Welcome to DC! If you're thinking of becoming a chef, my advice is this: get a job working in a restaurant. Try it out for a couple months before you even consider becoming a chef. It would be a good idea to work during Valentines Day, Mother's Day, New Years Eve, Easter and/or Thanksgiving. Because in all likelihood, if you become a chef you'll work every one of those days!
I myself have worked as chef for most of the last 20 years. And tonite I just got off a 15 hour "Mutha's Day" shift. The garde manger (aka salad guy) got in a car wreck and missed the week; we ran a few guys short. I went in at 6:45 a.m. to get the brunch ready. After running my butt off all morning, I stood out front for five hours and carved. Then I got back in the kitchen with one hour to flip it for dinner service!
We then banged out 250 covers with three less cooks than we'd have liked.
Being a chef means a lot of very long days in a hot kitchen, with most of the day on your feet. 12 hour days are the standard, and during the holidays you won't get off so easy. Be ready to deal with a lot of unreliable help, especially dishwashers. In my years of chef'fing, I've had to pick up & take home several cooks on work release from jail. Easter weekends I've worked 18 hours days, got 2 hours sleep and been back for another 14 hour day.
Sounds great, huh?
So what's the upside? Well, you may love your job. Some of us get addicted to the "rush" of banging it out on the line. And you may have a lot of creative input. Be aware that it will take you years to get to be "a chef": you no more graduate chef's school as a chef than a doctor graduates med school as a doc. You'll have to pay your dues, but it can be rewarding. There's a "trench warfare" mentality in a kitchen, and you will come to love those who go to war with you every night.
Best way to see if it's for you is to get a job in a kitchen. The hours are long, the work is hard and the kitchen is hot, but keep in mind- that's the glamourous part!