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Guidance requested for an unsure student.

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

I've been interested in, and passionately cooking for about 10 years now. I had a chance to attend The Art Institute's culinary program about 8 years ago, but things didn't quite work out and I let the opportunity pass me by. Recently some things happened in my life which I thought were devastating but ended up working out for the best. I have been re-accepted into the program and will be attending soon, but recently I've been reading some information that has me second guessing my decisions.


I guess the main question is, "Is culinary school worth it", this is what I need to know. Is this just another facade of something great, but in the end, no employee really cares that much about? Is this program worth the time effort and wads of money that will be thrown into it, or am I better off just getting into a restaurant, working my ass off and climbing my way up?


I've never cooked in a restaurant before, although I have cooked and catered for over 200 people at a time before and although shit got crazy, I absolutely loved it. Food is a passion of mine, and it's a passion that I want to learn as much as possible about, and then share that knowledge with everyone else, and I know that culinary school will greatly increase my knowledge. Currently however, I'm am a bit unsure if the school is worth it or not, maybe it's just my nervous and excitement getting the better of me because I am walking away from a 8 year career that I do enjoy. However; I don't love it like I do food.


I want to be clear though, cooking and food ARE my passions, and I will survive in this profession. I have drive, determination, dedication and the ability to push through the shit to prove myself. I'm not worried about the verbal / mental abuse or the unstable work conditions, as I've been a deputy sheriff for the past 8 years, I can handle it. The main question here is if the time in the school will be a clearly beneficial to future endeavors in the food world, or if it will turn into something I just did one time..


Thanks for any advice.

post #2 of 3

After going back and forth with you a little bit from your original posting, and having some time to turn it over in my head, my gut feeling for you is that Culinary School would be beneficial.  I think it will give you an education that no matter how many restaurants or chefs you work for, you won't get otherwise, and as long as having your own business and own style is a goal of yours, you should get the full basis of cooking knowledge via a set and standard curriculum.  You'll learn constantly by working, and I suggest you work in a restaurant before spending a dime or a day on culinary school, but it's a different learning process. Culinary school gives you more seeds; work experience gives you more full-grown plants.


Now, very important that you consider the financial implications of culinary school.  The loan payments, and the loss of work-hours while in school.  Make sure your budget can more than handle it.

post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 

Cooking in and owning a small restaurant is a long term goal of mine, and I say long term because I am not naive enough to think that attending a culinary school with give me 20% of the experience I would need for that. I fully understand the concept and expect to work in low level entry positions after graduating culinary school. I do plan to put in time at a local restaurant ASAP, and continue to work throughout college. Although honestly, I haven't put as much thought into the financial aspect as you say I should have. I'll get on that straight away! I guess I already knew the answer I wanted, was just looking for a bit of reassurance. Thanks again Chef, I appreciate it!

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