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Changing plans about school..

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Well, for the past couple of years, my plan has been to go to culinary school after high school.. But now, being a senior in high school and looking at not only how expensive it is, but also reading that a lot of times, culinary school isn't exactly necessary, I'm reconsidering.

I wanted to ask you all here if it sounds reasonable to simply get a full time job waiting, or busing, and working my way up the ladder to eventually get into the kitchen as a career? Is that possible? Reasonable? Obviously, pay wouldn't be high, but I figured that that would give me hands on experience, and if I wanted to get a higher job in the culinary world, and/or even branch off into my own business, that would give me enough experience to do so.

So does that sound like an okay plan instead of culinary school?

Thanks.

post #2 of 11

Rather than FOH, I'd look into getting on in the dishpit or as a kitchen "gofor", in other words, if BOH is where you want to go, start there.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the response.

I also wanted to ask if it'd even be possible to work an entry level position full time? Do most places offer that?

And how long could it take to work my way up to cooking?

Thanks again.

post #4 of 11
There are ALWAYS dishes to wash, vegetables to be cleaned, potatoes to be peeled. floors to be mopped. counters and tables to be cleaned and sanitized, hoods to be cleaned, pots and pans to be washed, and the list goes on... Dishwashers, prep cooks, kitchen helpers, line cooks, they ALL either get sick, party too long, or just "no show" for whatever reason, if you're there and act like you might have a clue... How long until you're "on the line"? That depends on numerous factors, not the least of which is how fast you learn to do what you HAVE to do so you have time to watch, listen, and when the time is right, ask questions. Never "stand around", if you're done with your tasks, look around and see who might need help, when everyone else "takes a break" be in the kitchen, you'll be surprised at the opportunities that will crop up.
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #5 of 11

Well I'm a senior in high school and am in the same situation as you are in,but I found a job as a  cook and now i'm working on the line. So if you find the right place I work at a hotel. I never bussed or waited tables,but I think you should reach higher than a bus boy or waiter.

post #6 of 11

Travis, I'm sure you didn't mean that the way it came out. It's not that busboys and servers are lower than dishwashers and prep station workers. Rather they represent different paths.

 

There's nothing wrong with starting as a busboy or server, if FOH is your goal. But, as Pete notes, if you're target is cooking, you go where that takes place---that is, the kitchen.

 

Entry level, in the kitchen, traditionally is pearl diving. A culinary degree often means skipping that stage, and working directly on things like prep. Or even, if everything works out, going to work on the line.

 

One question for you: What's your background. Travis equates himself with you. And, so far as your ages and education levels, that may be true. But he's enrolled in a culinary arts program at his high school, and has more than the basics under his belt. Unless you can say the same, don't be disappointed if you have to start at a lower level than he did.

 

Also, take a closer look at culinary school. While it's true that the top-ranked schools are very expensive, there's a whole gamut of community colleges, trade schools, and other venues for culinary education. While these might not be up to the same level as, say, CIA or Johnson & Wales, they are much more affordible. And will at least provide you with enough to build on when you do get that first job.

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 #7 of 11

Definitely no reason to go FOH if you want to be BOH.  I was lucky to land a job in the kitchen with no previous kitchen experience, like most professions out there it's very much about connections and who you know, who may be able to help you out. 

 

As was said already there's always things that need to be done, and there's often opportunities to help out "off the books" with special events or catering jobs as well.  If you do well and they like you there will be more work.  Again like any other career pursuit, you've gotta get out there and make yourself known cuz nobody's going to come to you...

 

I'm part-time and the pay (for the moment) kinda sucks, but I got in where I wanted to be and they're willing to train me.  So it definitely can be done!

post #8 of 11

No I didnt mean that bus boys were lower I meant that if he wanted to become a cook he should start in the kitchen such as a prep cook.

I think it is important to get experience before going to culinary school. I'm taking Culinary arts in high school and its a joke compared to what I'm learning at work.

I'm not learning anything. Alls we do is we get recipes and make them and half the kids dont know knife skills or how to cook at that matter. Most the cooking teachers at my school havent worked in a high pased    environment like a Restaurant kitchen. My point is find a job in the kitchen to get experience if you have a good chef he/she will teach you all you need to know so you can be the best of the best.

At work I learn first person of how a chef operates and the different things that chefs have to do such as accounting payroll,inventory,managing money and allot more. Just look around and tell them what you said at the forum and ask if they have any prep jobs open. At first I started in Pantry/Prep Station and now I'm a roundsman so I still do pantry I work the line and help with banquets.

post #9 of 11

My daughter has just figured out that she wants to get into pastry and baking,  but she is currently a buser.  When there is room, she is going to ask if she can move into the kitchen and she does have a bit of an edge as her mom works in the same restaurant and they already know that she's a good worker and learns fast.  I have her scheduled in the kitchen this weekend for prep and support as I have no staff and I know she will be fine.  She does what she is told and learns very quickly.

 

OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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post #10 of 11

Not all culinary schools are expensive. Where do you live? There might be a community college in your area. 

See the truth about the culinary education industry at www.culinaryschooladviser.com 
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See the truth about the culinary education industry at www.culinaryschooladviser.com 
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post #11 of 11
Buttercup: You mock my pain!
Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something. -- The Princess Bride
Miracle Max: Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world-except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean...
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Buttercup: You mock my pain!
Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something. -- The Princess Bride
Miracle Max: Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world-except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean...
Reply
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