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Culinary school feels like a waste of time (rant)

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
So I'm going to my community college for culinary education and it's the traditional french cuisine deal most culinary schools teach. Working my actual restaurant jobs almost none of it besides the mechanical skills are really coming in handy. My chef at one job doesn't really do exact measurements or conversions(i.e, most things are by eyes or to taste) and as much as I hate to admit it being yelled at constantly by everyone feels more useful in developing my skills than my professor being all nice and polite and s***. Half the things I'm learning I could probably pick up on f****** youtube or just by working more

I need to finish the term just so I don't owe the pell grant back but g** d*** I already feel like dropping out.

Not to mention half of my coworkers are all Le Cordon Bleu graduates just doing dishes and s*** in the back making minimum wage while some dudes who don't give a f*** about their jobs are rocking the line effortlessly.

For f**** sake I know some dude who had a job at f****** Nobu and he just got it cause the chef liked him

What the actual f*** is the point of all this s***?
post #2 of 12

Welcome to the real world.  It ain't fair and at times it ain't even fun.  But it is what you make of it.  You might get along with it better if you calm down a bit and clean up your language... unless you are a sailor, in which case I would say "carry on".

post #3 of 12

Yes welcome

.

Please stay in school.

 

What you are supposedly learning is invaluable.

What you see going on in your job is what your instructors are trying to change.

 

The fact that one of your Chefs doesn't measure is just one of the many "problems" that exist in our industry today.

How can a Chef keep a consistent food cost under control when they do not measure or keep recipes? 

 

Really?

You think being yelled at is okay, and or better than the professor teaching you useable skills that will stay with you the rest of your career?

 

Hmmmmmm.

 

Perhaps restaurant life isn't for you.

post #4 of 12

@Mangofreak,

I have to agree with @Chefross on this. All those things that seem unimportant is exactly what you should be concentrating on. Trust the older chefs here. All that bla bla bla will be something you will need in the future. Once you get into a higher position you won't have time to run to your office and youtube everything you missed in school.

A chef/cook who cooks by eye and doesn't follow formulas is not someone I would look up to or even consider learning from.

Honestly, maybe you should drop and pay what you owe so someone else can have a shot at the grant. I'm not trying to be mean at all but I don't thi9nk you appreciate the gift you were given.

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #5 of 12

Mango,

 

You gotta remember that running a kitchen is a business, and in every business, every little thing counts.

 

If you stick around long enough, you will watch your "Chef" crap his pants when the owner asks him for an inventory, or to cost out a menu item. Everything is money: Cut a 8 oz steak at 81/2 oz and you loose money, big time.  Cut it 71/2 oz and you are cheating your customer, which will ultimately bite you in the butt.  Don't bother scaling out a recipe that has 2 lbs of butter in it, a dozen eggs and a half dozen yolks, and it flops, you loose money, big time.

 

You tube is great, but you can't ask you tube questions, you can only hit the replay button over and over again.

 

Since you are working, and have experience in the kitchen PRIOR to taking a culinary course, you are at a distinct advantage over all those students who have never worked in a kitchen. 

Milk it, baby, milk it for all it's worth, you have Chefs and instructors who will answer any culinary question you have.

 

School is like a piggy bank: What you put into it is ultimately what you get out of it. 

 

Use this experience to your advantage.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #6 of 12
I can tell you that I didn't attend culinary school . And yes probably most of the recipe canbe learnt through YouTube or on the web . In nowadays there are no such secret or hidden recipe just that people refined the recipe from old classic book . Unless you create something new yourself . There are pros and cons in every matter . You may graduate from culinary school but after all it all depends on how you use your certificates . Certificates is just act as a stepping stone for you to reach in better kitchen or make your résumé shine . And remember we don't work harder , we work smarter . You come out from school , you're about to enter the society . Some chefs just never follow exact measurement , but still the taste are still remained there . It's all depend on how you react in different situation . One more thing is you cannot blamed your chef for yelling at you . They want you to master this technique in the fastest time , they yelled so you will listen on what to do . If you want to know, my head chef yelled , at the same time pans flying and plates go into the bin . Im under one of the Jamie Oliver ex chef
post #7 of 12
So it's seems pointless huh ? Well my friend we all start somewhere and you are lucky enough to be getting a formal education so soak up every word & technique you are taught because at some point you will actually use these precious skills ! As these chefs have told you it's about controls and costs in a restaurant and anyone eyeballing is a Fool ! Money gas to be made & recipes consistent , without this you have failure on the horizon !
post #8 of 12

I've been thinking about going to culinary school for a while, but frankly, I just don't have the money. I get that the experience of learning within the environment of a professional culinary school is extremely valuable, but I just can't wrap my head around the sheer costs and how I would ever get out of the incredible debt that would come with it. 

 

Does anyone have recommendations for the best places to learn online from professional chefs (without spending a ton of money)? My friend just sent me a link to a new company called Salted - www.saltedtv.com - that has 50 "master chefs." I'm in their free trial period, so we'll see. 

 

Any other recs? 

post #9 of 12
I personally came up thru the ranks from dishwasher to executive chef but it took over a decade of hard work and dedication and I was fortunate enough to be taught by some of the best chefs in the business , hands in training is always the best in my opinion so if you don't have the money start in a restaurant and read practice read practice , Btw not one of the chefs at salt are masters ! Until you are Certified as a master you are Not One.. Good luck to you ..
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by iCorn View Post

I can tell you that I didn't attend culinary school . And yes probably most of the recipe canbe learnt through YouTube or on the web . In nowadays there are no such secret or hidden recipe just that people refined the recipe from old classic book . Unless you create something new yourself . There are pros and cons in every matter . You may graduate from culinary school but after all it all depends on how you use your certificates . Certificates is just act as a stepping stone for you to reach in better kitchen or make your résumé shine . And remember we don't work harder , we work smarter . You come out from school , you're about to enter the society . Some chefs just never follow exact measurement , but still the taste are still remained there . It's all depend on how you react in different situation . One more thing is you cannot blamed your chef for yelling at you . They want you to master this technique in the fastest time , they yelled so you will listen on what to do . If you want to know, my head chef yelled , at the same time pans flying and plates go into the bin . Im under one of the Jamie Oliver ex chef

 

 

A lot of red flags in this post, where do I start?

 

"Most of the recipe canbe learnt throughYoutube or on the web" 

Boulee-cheet

In order to learn, you have to understand the techniques, and You-tube/internet is onesided--you can't ask it questions.  You also have to master the recipie or technique, which means repetition--doing it over and over again. Just because I learned the techniques of a hockey wrist shot or a golf swing n Youtube doesn't mean I've mastered them,  I have to do it over and over again until it becomes muscle memory.  I won't do that by sitting infront of a glowing screen. 

 

" In nowadays there is no such secret or hidden recipe just that people refined the recipe from an old classic book"

 

Meh,  and the "old classic book" took their ideas from even older classic books, so what?  You need to understand the techniques and the whys and hows.  No sense in inventing, say a new braise, if you don't know how to make a decent stock.     

 

"Certificates just act as a stepping stone for you to reach in a better kitchen" 

Yes , exactly!  AND they also allow the HR or boss to pay you higher.  If you can get them, then do it.

 

"Some Chefs never follow exact measurement"

See my above post about his one, and the above posts from all the other Chefs (those who are responsible for running a profitable kitchen) on this statement.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #11 of 12

Hi foodpump, thanks for sharing your industry knowledge. We've talked a lot about food costs in my culinary classes, and I'm actually taking a food and beverage operations course. Incredibly useful and important class.

 

One of my professors is always asking us (students) to think about what we're preparing and how that food could be used in other cases. For instance, when we were chopping red peppers (to practice our knife skills) our instructor advised us how the end of the peppers could be used as red pepper soup. Rather than us throwing those ends out, she just shared with us a food saving cost tip! 

post #12 of 12

First, listen to @foodpump.  Ask him for more insight on why everything in culinary school is important.  I agree with everything he has ever said on this forum that relates to food, but not jokes. Hehe.

 

If you actually want to take this trade seriously, and actually make a living at it, then this "boring" foundation will serve you later, maybe not now, but it will later if you make any sort of moves.  Unless you plan on working in the same joint your whole life, or doing the same menu or same cuisine, you need to have a well-rounded background, know the kitchen jargon and soak everything in.  You may never know when you need this information.  One day you could be tasked with preparing a dish or a banquet and some confounding problem comes along that effects the quality or the logistics of the operation.  This base knowledge helps you solve problems and meet demands, and you do not have time to look stuff up in a serious kitchen. Time is money, you're paying for it now and so will your future employers.  If everyone speaks the same language across all professional kitchens and resources, that is efficient and useful.  It is no different than the exact medical terminology used by surgeons, no one wants to mess with guesswork when anything of value is at stake. 

 

Health codes are why we don't have monkeys grinding out repetitive kitchen tasks.  If you want to get paid, you need to have the game to make stuff happen.  Someone is always making the plan, giving the directions and keeping the boat on course, and they will always make more money than the linecook, no matter how good of a linecook he/she is.  I never gave much thought to the business math and stats courses I took, and then one day I had a lot of numbers off a POS system that I had to make sense of, and make decisions that could either cost or make money.   Good thing I had a clue already.  Your culinary education will be no different in this regard when it comes to the food. 

 

Ask yourself how committed you are to the trade, what you want out of life and this line of work, and if you know you won't end up wasting your Pell grant and be stuck where you don't want to be.  I can tell you one thing, if your CC program is as decent as the one near me, it could be a bargain.  My CC costs like $7k for the whole two years, teaches you all the basic cooking techniques, how to use most ingredients, a ton of baking, even beverage, the management level servsafe, you work in the college's restaurant the entire time, extensive kitchen math and business math related to hospitality and food service, and a management course for either beverage, kitchen or hotel.  Sadly it does not have butchery or charcuterie, but what do you want for less than a new Kia?  You can get some seriously great entry level jobs in hotels, which is the way to go in my city.  This could be free after Pell, and it may not be CIA, but you will get far off of just that.   If your program is decent, you may want to look at yourself and ask what it is that you want.  I've worked with old farts that never stepped their game up and are jaded ghosts of people still just working the line like a rented mule after 30+ years.  Experience without paper is hard to surmount this horrible fate. 

 

I can tell you from experience that if you want to keep working in kitchens, and maybe one day get out of restaurants, or work highly respected ones, get those papers.  I have been discriminated against for not having the culinary schooling for jobs I would have been perfectly capable of.  I cooked breakfast for 6 years and could not this one breakfast cook job, the only one I've ever wanted this badly, because that chef wants what he wants.  He wants to know that he is not going to have to explain anything or that I am not going to lop a finger off because I am persuasive turd trying to float.  I respect him for it too, he probably knows as well as I do that half the restaurant people in this city are not to be trusted. 

 

That piece of paper is a signal that the standards of the entire respectable parts of the industry say you can do A, B, and C, and you better be able to live up to it.  A resume, even a good one, can still say anything, and burdens the decision maker to follow up and verify these claims, and still guess at the veracity of the word of those people.  Many people do not want to trifle with staffing decisions.  That costs money, time and headaches.  The degree gives you options.  I will also say that you work with a higher caliber of person if you make the right moves.  I have worked with great people, but I have also worked with face-tattooed pill snorting level 2 sex offenders in dumps just to get through a winter until a better thing came around in the Spring. 

 

Anyone who thinks Youtube can help them reach chefdom, is kidding themselves.  It is the difference between give a man a fish vs teach a man to fish.  Really skilled cooks and chefs with a real background can make a dish they have never made before and do it well, off the top of their developed dome, because of their foundation, whereas a less clueful person would have to follow directions and may not actually understand why they're doing what they are doing, and thus cannot even apply or tweak this info in another instance.  I would also say that measurement is an important business factor.  If you are at home playing, eyeballing is okay, but you better have a good estimate what that eyeball was when it comes time to have a standardized and proper working recipe.  When it comes time to duplicate something, hone a recipe, and make money, you need to measure with precision, every time.  Money is important, and you have to keep costs predictable, but if your food is not predictable, you also lose money as you scare customers away.  Most people want that item the same way, every time.  People do not like surprises when they order their favorites.  People would usually take consistent mediocrity over only the possibility of getting something better for more money.  The customer is more important than money, because they are the ones that ultimately provide it, serve them well.

 

Take it for what it is but this is from someone who has done 12 years in many different restaurants without a culinary degree, now headed towards pursuing one.  There are not a lot of opportunities in my city to advance far without one.  There are so few excellent restaurants to go from a diner or casual into fine dining when the number of people with culinary degrees, and fine dining experience is so high.  Some people say "work for free" or "start really low on the totem pole".  That may work in bigger or better cities, but not here.  Dishwashers do not move up like I was able to where I grew up.  The few high caliber places here do not mess around.  I don't know where you live but think about how your career will play out based on the choices you make.

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