I'm from Ithaca ny.. a very small place but an area with more restaurants per capita than the city and all consider themselves foodies. I elected not to go to college after high school (third year out) because I didn't have a clue which direction I wanted to go and college is all on my own dime, not my parents'. I've done very well for myself since then and luckily have moved up from the depths of the soapy suds of a dish pit six years ago to now being a sous chef at a very reputable fine dining spot in town. I have met many restaurateurs around the area and have become friends with many line cooks and executive chefs that are intrigued by my fast moving "career" thus far as a cook. It's also a strange thing to be twenty years old and now spend most all of my time around restaurant people that are 26+. Sorry for the long intro... here is my dilemma.
Everyone that I know in the business tells me that whatever I do... stay away from culinary school, "Don't waste your money.. you've already learned what they teach you in four years." "Here is your piece of paper"... hands me paycheck.."Now go put it on your parents' fridge so that they can be proud of you!!"
For the last year of being around these people and their anti CIA attitude, I have agreed and told myself that I would save my money for my future moves in the business or what have you. I have met CIA grads that don't make as much as me and have far worse jobs than me and I have felt proud of what I believed in and what I have accomplished.
NOW.. a few nights ago I run into an old high school bestie of mine who attends the hotel school at cornell and is doing very very well. he spends his summers interning at the waldorf in the maldives and then during winter break he's interning at the waldorf in the city. We start talking.. and he begins to tell me, "Man you HAVE to go to culinary school! If you want to get to the next level in the culinary world and really go big time then it is absolutely a MUST. now he is more into management and hospitality but through guest chefs and elective classes that are offered at cornell he has a great understanding of food as well. It was strange because during the conversation he KNEW how much more knowledge he has than me and he was assuming that I had no technique and that someone other than me and the exec chef made the menu and changed it seasonally and that we don't throw specials daily and that we don't order, cost food, train employees, study gluten free dairy free low sodium vegan vegitarean dishes in our time.
I am now very confused. Is he right? Should I be in school? I understand and agree with him on a few points.. but the fact that the people I'm closest to in the industry advise me not to go to school and that it would be silly to waste the money and that I would be lost.. two or three years behind in my career if I stopped working.
Sorry if mods are upset that this is not in the culinary school forums, I have no qualms with it being moved I just really wanted to get the pro chefs thoughts..
What are your guys' thoughts? (If you got this far)