The Argument for Culinary SchoolAdviser | Friday, October 22nd, 2010 | 1 Comment »
One thing that shocked me was that many prospective students and parents of prospects believe that you have to go to culinary school to work in the food industry. While I can see why one would bypass school and walk into the industry, there are many fantastic chefs that attended a traditional culinary school and made it.
How can you benefit by attending culinary school?
- Discipline is probably the most important thing that you will pick up in culinary school. By paying for time to practice in a kitchen under a skilled instructor, you are guaranteeing that you will have the chance to pick up knife cuts, saucier skills, cooking techniques, and cold food preparation. If you rely on learning from chefs on the job, they are going to focus most on their business and not you (the apprentice).
- Networking is something every college should promote and unfortunately, not all of them do. By going to culinary school, you open up opportunities by getting face to face with instructors (they usually have industry contacts), a career-services office to help you with job leads, and a chance to build contacts with your fellow students. If you aren’t the best in your class, stand next to the people that are, be nice to them, and get better at your craft.
- Advancement: A culinary degree is helpful but not necessary to work in a kitchen but it could be important for advancing, especially in the areas of research and development, hotel kitchens and operations, and corporate restaurants including groups like Lettuce Entertain You and Sodexho. Few chefs want to be on their feet in front of a grill late in their career so that degree can be your foot to bigger pay and less stress on your body.
Here are several established as well as up-and-coming chefs that attended culinary school:
Jose Garces: Kendall College (Amado, Mercat a la Planxa, )
Cat Cora: Culinary Institute of America (Iron Chef America)
Graham Eliot Bowles: Johnson & Wales (Graham Eliot & Grahamwich)
Michael Sheerin: Grand Rapids Community College (Blackbird)
Stephanie Izard: Scottsdale Culinary Institute – Now LCB Scottsdale (Girl & Goat; Top Chef)
Keep in mind that not all culinary schools are created equal. Find the schools that offer the most hands-on opportunities in the kitchen, have a good name and reputation, as well as a strong alumni list.
If you are uncertain if you are looking at the right schools, email firstname.lastname@example.org for your consultation.