or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

New to the Culinary World

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hello,

My name is Mandy and I am looking for some advice concerning Culinary School. I have read a lot of the forums on here, where a lot of people are asking the same question "to go to Culinary School or Not?" I have gone through this same question and have read through all the advice people have given others and other articles concerning this issue. I have also toured the only 2 possible culinary schools in my area (Le Cordon Bleu and the Art Institute of Minneapolis) and am very excited to pursue a career in the culinary arts. I just know that everyone advises that culinary school is not worth it. Yet I ask if culinary school is not worth it, then why are their culinary schools out there and still in business if they are not worth it? I have no desire to be a top, famous chef or making bank cooking. I want to learn as much as I can about food and how to be a good cook. My dream is to someday own my own restaurant, but for now I am happy just cooking no matter where or how much I make even if its out of my own home. I am willing to start at the bottom and learn by reading books on my own if that's what it takes but I want to know, if I apply for a kitchen job right now would I get the same position as I would if I applied with an Associate degree in the Culinary Arts? Surely this field is no different than any other field where if someone walked in with a degree you would be chosen over one with out, but I could be wrong. That is why I am asking for others advice on the matter. I have been to college for 3 years and would have enough credits to skip over all the general ed credits and move straight to the culinary classes, so that helps out with the money side of culinary school ,somewhat.

Secondly everyone advises that you first work in a real kitchen before attending culinary school. How would I go about doing this? Is there a type of restaurant I should be looking to apply to? What position would I really be applying for? The only knowledge I have in the world of culinary is the skills I have learned on my own or experimented with at home. I know very little. I would be very thankful for any advice one could give me on how to present myself to a restaurant as there is little help out there for us that are new to the world of Culinary.

post #2 of 11

Why are culinary schools out there?

 

Because there is market demand for them.

 

Do yourself a favour and aks the recruiting agent for culianry schools if htey work on commission or not.  Odds are the recruiting agent makes more than the instructors.  Ask them what you will earn after graduating.  If they come up with a figure higher than minimum wage thenthey are , as teh British would say, "Telling porky-pies".  

 

School will give you knowledge, but not much in the way of experience.

 

I HATE the word "degree" in a manual trade like cooking, but...

 

S'pse you had no previous experience prior to two years of culinary school, and say you were competing for a line cook's job and the other applicant had 4 years of working lower and similiar postions.

 

Your education doesn't effect the choice the Chef will make.

 

Things like personality and experience will.

 

To get a job in a kitchen, you have to find a job.  Look in local job listings or "carpet bomb" the restaurants in your area with resumes.

 

Your postion starting off in a restaurant will be dishwasher/ prep/ salad person.

Why?

 

It's a manual trade.

You have no previous experience, no one will give you the luxury of cooking without first demonstrating that you know how to.  It's their kitchen, thier customers, and thier reputation, that's all.

 

Hope this helps

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #3 of 11

As usual, I agree with what a lot of foodpump says. Great advice always. However, I do want to clarify, when I worked in admissions, we did not work on commission. However, it was our job to bring in students to keep our job. 

 

Mandy, 

 

You are asking great questions and asking them in the right place. Check your private messages as I am going to send you some additional information that should help you.

 

 

 

See the truth about the culinary education industry at www.culinaryschooladviser.com 
Reply
See the truth about the culinary education industry at www.culinaryschooladviser.com 
Reply
post #4 of 11

Another perspective - I entirely understand why many people advise against culinary school.  It is absolutely possible to get all of the experience and cooking knowledge you need without it.  However, just to give my perspective - it was the best decision I made.

 

 Please keep in mind that I am in the pastry field and only went to school for a 7-month baking and pastry program.  Also, I was a career changer and not starting out while still a teenager, hence I wanted a faster path and had some cash saved.  This is specific to me and had a big affect on my loving culinary school.  Even after my many years now working in the field, I still feel that my schooling was a great benefit and I was able to learn things in such a short time that would have taken years of working experience. I also was lucky enough to have some instructors that have helped long after graduation.  When I moved to Las Vegas, I contacted the school and one of the instructors gave me several contacts at top restaurants here in Vegas.  That kind of networking can be very valuable.

 

In several threads I have seen a reference to people starting out as dishwashers.  I have personally never seen this.  In fact in most restaurants the entry level positions are prep or garde manger.

Good luck! 

post #5 of 11

Mandyjo537:

FoodPump knows his craft, and gives sound advice, as always.

Shaw Guides lists 6 community colleges. Saint Paul College has the best community college program in Minnesota.

Avoid Art Institutes and Le Cordon Bleu, as they are merely frauds! Research online, the many class-action lawsuits filed against both of those corporations, and you will see that they exist merely to defraud unsuspecting, ignorant, gullible people['There's a sucker born every minute,' P.T. Barnum], who never have done any research.

If you were a student at SPC, their Job Placement office could help you find a job in restaurant, hotel, country club, kitchen. Oftentimes, there are job-postings on the bulletin board in the Culinary Arts Department.

So You Wanna Be a Chef

Good luck with your studies. chef.gif

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
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
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thank you everyone for taking the time to read and respond to my post, I really appreciate it. Each of you have given me a lot to think about. I have decided to continue my research and I have passed on both LCB and the AI. I plan on checking out the St. Paul College, thanks for the suggestion The Unknown Chef I didn't even know they offered culinary education. I was told to never look into a community college for culinary but they look like they have a good program. I also plan on looking for a job to start working in the kitchen now until i decide on a school. If anyone has any suggestions on what I should be looking for in a restaurant, that will be beneficial for me to start working at please let me know. I don't want to work at a restaurant that I will gain no experience and will give me no room to move up. I have no experience though, as I mentioned before so I am not sure who would hire me and how I would present myself. I have looked at the employment boards at both the culinary schools I have visited which has helped some, but the majority of them were restaurants in a mall, which is a job and I will take it but I don't see any room for growth there. Thanks again. :)

post #7 of 11

Mandy,

 

Here is a post I wrote on the subject of getting into a kitchen with little or no experience. http://culinaryschooladviser.com/?p=194

 

Also, who said to NOT look into community college for culinary arts?

See the truth about the culinary education industry at www.culinaryschooladviser.com 
Reply
See the truth about the culinary education industry at www.culinaryschooladviser.com 
Reply
post #8 of 11

i got a job as a line cook without any kitchen experience, dishwashing, prep or anything.  I think what helps a lot is to actually meet with the chef so they can see how determined/ambitious you are.  I applied to 20+ restaurants but the first chef I actually met in person hired me on the spot.  I made an extremely short "change of career" resume which had a short "applicable skills" section where I wrote things like "able to multitask well/fast, efficient, quick, works well with hands, attentive to detail"  The resume felt awkward to me since I have no kitchen experience and the work history was all construction hehe...but it worked.   

 

good luck to you

post #9 of 11

Hi Mandy,

Cooking is an Art and a Science and they run through my veins and the core of my being. Schooling and experience are essential to a successful career in the hospitality industry. I have plenty of experience, owned two restaurants, have my own personal and professional chef service and am currently chef of the General Wolfe Hotel, basically a bed and breakfast place. I also teach cooking classes. As for pay it ranges from 15$-70$ an hr. Point being I don't have my Certificate of qualification, aka "red seal". Which would provide a reliable and steady income, along with benefits and insurance for my family. Pursue your certificates, and find a happy medium with your art.

Kissing doesn't last,

cookery does

post #10 of 11

mandyjo537:

I would suggest that you seek work at the finest hotels in the Twin-Cities/Metro area, e.g.: Sofitel, Marriott, Hyatt, etc. Sofitel is a French hotel, and usually has French chefs. Marriott has their own commissaries, truck drivers, and even European chefs. I recommend hotel-restaurant kitchens, because they tend to have brigade-style kitchens, and you could start as a Pantry-Cook. You could learn the art of Garde Manger. Otherwise, golf country-clubs are another option, but they can be seasonal. Free-standing restaurants in the Twin-Cities/Metro area would be another option.

Minnesota Monthly: Food

Mpls/St. Paul Magazine: Food + Dining

chef.gif

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
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
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by cwjalex View Post

i got a job as a line cook without any kitchen experience, dishwashing, prep or anything.  I think what helps a lot is to actually meet with the chef so they can see how determined/ambitious you are.  I applied to 20+ restaurants but the first chef I actually met in person hired me on the spot.  I made an extremely short "change of career" resume which had a short "applicable skills" section where I wrote things like "able to multitask well/fast, efficient, quick, works well with hands, attentive to detail"  The resume felt awkward to me since I have no kitchen experience and the work history was all construction hehe...but it worked.   

 

good luck to you

This is similar to my experience, though years ago (in my teens) I had done the Dishwasher to Busboy to Server routine.  I was fortunate to have an "in" with one of my friends, but the bottom line was that I went in and talked to the owner, explained my situation and basically asked for a chance to prove myself.  I guess he saw my sincerity and believed that I loved food and was serious about learning to cook and hired me on the spot.  Now a month later I'm full-time and in charge of a station! 

 

While I have taken a knife skills class and plan to take some more through community colleges and such, I have no plans to ever go to culinary school.  In fact, every day on the job is culinary school for me at this point. 

 

Good luck!
 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home