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Experience>Knowledge?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Well let me first begin on my current predicament. I cooked in restaurants sense i was 17, im now 28. Went to culinary school back in 2009 and had to drop out due to personal family issues, not my lack of ambition or ignorance. Im now 15k in debt with no degree, and working on a line making 9 dollars an hour. Im deciding whether it would be worth the effort in paying my sub-school loans, like books and stuff, and get my transcripts and go back and get my degree, and maybe get my foot in the door to a good chef who can help me excel. Or, just say forget it, and find a good restaurant that serves "fresh" food, or at least to my standards, and work my way up to sous chef without a degree, at this point i think the degree thing is pretty important to a future employer, that a drop out would want to work "here", but my work ethic is clean and crisp, but i want to make more money, simple as that. Should i go back to school to get a better job, or use my so called experience and ambition do the talking?

post #2 of 6

It really depends on your ambition.   There is no magic answer.

 

If you want to make more money then work at bigger fancier places at bigger and more responsible jobs.

 

If you want to get a certificate then go back to school.

 

Your prospective employer will not care if you dropped out or not, they will only care about the quality of your work.

 

If I recall correctly the mighty Mario Batali is a Le Cordon Bleu (London) drop-out.  

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #3 of 6

If you have been in the industry for 11 years, especially with even SOME schooling to have on your resumé, have you tried to get into a higher/management position? After 11 years, you should be doing more than humping it out on a line for $9p/hr, IMHO.

 

Can that piece of paper help? Sure. Is it mandatory? Nope. With 11 years of being in a professional kitchen, you should be able to get picked up pas a Sous, at LEAST. have you gotten involved ever with ordering/purchasing, setting pars, creating prep lists, backing stations, able to work all stations, stepping up and showing the Chef, or Sous that you are in it for the long haul, and more capable than just pumping out service on the line? Also, I know a paycheck is a paycheck, but if you are in a place that isn't up to your standards, you are selling yourself short. If it isn't up to your standards, you are compromising your ethos. If it is not a place that you are proud to be at, or a team that you are proud to be part of, it is going to reflect in your work.

There's no real short, quick, simple answer. . . it's basically this: Do you want more debt, or, do you plan on getting into more of a corp style environment where that paper is "Mandatory", like a Cruise ship, or Resort setting (but even then, it's not mandatory though they state "preferred"). . . the time into schooling is time that you could continue in the field. The industry teaches you how it really works, schooling teaches you technique and fundamentals. . . BUT, so can working for a good/GREAT Chef, and then you are essentially getting PAID to learn/hone your craft.


Edited by 808JONO202 - 11/24/12 at 7:21pm

~If you are what you eat, I am cheap, fast, and easy.

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~If you are what you eat, I am cheap, fast, and easy.

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post #4 of 6

11 years is quite a while, but it depends on wha type of places were you in  for the 11 years. If your talking fast food that's ok. If you are tallking upscale cuisine white tablecloth, that's much better.School  may help but nothing can even come close to experience on the job. I do not know what kind of places you were in so it is hard to suggest to . But aim for the top.and good luck to you

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #5 of 6
Stew, there is no right answer. I am crawling out of a similiar position...

I paid my way to an art degree working in restaurants. Guess which panned out? Now I have debt on a degree im not using and 10+ years XP in an industry I slowly learned to have a passion for.

Over the years I got myself a servsafe, and my DoA cert for my state. About 9 months ago I got a new job, presented myself well, flashed my certs, and built a strong rapport with management, and recently became BoH management. Too much longer on the line and I would have fallen appart smile.gif

What may work best for you at this point is middle ground. Take some initiative and get some certifications. Food handlers or management safety certs are inexpensive compared to a degree and go a long way on the pay scale. Get positive face time with the chef or management, ask questions, learn the paperwork. Take an interest in more than the line, and be the best you can at that as well. A raise or promotion will come your way if you take some steps to earn it :3
post #6 of 6
also, even if your a line cook, after 11 years XP, you should be making much more than 9/hr... I'm in a horribly economically depressed area, and 9 is at the lowest end of the pay scale for line cooks.
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