First off, hello! (I'll introduce myself in the appropriate forums if I get the chance).
Soliciting opinions on which route to go. I can follow in either a school path, leaning towards a short-and-sweet and little debt or I can get hopefully into a kitchen and take the next steps there. Long and short, I learned side-by-side from the late brother who graduated Cum Laude from J&W, so I have a very decent training in Haute cuisine...but at the time I wasn't paying as much attention as I now would have loved to (young and unsure), but I did work with him starting at the bottom and then through another restaurant experience and finally alongside him in his own place, spanning about 4 years. I have done many kitchen tasks from cleaning pots/pans and floors to inventory to stocks/sauce/line/grill/etc/etc to plating dishes but feel I have some holes in my education (again I was young) but can certainly hold my own in a medium sized bistro environment. The other thing is, this was years ago and am in the middle of a career change. I've never left the love of the kitchen, food or that environment. I am dead serious in doing this, problem is there seems to be quite a bit of seemingly predatory schooling going on. I just need some feedback from people in the industry who can give me a clearer perspective on what is worth it in terms of an education and what is useless. It seems to me that a 6 month to one year course might be ideal and a reasonable debt load (depending on the school obviously). That in turn, if the school is decent will hopefully lead to networks. The other route is to jump in the fire. I really would love to be mentored but going from point A to point B seems to be mostly chance and opportunity.
As to the "where"....well that's complicated. My wife is currently researching schools to do her MFA and we are concurrently looking for places where I have the opportunity to kickstart a chef career as well. Mostly food and culture lively places are going up on the map...NYC, San Francisco, Chi, Seattle, Austin (recent addition which surprised us). Bard is on her list which is close to CIA Hyde Park, most of the other areas have LCB schools (again I'd be looking at the certificate). NYC has FCI but that and CIA are more cash.
Bottom line, what programs would you consider "worth it" and how does that stack up to just good old fashioned mentoring? If you had your choice where would you go and why?
Thanks so much for brainstorming with me!