WanaBe a ChefTo cook or not to cook, that is the question

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Looking for a Culinary Arts Program?

If you live near any of the programs listed below(or are interested in living these areas while in school)click on the link to get free, no obligation information on the programs.

All the Best,

Atlantic Culinary Academy (NH)
California Culinary Academy
International Culinary Academy (PA)
The Cooking & Hospitality Institute of Chicago
Western Culinary Institute (OR)
California School of Culinary Arts, Pasadena, CA
Texas Culinary Academy, Austin, TX

WebFoodPros.com: WanaBe a Chef: To cook or not to cook, that is the question
By Xerochef (Xerochef) on Monday, June 30, 2003 - 11:23 pm: Edit

First and foremost, my hat goes off to all of the Professional Chef's out there, very demanding carreer. Moving on. I have worked at the same resturant for 5+ years, working my way up from dishwasher to my current position of "Sous Chef". Up until 5 months ago, this was just the same old job, making good money and being good at what i did, I didnt really see any longevity in it as far as a carreer was concerned. I <i>knew</i> what I wanted to do and this job was merely putting me through school. Then this straight off the boat Italian chef shows up at our door step after being the chef of an extremely more prestegious Italian Resturant for 12 years. He came in revamped our menu organized our kitchen with a fine tooth comb and just got everything running smoothly in general. Outside of this job, I have never had any formal culinary training and he knew this and up until this point my name and the title "Sous Chef" were never uttered in the same sentence, I don't consider myself a chef in any regard excpet that I can cook alot of Italian dishes which he has taught me. He suggested I go out and buy a copy of "The Professional Chef" published by CIA and read it, well I did. Thing is this stuff is interesting, the more and more I read i get sucked in a little more. I approached him about going to school for culinary arts and his input on everything, however, he studied at Coudon Bleu (sp) in France or worked there, i can't remember which, and studied in another French institute for 5 years.

Out of our entire line, 2 have gone to school and I am suprised they don't lop off a finger when the use a Chef's knife due to poor handling. He suggested that I don't go to school and that he would glady train me and teach me as much as I cared to know and that I would be better off, seeing how the other 2 students turned out I can understand his reasoning. So what is the input? Go to school or not? It's not like I dont know what I am getting into, I live in the resturant, I put in the long hours, I see my crew more then i see my blood family, and I am ok with that. I like doing what i am doing. I guess what it boils down to, is I have spent a fair amount of money already pursuing this degree and dont want my family to look down on me for changing my mind, giving the impression that I don't know what I want to do in life. I dont know, i guess i am just looking to here some advice from the people that actually do, the people that have Sous Chef and CEC on their jackets that went to school and spent the money. Let me know!

For those of you that are interested:
The chefs name is Hadi Bendali a CEC and (Rumored) Master Chef. He wont say one way or the other.

The resturant we work in is in the Warren/Youngstown area of ohio.

By Corey (Corey) on Tuesday, July 01, 2003 - 01:05 am: Edit

Both are good and bad, In the hotels I see school taugh people that can't do a mother sauce, and hand taugh that could keep up with a master chef. but, I would say, save your money, schools are fine for basics, but hands on gives you much more. I also see everyday people with a school certificate who could never survive in a live kitchen. and have to do basic cooks dutys untill they learn more. so, I think hands on real life training is better.

By Flattop (Flattop) on Tuesday, July 01, 2003 - 02:32 am: Edit

I'm dropping out of my program do to the lack of "teaching". Like most things in life I think it's mostly what you put into it though that desides what you will get back. I'm going find a kitchen that I can learn in. I'm changing my major to restaurant managment so I'll still get the degree as I feel it's needed(for me).But the real education is to be found in a working kitchen.IMHO

By Chefhdan (Chefhdan) on Tuesday, July 01, 2003 - 06:26 am: Edit

For what its worth, I've been getting a paycheck in the biz for 20 years now. I've learned more from chefs that are willing to train than I ever did in school. Most all of the education you can gain at school is available within professional books you can pay dearly for at JB Prince's website. The hands on stuff is learned best from a chef that will truly care about whether or not you're gonna be able to perform on Friday night than an Instructor who'll be putting a boot in your A$$ after a few months. If I were you, I'd learn every bit that I could from this guy right now and then get him to help you to move into the next step in your career after a few years. You'll gain the knowledge & the experience, all without the student loan.

Best O' Luck

By George (George) on Tuesday, July 01, 2003 - 08:31 am: Edit

Just curious, what are you studying for a degree in?

Cooking school gets you into the position where you can learn what you have been learning and get the experience you are getting.

Finish your degree (assuming that's what you mean by school) and see if you can add business classes if you don't already have them.

Do continuing ed at the CIA so you can say you have been there.

A full program would be a waste of time for you.

Al the Best,


By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, July 01, 2003 - 08:59 am: Edit

Good insight Doug, I agree w/ some of the views here. Keep learning, finish your present schooling, if you are really interested in Culinary school take some type of advanced or accelerated program or classes but, don't do a full program w/ the experience you are getting now. Culinary school is merely an enhancer when you are getting good experience.
If you were working at Friday's I'd tell you something different but you seem to be getting a good Culinary education at this restaurant; milk it for what it's worth. In the future they may pay for your "formal" Culinary education.
Keep learning and stay away from the culinary school grads!

By Xerochef (Xerochef) on Tuesday, July 01, 2003 - 12:15 pm: Edit

Thanks everyone for your replies and insight. In reference to George's question, I was pursuing a degree as a Computer Programmer.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, July 01, 2003 - 12:36 pm: Edit

Finish the computer programmer degree!
In case you change your mind, you won't have to go back and finish or start again!

By Snuffaluff (Snuffaluff) on Tuesday, July 01, 2003 - 03:14 pm: Edit

You'll make twice as much money as a programmer(if in the right company)

Maybe check out a community college, they aren't nearly as expensive and from what I've heard, you learn just as much. That's my plans for the fall anyways....

By Xerochef (Xerochef) on Tuesday, July 01, 2003 - 04:26 pm: Edit

Its not all about the money. I have held a position as a Webmaster for the local newspaper and while the money was good, it wasn't worth the headaches that I was subjected to. (Though it needs to be understood that the publisher hadn't the faintest idea about what and what isnt possible as far as the web goes) That and I dont want to sit behind a desk for the rest of my life sucking back Latte's and gaining 2 pounds for every 5 lines of code i write ;]

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, July 01, 2003 - 07:11 pm: Edit

Here's an idea, write a food costing program that does NOT make the end user put in all kind of useless crap.
Make it hold an inventory, place orders, figure out BI+P-EI=FC.....that's it, no BS and no variances!!!!!
You'll be rich, I guarantee it!!!

By Xerochef (Xerochef) on Tuesday, July 01, 2003 - 07:41 pm: Edit

ok, FC i understand as food cost, P i understand as Price but BI and EI? And thats not a bad idea...do i have to give you a cut for the idea? ;]

By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Tuesday, July 01, 2003 - 10:30 pm: Edit

Culinary school does not qualify you to be a chef. It only teaches you the basics and puts you on the streets to learn the rest. You are already doing that.

How old are you? I went to culinary school to speed up the process. It did. If you learn fast and choose the right restaurants, you don't need school. The titles come with experience.

Get your degree, use what you know from your school and your job to earn your living. Kill two birds with one stone and be happy. Good luck!

By Xerochef (Xerochef) on Tuesday, July 01, 2003 - 10:58 pm: Edit

Eh, I am still just a pup. 21.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, July 02, 2003 - 07:17 am: Edit

Sorry Doug, it's Beginning inventory+Purchases-Ending inventory=Cost of Goods Sold.
If you are really interested I'll be happy to give you some basic input (for a mere 2% of sales), just kidding...3%!!!!!

By Grwall (Grwall) on Wednesday, July 02, 2003 - 05:11 pm: Edit

I agree with the general concensus here. School is to learn the basics and you take it from there. I learned from the ground and got a pretty solid skill base. And I teach at a culinary school.

Point being, you already have the basics and a good opportunity to learn. Use it and read everything you can get your hands on. I sent you a message with a link to more of the cost management stuff Manny refers to.

By Snuffaluff (Snuffaluff) on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 09:27 am: Edit

I know it's not about the money, just making a point.
and I totally understand the web thing and the headaches caused, that's what I do right now too.
Damn good Idea Manny! as usual.

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