Should I go to Culinary School?

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Answered by: Jessica, An Expert in the Cooking Schools and Classes Category
The decision to enroll in culinary school is an important one and something that will effect your life academically and financially. The first (and most obvious) question you want to ask yourself is "What kind of job do I want to get out of this?" There are many things you can do after graduating, and it is not limited to the kitchen at all. Food writers, restaurant owners, food photographers, line cooks and aspiring chefs all have a place in culinary school. The more well-rounded you are, the more in-demand you will be in your field.

There are many chefs out there who did not go to culinary school and have made it in the industry. That is true, but you better be working in a kitchen now and making serious contacts. You also should have an incredible natural talent and be able to pick up new information naturally without trying too hard. Culinary School builds your skills from the ground up. Yes, you will have to sit through classes on food safety and how to chop onions, but once you can master that, everything else feels like a natural progression. Your chef instructors will become invaluable contacts in a very competitive world an that is almost worth the tuition alone.

Before enrolling you must go visit the school. Talk to advisers, talk to students, talk to anybody! If the school if worth your time then they will treat your questions as important. Tour the kitchen and classrooms. You do not want to shell out $20,000 or more only to be working in a space smaller than your kitchen at home. Research the chefs as well. You will learn best from those who have held the position as an executive chef for at least a few years. They have probably climbed the ladder themselves and worked many different jobs in and out of the kitchen.

If you decide to enroll, here are some tips for just starting out...

- Go to every single class. Classes are usually about 5 hours long and if you miss one day, you will miss so much. There really isn't any such thing as extra credit or makeup work, so attendance is crucial.

- Volunteer at events, even if you are just washing dishes. This shows your humility and desire to work hard. The Chefs will notice it and your character will really shine through.

- Do your homework. This kind of goes along with the attendance thing, The Chefs do not have the time to hold your hand and make sure they go over every word in a book or every technique. You have to take some responsibility and work on your own,

- Do not be afraid. I know I was a little bit when we first started cooking, I worried I wasn't as skilled as I thought, or I'd burn the place down. But, in reality everyone else was a little nervous too, and once we all realized it, everyone calmed down.

So, hopefully this helped aid your decision making process. If cooking is your passion, never stop doing it. Even if you decide Culinary School is not for you.

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