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Do i need culinary school?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hey guys, so im 19 and have worked in kitchens since i could start work at the age of 14... ive worked in 3 kitchens so far and have worked both FoH and the kitchen (cooking is where i want to be). Im working as a Prep cook right now in a high end chain and am pulling full time without any education beyond high school. How likely is it that one day i could become a sous / head chef in a high-end  restaurant someday with just experience backing my resume and no college training?

post #2 of 6

This question gets asked so much that you could probably do a search on it and have reading for the next two hours.  As far as culinary school goes you don't need it to advance.  But that does not mean you don't need to be well educated in the trade.  First thing to learn is what you got to learn and a forum like this is a good place to start.  Speed, confidence, deft execution of technique, cool under pressure- these will get you advanced.


High end restaurants are like schools really.  You don't make too much money and you work your tail off.  If you can take the pressure, stick to it for some years, and advance, then great opportunities open later.  It seems to me, in every country I've worked in, that in the high-game scene everyone in the kitchen is training under the head chef, even the sous chef.  So you find a master chef or two to train under for several years, advance via dedication and perfection, then you apply to be the head chef at the type of place that is to your liking - Mega yacht, island hotel, private chef, even a food factory or whatever.  And keep the tradition going by taking the time to see those working in your kitchen are being educated and advancing.  :-)

post #3 of 6

The answer is that you need an education.  Culinary school isn't the only way, but it may well be the fastest.  It's rare that you can find one restaurant where the chef will teach you everything you need to know.  It takes years of working in different restaurants to obtain the same knowledge that you might learn in school.  It doesn't have to be one of the best known, it just has to be a program that lays a foundation for you to build and grow on.  And while you're in school, try to work in a restaurant at the same time.  Nothing beats experience.

post #4 of 6

The key to becoming a chef (chief=manager) is education, education in:

  • Personnel management and human resources
  • Business finance
  • Business administration
  • Business accounting
  • Business law
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Basics of plumbing, electrical, HVAC, carpentry, etc.
  • oh yes, it helps if you know how to cook too lol.gif


Where you obtain that education is up to you. Culinary school will get you part way there as will an apprenticeship or OJT. Which one is best? The one that works for you!


Culinary school may provide a survey overview of the above list while apprenticeship or OJT may give you a glimpse of what the real world offers.


However you get your training, keep learning for the next 10-20 years, when you stop learning at one job, move to another or go to school to augment your education in some area you are weak in or go to night school, day school, or simply read during your off time.

Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #5 of 6

oh look, this post again

post #6 of 6

It gives you a good base to start with, it's not necessary, though.


It's up to you how you decide to use the base you will learn in school, you need to decide what your cuisine and style is from that base.

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