders."

If no one will follow you, you can't be the leader.
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If no one will follow you, you can't be the leader.
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post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

I love the idea of an internship or busser/dishwashing job to get me a chance to learn a few things and get to know the kitchen. I have already applied to jobs like Red Lobster and Olive Garden for a busser position. How can I get an internship if I am just a GED student? I am only 17 years old studying for my GED and I need to know how to get a Culinary Internship in Los Angeles California. Any help appreciated. Thank you.

post #10 of 19

 

Don't take this the wrong way, but grow a pair and go pound the pavement. You can't get far without the effort of going job hunting. In a city the size of LA there are literally thousands of places just getting in and doing dishes is enough to get your foot in the door. Be motivated work hard and when there are no dishes and you get the hang of the place offer to peel potatoes or the like learn whats what so you can grab stuff out of the walk in for the line guys. Don't be a jackass don't whine ever and if you are told to do something do it without back talk.

 

there are laws the govern you but they are very few in the summer months.

 

most of the stipulations on youth are serving drinks and hour requirements and in most cases using heavy equipment.

 

post #11 of 19

Being a student or not doesn't really madder, you could be 21 and still get an internship. and there is no laws against getting an internship at a place as long as they don't serve alcohol or anything else that would keep you from working there. Getting an internship easer than you would think, all you need to do is find some good restaurant and call the manger and ask him if you could get an internship, you will probably need to call a couple of restaurant before getting into any ware, but if you try hard I am sure you will get in a good place. I don't suggest trying to get into a chain it is better to try to get into a nice local restaurant.

 

 

-E.J.Dutcher

post #12 of 19

Enrolling to a culinary school couldn't beat from experience. My advise is you better find a good restaurant with good chef and work with them as many as you can for you will learn much more things from experts than getting yourself involved to culinary school. The  knowledge you will get from school is limited but if you are working with real chefs, your learnings ca go beyond. Start inquiring and maybe for a part time at first until you can work as full time.

post #13 of 19

Go to college not school, no chef will teach you accounting and business. A 2 year degree is a waste of $$$. It all depends on what you want to do. If you and when the banks drink a couple single malts, you will find it hard to get a loan with out the sheeps skin. I maybe wrong but bankers like the 4 year degree.

post #14 of 19



 

Quote:

 

 

 

On the other hand... I notice a lot of negative comments about LCB... I am surprised because I hear a lot of good things about LCB too and I took a tour of their campus last year and it seemed like an excellent school for me. I hear chefs brag about being from LCB and I also hear a lot of big names came from LCB. Can someone please tell me what is so bad about it? Thanks.

 


 



My issues with LCB are:

1) Recruitment officers/agents.  These are the guys who tell you you'll make 60 grand p.a. if you just sign on the dotted line.  If you don't they will not stop calling you, e-mailing you, snail -maling you, etc. until you either sign, or call the cops.  I'm not B.S.ing here either.  The recruitment boys always earn more (in salary and consignment) than the top Chef Instructor.

 

2) Degrees.  Mind you I've only got a gr 12 and an apprentice's trade papers, so I may not know all about education.  It's my gut feeling that "degrees" are not offered for trades, and that only Universities--NOT colleges offer degrees.  I believe a University offers courses which are respected and taken at face value at other Universities around the world--Colleges do not.

 

3) The abuse of the word/title "Chef"  A cook and a Chef are not interchangeable.  Without going into too much detail (and arguement,

-A "cook" is judged by how well they cook

-A "Chef" is judged by how well they manage their resources.

Everybody in LCB is a Chef, the students, the instructors, the graduates.  Doesn't sit right with me.

 

But mainly,

 

4) The course cost.  What are they asking for it now?  30 grand?

-The reality of it is, with no previous kitchen experience prior to enrolling,  a freshly minted LCB grad will earn ....(drum roll please) ...Minimum wage.  Awfully hard to pay back student loans or to earn a living on minimum.  The schools know this, and they don't give a rat's posterior about it.

 

Work wherever you can, watch, learn, listen, and it doesn't matter if it's red lobster or not.

Plant herbs, they're virtually free, libraries are free, bookstores are too, websites are free, and lots of info out there too.

 

You need both book knowlege and practical knowledge, neither one out-trumps the other.

 

But work in a few places first to make absolutely sure you want this.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you all so much! Advice taken.

post #16 of 19

Man i wish you worked for me-its hard to find young people with the obvious passion you behold!

All id suggest is-right here on this site or the internet in general is sooooooooooo full of information,or if your  old fashioned like me-read,read,read beg,borrow  or steal ? (No) books that will teach you lots.

Also ask ask ask questions of friends,family,other chefs-even if u ask at a local restaurant or even online on a reastaurants website-most chefs want to help  the' up and comming " so we have good people in the game in future-not "cowboys". (thats a term for an unproffessional chef,btw.) 

Knowledge is power-which will make you greater!! 

post #17 of 19

You will find if you start at the bottom-eg as a dishy or kitchenhand your keen ness will get noticed and open other doors-thats how i gained my once sort after apprentiship.The other plus is-latter in life when u have advanced-you will know how it feels and whats involved in doing the lesser jobs-it gives you a whole  new perspective and appreciation on what the kitchenhands do,because frankly,chefs would be nothing without them............

post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much Phillipo. I am glad someone recognizes my passion for this. I want this more than anything and although my responses may be short, I am taking all of your advice very seriously and I am going to go out there and go for it because I want this and I will get it. I have already called up a few restaurants and I will update you all on what happens. Thank again :)

post #19 of 19

hey it was great to read the discussions on your page.since i am too in middle of filling applications for Culinary schools your questions were like somebodies writting out my thoughts and questions.Indeed iam gone take  all the tips these pro chefs have given and work on them.iam sure i ll get somewhere.Infact fom the time i first read this page i have already applied for interships and the good news is i have cracks through to one the finest hotelsin New Delhi,India for thd same...newys  ALL the Best to you too.. Happy Chefing..

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