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Old 10-25-2009, 11:30 PM   #1
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Career advice please (for a newbie)

Hi everyone, new at this board. I have a question for you guys, hopefully you can help. I'm currently enrolled in a computer science program that I just don't have my heart in. I've always loved cooking and have decided to work as a cook. I've applied to a culinary school an am waiting to hear back from them. What are your thoughts on culinary programs? If I decide against going there, how does one get a decent cooking job without the education? Thanks.

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Old 10-26-2009, 10:25 AM   #2
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You start working in a kitchen and work your way up through the brigade...
I went to cooking school last year, decided against going back to finish this year because after working in a restaurant as a prep cook, the first semester, I discovered that I can't really stand on my feet that long on concrete. The people at the school were incredibly rude as well. It was a community college culinary arts program that was located in a small town. The instructors had no teaching experience and used sarcasm and bullying as their primary teaching strategies... it's a new program that has promise, but the folks running it had no clue how to teach, how to meet their students' needs, how to work with a variety of learners. They may have lots of "real world" experience, but their overall rudeness really ruined it for me. They have enough stupid 18 year olds willing to put up with their BS to make the program loook successful on paper.
I would recommend that you work in a kitchen somewhere, then determine what part of the hospitality operation really appeals to you the most. Lots of cooking jobs are tough, hard work, that don't offer much financial reward until you've built up experience and expertise.
Depending on your age, and your willingness to travel, many culinary schools offer placement services. Check out their track record on placing graduates in jobs.
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Old 10-26-2009, 10:54 AM   #3
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don't know where you are located or what program you have applied for, but a culoinary education should give you the skill and knowledge level to get a job and move up as positions open. (It does not give you the right to tell the chef he is a loon and that you know more than he does, even if you do and he is.)
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Old 10-26-2009, 12:03 PM   #4
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Thanks for the advice. I've been reading the eggbeater blog by Shuna fish Lydon and her advice for finding a career in cooking. She did not go to culinary school, but worked her way up in the field. With culinary school costing upwards of 7 grand per quarter, I'm not entirely sure what the right path would be. I already have a bit of loans hanging over my head from my college education so far, so I'm uncertain whether I want to head to the school.

I suppose my main concern is the quality of job one can expect by having no experience as opposed to the quality of job one may expect with a culinary education. Any advice?
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Old 10-26-2009, 12:10 PM   #5
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I have a friend , who's daughter went to culinary school and now she cannot find a job as a chef. And I know a guy who started as a diswaher in the kitchen and now he is working as a chef there. it is hard to tell. I agree that trying out in the kitchen might give a better idea if this is something you want to do for living. The one thing for sure, unless you make it big, I mean, really big, like Emrill or RR and a like you are not going to be swiming in money, you'd be making simple living, if that. And if that the case you better really love what you are doing, because cooking is a hard, hard work. Much harder than a programer.
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Old 10-26-2009, 01:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brejchamon View Post
Hi everyone, new at this board. I have a question for you guys, hopefully you can help. I'm currently enrolled in a computer science program that I just don't have my heart in. I've always loved cooking and have decided to work as a cook. I've applied to a culinary school an am waiting to hear back from them. What are your thoughts on culinary programs? If I decide against going there, how does one get a decent cooking job without the education? Thanks.
Many (most legitimate programs) culinary schools will not accept you without at least six months of kitchen experience. This could be dishwashing, but before they take your money and commit to educating you, they want to know that you have a clue what you are getting into.

Cooking professionally is about as close to home cooking as Swimming the English Channel or the Hudson River is to taking a bath. Seriously, kitchen work is hard, hot and requires LOOOONG hours. 60 hour weeks are "ordinary," and 80 hour weeks are not at all uncommon. The glamorous looking tv chef positions are only for a teensy percentage of chefs working in the US today.

So if you are serious about becoming a chef, you should first go get a job in a professional kitchen and become familiar with what the job you are interested in really entails.
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Old 10-26-2009, 01:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
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I suppose my main concern is the quality of job one can expect by having no experience as opposed to the quality of job one may expect with a culinary education. Any advice?
Without a culinary education you can expect to start at minimum wage. WITH a culinary degree, you can expect to start between $8 and $10 per hour, depending upon your market.

The odds are better for you just working your way up.
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Old 10-26-2009, 01:11 PM   #8
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...

Cooking professionally is about as close to home cooking as Swimming the English Channel or the Hudson River is to taking a bath...


Awesome comparacing.
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Old 10-27-2009, 01:39 AM   #9
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Many (most legitimate programs) culinary schools will not accept you without at least six months of kitchen experience. This could be dishwashing, but before they take your money and commit to educating you, they want to know that you have a clue what you are getting into.
Think they will take 6 years working in fast food restaurant, working my way up from a crew person when I was 15 to a minor managerial position within 3 months, to one of the all around shift managers within the next year and forward?

I've had my fair share of 12 hour days, uncooperative crew, irate customers, delayed and incorrect orders.
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Old 10-27-2009, 06:15 AM   #10
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If you've already applied to their school, then I would think you have already talked to the folks there and know the answer to your question.
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