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