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Culinary school? Yes or no?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone! I am new to this website so please go easy on me for if I posted this in the wrong area or anything. 

I'm a High School senior in NY and after High School I was thinking of going to culinary school to learn more about cooking. But....I've been reading and people would say how it is worthless and the low pay after graduation. duh! You just got out, you're not gonna  get on the FoodNetwork channel right after you get out. You have to work your way up if you really have a passion for it. Even if it is low wages, if you really loved would work hard to get better and better each day and make your way to the top cause it doesn't happen over night. But when I read these makes me question if I'm like making the right choice...for one, I'm looking into this culinary school Institute of Culinary Education and I was wondering if anyone on here that lives in NY actually went there, I'm hearing good things about this school but still. All the forums that I am reading kinda makes me just wanna throw in that white towel with culinary. 

Any advice guys? Would really appreciate it. =)

Thank you & God bless! <3

post #2 of 15

I think that if you really loved cooking and had a passion for the industry "throwing in the towel" would not happen. 


Well sorry to tell you but its true. Many grads go into culinary school and enter in debt the moment they graduate, and what you will be earning will hardly be enough to make ends meet let alone pay off culinary school so quickly. 

Im not saying that a culinary school isnt worth it, because in many cases its what helps you get your foot in the door in the industry, along with the fact you will learn alot, but it comes down to how much you are really willing to invest. 


I prefer community college over those big names because at the end the curriculum may just be the same and their really are many good CC´s that are just as good as big name culinary schools such as CIA and LCB. 


If anything before you decide to pay for culinary school go get a job in a restaurant...

Get some experience, see how the industry works. Their is no point in paying for school, if after you graduate and start working at a restaurant you realize you hate it. Get a job first, work at a place for 6 months - 1 year. be it washing dishes, prepping salads, etc... see how the industry is, and how a restaurant works. Experience what many cooks experience daily, if you really do love the industry, you will be fine. 

Edited by KaiqueKuisine - 2/8/14 at 11:14pm

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.



Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.


post #3 of 15

That is excellent advice, KaiqueKuisine.

I did go to ICE many years ago when it was a very small school. I have remained in contact with them and have seen it grow a lot as well as becoming very expensive.

Absolutely get a job in the food industry. For one thing you may discover that you may lean toward one direction more than the other. Are you a pastry person or a savory cook? These are two very different areas in the kitchen.

Some kitchens are very well run, others are a disaster. However, they are all good learning experiences.

Start building a network.

School will help you learn technique which is very important in a culinary career. Schools can also set up externships, ICE has a terrific network of businesses that they are affiliated with. This in turn helps (though does not guarantee) with getting a job. They have job placement services and a board for alumni. Community colleges are much less money and if they can help you with getting extern or job placement than that is an excellent option.

That is also correct, the money is terrible. It takes a long time, if ever to make a decent living.

That said, if you belong in a kitchen you will know it.

Be humble, get a job peeling potatoes and get your foot in the door.

Best of luck!

post #4 of 15

I agree with the previous two posts, although I considered community or technical college but the ones in my area are terrible.  No one answers the phones, the voice mail boxes are always full, the schools have poor ratings, and the staff have very bad attitudes and are rude and unprofessional.  I think this is a direct representation of how my education would be handled.  The big name school got me.  They were organized, professional, and had their ducks all in a row.  I never have trouble reaching anyone, and my phone calls are always returned.  I don't see how the community colleges (in my area) would attract quality chefs that take education seriously.  It would be an embarrassment to be associated with the schools.  As for that reason, I'll be giving my money to LCB.  As a working professional with a Master's degree, I just don't have time for people that don't have time for me, and I especially won't pay for a disaster.  


If I had quality community colleges in my area, they would be my first choice.  Unfortunately I do not.  I believe in life garbage in garbage out.  You put crappy effort into school, you get crappy results.  I also know there are people in life that don't like their jobs, and could care less about educating students  For that reason, I think visiting the schools you are considering, and interacting with the people that will be directly influencing your career is priceless.  Talk to the chefs, admin staff, dean, students, etc.  Get a feel for how it truly operates.  You can get a crappy education anywhere. 


This response is more or less if you decide to go to school.  

post #5 of 15

Good point about the way you were treated at the community college. However...

I have taught at schools that were not so great. There was myself and a couple of other teachers who were really dedicated and passionate about our students and profession. I'm still in touch with my former students because of our bonds. There are some lousy teachers at good schools and some good teachers at lousy schools, such is life. If you were unhappy with the way you were received at the school then you should absolutely run.

There is also a very big difference between students who are just coming out of high school and older, career changers. Youngsters need to figure out everything in life including careers. The more mature student is usually more focused and serious about school.

post #6 of 15
@ChefMo That's true. I have a sister that teaches, terrible school, but she's a darn good teacher and no one loves the kids more than she does.
post #7 of 15

Gotta go with your gut feeling! Talk to as many students as you can! There are some technical colleges out there that are great! No need to spend 50k for a culinary school that teaches the same as a technical college might wanna take some advanced courses always check out the syllabi and compare! Remember it’s all a big money machine!

post #8 of 15

As indirectly mentioned above, school is about networking, nothing else.


If you can build a million dollar a year business off a $65k investment then it's worth it. If you are just trying to get a job in a kitchen, you're probably more likely to get hired without having gone to culinary school.

post #9 of 15
Which one did you go to, CIA or LCB?
Originally Posted by KaiqueKuisine View Post

I prefer community college over those big names because at the end the curriculum is the same and their really are many good CC´s that are just as good as big name culinary schools such as CIA and LCB.
post #10 of 15
Originally Posted by IceMan View Post

Which one did you go to, CIA or LCB?

Neither i spent the last 3 years in the industry... 

1 year of study at a school here in Brazil. Also got to do individual courses on culinary history, and vinho verde <_<. 


My first chef was a student here in Brazil, and after she completed her degree in culinary arts, she got chance to study in LCB on a scholarship. She said she didn´t learn many new things, but appreciated the time spent in London. 


My mother is a CC grad (she lives in New York), she got her degree 2 years ago as well. She is almost in her 40´s and has studied and worked with grads a lot younger. 


I have researched a lot about CIA and a friend of mine graduated their a few years ago as well, thats all i know about CIA the school seems great, doesnt mean the grads are the next best chef though.


I have worked with grads good, average, and bad who have studied in and out of Brazil. 

School is a great experience and i hope to get a 4 year bachelors in culinary arts sometime in my life, but i wouldnt go after a degree in this field without experience. 

A diploma is great and all but it doesnt make you faster, better, smarter or more worthy then anyone in the kitchen willing to work their ass off.

With or without a degree some people are great cooks and some people aren´t.

Edited by KaiqueKuisine - 2/8/14 at 11:24pm

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.



Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.


post #11 of 15
Thank You for that response.
post #12 of 15

Yep if you love cooking go for it although it's a lot of work but i'm sure you won't mind that plus time flies when your cooking, when i was at college i started at 9am and before i knew it, it was 4pm again so it's not so bad, as long as you've got some comfy flat black shoes then your feet won't ache that much, so it's up to you, if you think this is something you can see yourself doing and can stand yourself doing then do it. Your young and even me as 23 i have my doubts about everything, never really sure about what i'm doing and always ready to talk myself out of things lol but don't ever, i've stuck with it for the past year and a half and just talking about it is reassuring for me that if there is something i want to do it's this (although i wish i was a roadie for concerts lol i love the energy and excitement in concerts and i'm highly passionate about music but i'm not sure how i feel about being away all summer or all year). If you can stand being around food 24/7 then stick with it, i know i love food :P lol.

post #13 of 15

I was wanted to go to culinary school myself but always heard its not worth the i'm pushing 40 and with a family definitely not going to happen. I did cook in alot of restaurants, casinos and country clubs through my time and get a lot of experience that way which is sometime more valuable than i just learn more through a website which you can take a pro cooking course for less than a grand and earn a certificate of completion and its everything taught classic and modern in culinary school might wanna check it out, just my two cents!!!

post #14 of 15

You learn more on the job in a month then you learn in school in a semester.  And besides you get paid to

post #15 of 15
Originally Posted by ED BUCHANAN View Post

You learn more on the job in a month then you learn in school in a semester.  And besides you get paid to

Hmm... that's true as well like my year and a half in college they really stretched it out and i hate that but cooking is also about spending time doing it you can't rush it ether, i know these days people expect you to learn everything in a rush but having a deeper learning of it is much better but then the assessments during it that you have to cram in was a giant pain after they took away our Wednesday afternoon to do them to replace it with a silly lesson, the whole of Wednesday was honestly a waste of time but i had to attend to get my certificate anyway. You still need to spend at least a year in a basic course though to get into a decent apprenticeship otherwise you won't get in, so maybe a year in a basic course then go for the appropriate level? that's what i'm doing anyway although i wish i never wasted that half a year doing part time but it give me something to do really, not much is happening for me at the moment with anything. Apprenticeships usually have easier training than courses which make it far too hard and confusing and at the one near me your not aloud to take your work home to translate the questions into easier words because it's considered "cheating" lol, that's not cheating that's like saying thinking of thinks in a different perspective is cheating but your not aloud to do that ether, just all one-size-fits-all.

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