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The CIA is the best for everything/anything whatever. End of story.
 

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The ACF is pretty much self teaching. Your education comes from reading material and enrolling yourself in cooking competitions.

The competitions pit you against a set of standards not another person.

The CIA is the way to go is you want to learn about the business.
 

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Sit down and make a list of cuisines and techniques that interest you.
Read a magazine article about a chef who catches your interest?
Maybe someone's menus have dishes on them you are drawn to?

After the list comes the how.
Get in to stage at as many of the places as you can.
Either drop by during slack time and ask to speak to the chef or sous or write a letter ( the kind you put in an envelope and buy a stamp for ;-) .
Include your cv ( short sweet and to the point ) and when in person try to show your interest and passion without having to get manic about it.
Go out to eat.
Save up if the place is a bit rich for your pockets.
If you still cannot afford it start dropping by the bar fairly close to close.
No more than 2 drinks and tip well.
Develop a fairly friendly relationship with the barkeep.
You never know....she ;-) may just ask Chef to step in when they get a second ( because they have someone for them to meet).

Yeah there are certifications you can acquire and yeah it can make or break you in a few situations.
But IMO it is more important to develop relationships with interesting, successful people in your chosen field of employment.
AKA your network.

mimi
 

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Thanks for the replies. I have a degree from a community college but I was just trying to advance my career to maybe a little bit better than what I have
Are you more interested in paper, knowledge (what kind? business end or cooking end), or networking? Prioritize your interests. That info should help in the decision making process.
 
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