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Culinary School, what is the benifits?

post #1 of 2
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    I worked in a kitchen since I was 17, I am now 26. I gained most of my experience at an Italian restaurant, cooking basic Italian dishes for 6 years.  I managed the kitchen at the age of 19 after the lead chefs quit, I seen the oppurtunity to gain alot of experience and volunteered to do so when the owner was going to shut down and take inventory.  I was ambitious, passionate, and knew the style and recipes like the back of my hand by this point.  So I worked 6-7 days a week, 14 hours a day, for 9 months straight running the kitchen, ordering inventory, watching payroll, sales, discussing new menu items with the owners, etc.  I was of course demoted when a more qualified on paper chef would come along to manage the kitchen, which was fine by me. I learned alot from different chefs over the years but I watched them come and go more then I can count, was with that restaurant long enough to watch the entire staff change out fully at least four times and transition through two different owners completely. 

    My pay varied depending on sales really, slow season I would offer to go lower while vice versa during busy season, would switch from salary to hourly and so and so forth depending.  I just enjoy making great food, and making food look great. Sadly I was powerless to do anything as I saw the family owned business go from fresh ingredients, cook to order food, to everything being ordered in cans, dry ingredients, simple mindless diner cooking with no passion, over priced menu items, along with popular classic cook to order dishes taken from the menu do to being "to complicated" for the new kitchen manager which was family to the owners. The crew still saw me as lead in the kitchen, but the new kitchen manager and owners would not listen to my suggestions for the menu or advice for the business. Sadly it recently shutdown, and probably for the better...there was no more passion or pride in creating wonderful dishes and the place had become dull.  I have gained alot of experience over the years in that restaurant, I have worked on my knife skills and advanced my knowledge of food but I know I can always learn more about cooking.

   So what exactly would culinary school bring to the table? I have experience in a little bit of every aspect of cooking, but I would always like to learn more and I would like to make more money while staying passionate about food.  The first owner gave me a book for my second Christmas there called the Silver Spoon, this inspired me all the more. I wanted to go to college for Computer Science but I realized tonight that it wouldn't be what I actually want to do. I love making food, so I have to ask if culinary school is worth the payoff?


If you read all of that thank you for your time XD

post #2 of 2

To answer your first question, culinary school brings to the table what you want it to. It depends on which school you choose as the curriculum is not the same in every school. It also depends if you want a certification or what kind of degree you want. Study what schools are in your area, visit them, talk to the people there, and consider your financial factors. Don't believe everything the student advisors tell you right off the bat but ask any students or alumni if you can. They will have the best knowledge as they are most familiar with the school and the instructors. I as a person cannot tell you what it will mean to you as I don't know what is important to you. It is best to know everything you can before you sign yourself up for what could turn into a massive debt. (Assuming you will be paying out of your own pocket.) School isn't a cakewalk (even if you have experience) and it will affect your ability to work as often as you might need to to make ends meet. I can honestly say that I write and read way more than I cook since I started school, which may have a  different kind of knowledge base than what you already have. You are already on the right track by asking around. Continue to do so as much as you can. Always, always, always consider the tuition cost in this decision. That's my best advice.


Just my own personal thoughts though... Perhaps you never got the chance to have a higher position where you were. It might have just been the place. Before you make any major decisions like this, you could try your luck somewhere else and see if you can do without going to school. If you do go to school though, despite the debts, I honestly feel like it is the best decision I have ever made. I love my school, classmates and instructors. I feel like I couldn't have learned all that I have learned without them. In the end though, only you can decide if it is worth it or not. 

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