PDA

View Full Version : culinary school?



papazaza
04-24-2012, 11:07 PM
i know this forum really isn't the place for this but with this many professionals in one place i figure this be the place to ask

have any of you gone to culinary school and if you have where and what would you recommend

and number 2 do you think its worth it to attend school

SpikeC
04-24-2012, 11:17 PM
There are a couple of threads about this here somewhere......

knyfeknerd
04-24-2012, 11:19 PM
don't do it. buy the last issue of lucky peach magazine(#3) for a really good explanation. IMHO it's not good to go into massive debt to make peanuts the first 5 years after school.

papazaza
04-24-2012, 11:28 PM
yea I've taken classes and I've been in the field for two years and I've learned more in the field then class

pumbaa
04-25-2012, 12:02 AM
I never went into debt or even paid a cent to go to culinary and now baking and pastry. If you find a good community college like the one here CPCC you can get paid to go to school. Through pell grants and the lottery funding I actually get paid around $1k a semester to go to school. I would never go to a high end school though.

Bkelly757
04-25-2012, 12:59 AM
Culinary school isnt all it's cracked up to be. I don't like telling people not to go to school because there are things you can learn that in school that alot of restaurants wouldn't think to take the time to teach you. I went to culinary school and ended up dropping out because i was lucky enough to get into a fine dining restaurant where the chef was all about teaching. At the end of the day IMHO it depends on how you learn best if you need the structure of a class room then go to school but if your able to learn on the fly and push your self then school will only delay your career.

Eamon Burke
04-25-2012, 01:22 AM
Don't go. Work.

ajhuff
04-25-2012, 01:43 AM
I can't tell someone not to go to school. I think post-secondary education is critical in a person's life regardless of what form that may take. I went to North Georgia Technical College a fraction of the cost of CIA, FCI, Art Instit. etc. And I might have a fraction of the education too, at least the fancy stuff. I got a good education on basics I think. It was a positive experience FOR ME. If anything, in the the end it was worth it for the networking and contacts made. YMMV.

-AJ

Crothcipt
04-25-2012, 01:44 AM
I say work. Having known many that went and I had to train them how to work on the line. But what Bkelly said also makes sense too.

What you don't know from work you can read in a book, or watch a vid. on the subject. Most people that graduate from a school still end up being a dishwasher when they first start. Most are even resentful because they have paid for it. There is only 2 schools I know of that when you graduate you get a chef job. Even then you have done some kind of apprenteship program at the same time.

You also can take classes as you work to fill in what you aren't learning from you job.

mhlee
04-25-2012, 01:45 AM
If you're going to go a school, go to a Junior College Culinary Arts program. Otherwise, work.

I'm not someone who's done it, but my friend is the director of the Hospitality Program at a junior college, who used to work at one of the for profit schools (that is now getting sued for fraud, false misrepresentation for falsely representing the wages that graduates could get after they got their degrees). He doesn't even recommend those schools. Too much money out of pocket for an "education" that is going to get you an $8 to $15 an hour job. The numbers don't work.

cnochef
04-25-2012, 05:02 PM
Work a year or two, then go to an inexpensive culinary college where you can learn theory and build on your work experience (I'm a fan of the schools that have intensive 1 year or less programs), travel the world while you're still young and do some stages under quality chefs, come back a hero.

Oh yeah, and make sure you buy lots of good knives!

hax9215
04-25-2012, 06:19 PM
CIA Graduate 1982, and I say BOTH-go to school and then you are prepared to work and learn. At graduation Ferdinand Metz told us an education aws like a good set of knives, you had to learn to use it, and I have heard litlle advice better than that.

Hax the Cook CLEAVERS RULE!!! :D

jgraeff
04-26-2012, 11:01 AM
i was working with two CIA grads at a high end restaurant here, they were cool and knew there stuff. however i was only 15 at the time, they were in their 30s and were only making 2$ and hour more than me...

basically what I'm saying is, that a culinary education is great, however it is expensive and without proper training it won't get you any farther. This industry isn't about making millions of dollars unless your a celebrity chef.

Id suggest like others, go to a decent culinary school, but not CIA or J&W because they will cost you a fortune. Id so go to a local place, and also work in good restaurants not a crappy place. Find a high end place and you may not get paid a lot at first, but just learn to listen and you will do fine. I personally think you learn 120% in the business than in school because at work no one cares about hurting your feelings, the chef just wants the stuff to get done and if its your job your going to get it done.

Also make sure you have good tools, spend a little extra on them and they will last you. Some decent knives, some people on here can help you, but also get shears, micro-plane, fish spatula etc. depending on where your working.

good luck

Duckfat
04-26-2012, 11:53 AM
I'm still the FNG here and don't want to offend any one but there is some really poor advice in this thread IME.
Even for some one graduating at the bottom of their class from the CIA/J&W making $2 more per hour is substantial. That's nearly 4K per year not counting OT. Even if those cooks stayed at that level for the rest of their career and worked from the age of 30 to 65 they would make $140k more, less the extra 25K the CIA or J&W costs over CC or 90K more than some one that just skipped school.
The one thing people seem to love to do is look at the cheapest CC and only factor tuition in their comparison. However if you consider that many will not be local when attending a CC the tuition alone is 10K. Add the room and board, books, fees etc that the CIA includes and in my area the cost difference is a measly 25K for a two year degree. If you graduate at 30 and work to 65 that amounts to a paltry $715 per year. Far less for those going to school in their early 20's. If you can't make more than that with a degree you should have just got a job at some chain restaurant making $8-15 per hour for the rest of your life.
No one (I hope) goes to school with the goal of remaining a line cook or working at that level for their entire career. The income disparity between those who go to school and those who do not grows exponentially as your position changes and with out a degree you will hit a wall for many positions.
I've said this many times on other forums. The investment you make in your education should be the best investment you ever make. Clearly you have to be motivated, be intelligent and work in your field of study for any degree to pay off.
The advice to skip school works for some but when you go that route you have to be lucky enough, or motivated enough to score a job with a truly skilled Chef that is willing to teach you. That is far harder than it sounds and you can easily end up several years behind a culinary graduate learning the basics of our craft or worse yet stuck working at a much lower level for the rest of your career.


Dave

cnochef
04-26-2012, 12:26 PM
Duckfat:

Here is the current CIA tuition:
http://www.ciachef.edu/admissions/finaid/tuition_newyork1213.asp
It is almost $15,000 per semester ($120,000 to do the 4-year program at Hyde Park, $60,000 for 2 years in Napa) and that does not include room and board, which according to their calendar is at $2445 per semester ($4890 per year) to share a room with 3 other students. That is only room, not including food and other expenses.

I'm sorry that is just too much to learn how to cook. You might as well go to Harvard and get an education that will really pay off. Their current undergraduate tuition is $36.300 a year, only $6,000 or so more than the CIA.

In Canada I could get a four-year degree at Western (aka Harvard of the North) and have plenty of money left over for an MBA or law school too, and $30,000 or so left towards expenses. Where I live that will pretty much guarantee you a career that pays $150,000+ a year. How many chefs earn that?

Education is a great thing but I don't believe that a CIA education will pay off for the vast majority of students, only a select few.

cnochef
04-26-2012, 12:48 PM
As an aside, and believe me I'm not trying to insult your CIA achievements, I would like to tell you that the humble college I graduated from (NAIT in Edmonton) had an exchange program with the CIA. We were all so intimidated until we discovered that we could cook circles around them because they spent way too much time in the classroom and not enough in front of the stove. That did not mean that we lacked theory either, because we had a far lower student:teacher ratio and our instructors spent a lot of class time at the stoves with us giving both theory and practical advice.

ajhuff
04-26-2012, 01:23 PM
The best answer is to work as many hours as you can in a kitchen, high brow or short order, and go to school at the same time.

An important and positive aspect of culinary school that no one has mentioned is the open opportunity to fail and fail many times. You can burn up a whole banquet worth of dinner rolls at school no big deal. You can mess something up every week even. Heck, it's part of learning. Not necessarily allowedin the real world though.

-AJ

Duckfat
04-26-2012, 04:20 PM
http://www.ciachef.edu/admissions/finaid/tuition_california.asp


OK my bad. I'm seeing roughly 62k for a two year degree with room, board, fees etc. So about 37K more than CC when we use a reasonable comp for room and board. That's just not that much money. Many of us will drop an extra 10K or more on a car with out even thinking about it or hundreds on a knife. Put in perspective and amortized over your career it's just not that much money. Something like 60% of all culinary school grads never work a year in the field. However those who will earn a lot more on average over their career after attending a University Vs a CC. That CIA/JW name can open a lot of doors and set your resume apart in a large stack when you start dealing with human resources and large corporations. It's hard to put a dollar value on but it certainly has value.
Every city across the land has the "best" culinary program out there. Leave that regional area and no one has probably even heard of it Vs the other schools that are known world wide. At one point Schoolcraft CC had six CMC's which was more than the CIA at that time but I'd venture a guess not many if any here have heard of them.
It always baffles me when others seem so surprised that a four year degree from a University costs more than a two year program. A BA will take you a lot farther and open a lot more opportunity. That's not for every one.
Either way I firmly believe that any education is lite years ahead of not going to school at all.
Harvard is probably a moot comparison as I'm guessing not many of us that could breeze through Harvard Law or medical school would looking at the culinary arts in the first place. The average student from those schools now carries a debt load of over 250K.
The hard part should never be deciding IF your going to go to school but rather deciding which school you should go to. The school of qvae nocent docent is a long rough road and IMO should only be a last resort.

Dave

eshua
04-26-2012, 05:10 PM
I think this also changes depending on where you live but, 120k is more than I spent on my first home.

Pretty sure I'll save more money between 30 and 65 by never paying rent again. If cooking is the most important thing in your life, and you want to move into a chef position asap then this is certainly an investment.

If your like me and love professional cooking, but also want lots of time with your family, running a community garden, and other nerdy hobbies, there are better financial returns on an investment of that size.

Also since I had this talk with a guy on sushi bar last week...Any culinary school that has gen ed requirements and doesn't make Spanish one of them should get crossed right off your list. lol

knyfeknerd
04-27-2012, 12:17 AM
I said this before, but have you read the Lucky Peach #3 yet????

MadMel
04-27-2012, 12:20 AM
I'm doing a culinary cert at LCB right now and also working. I would say that if you can afford it, go to school. AND work. Yes alot of guys may say you learn more from practical experience then sitting in a classroom, but there are definite advantages to have gone to school. More doors are opened IMHO, you may decide that you do not want to spend 12-16 hrs a day working in a kitchen and choose another culinary related career instead. If you have gone to school, that's where the boring hours in the classroom doing theory comes into play. Also if you are really dedicated and driven, it will take you less time to move up the ladder then just working.

That said, you have to balance your accounts and opportunity costs of going to school vs practical OJT. It is not worth saddling yourself with massive debt.

My 2 cents.

chuck239
04-27-2012, 06:26 AM
School is what you make out of it. By no means do you need to go to school to cook for a living. I was lucky enough to find a job in a restaurant and work my way into the kitchen when I was 15. When I was 19 I decided to go to the CIA. Yes, I spend a lot of money to go there. I worked 2 jobs (1 full time, 1 part time) cooking in the area throughout my entire program. I became a teaching assistant in between the AOS and BPS program. To be honest, this path worked very well for me. I have an excellent job with a great company. Without the education, I wouldn't be where I am at today.

But, school is what YOU make of it. I went to school with some people who are going to be very succesful one day and I also went to school with a ton of losers and D-bags who will never amount to anything. I have worked with people who went to school and were cocky because of it, they are still not doing well. I have also worked with people who never went to school and think they are a lot better then they are. Everything is what YOU make out of your personal situation. Is a bachelors degree important to you? Do you plan on doing anything other then cooking?

I worked outside of school the entire time I was in school, graduated top 5 in my class, and got a great job. Was I the best cook in my class? Maybe, probably not. No matter which direction you choose, be humble, listen, work hard, work a lot, take in as much as you can, and be humble.

Lucky Peach, awesome magazine, they don't recommend school. Yet, I know a lot of guys I went to school with working for David Chang. Also, go to Sam Bar and see if they will hire you with no school or experience. School can be used as a good gateway into the industry, you don't magically graduate as a chef.

Any education, Harvard vs Michigan, CIA vs community college, whatever it is, however much it cost, its what you make of it. Unless its "NAIT in Edmonton" then you can run circles around any student from the CIA. (sorry, but its funny that a school is no good because you and your friends THINK you were better then a few students from another school)

Sorry for my awful grammar and rants. All I am trying to say is that everyone has an opinion, usually based off of one or 2 situations they were in. Work hard and take in everything (good and bad) no matter what you choose to do. Good luck, if you have any questions feel free to PM me.

-Chuck

MadMel
04-27-2012, 08:55 AM
School is what you make out of it. By no means do you need to go to school to cook for a living. I was lucky enough to find a job in a restaurant and work my way into the kitchen when I was 15. When I was 19 I decided to go to the CIA. Yes, I spend a lot of money to go there. I worked 2 jobs (1 full time, 1 part time) cooking in the area throughout my entire program. I became a teaching assistant in between the AOS and BPS program. To be honest, this path worked very well for me. I have an excellent job with a great company. Without the education, I wouldn't be where I am at today.

But, school is what YOU make of it. I went to school with some people who are going to be very succesful one day and I also went to school with a ton of losers and D-bags who will never amount to anything. I have worked with people who went to school and were cocky because of it, they are still not doing well. I have also worked with people who never went to school and think they are a lot better then they are. Everything is what YOU make out of your personal situation. Is a bachelors degree important to you? Do you plan on doing anything other then cooking?

I worked outside of school the entire time I was in school, graduated top 5 in my class, and got a great job. Was I the best cook in my class? Maybe, probably not. No matter which direction you choose, be humble, listen, work hard, work a lot, take in as much as you can, and be humble.

Lucky Peach, awesome magazine, they don't recommend school. Yet, I know a lot of guys I went to school with working for David Chang. Also, go to Sam Bar and see if they will hire you with no school or experience. School can be used as a good gateway into the industry, you don't magically graduate as a chef.

Any education, Harvard vs Michigan, CIA vs community college, whatever it is, however much it cost, its what you make of it. Unless its "NAIT in Edmonton" then you can run circles around any student from the CIA. (sorry, but its funny that a school is no good because you and your friends THINK you were better then a few students from another school)

Sorry for my awful grammar and rants. All I am trying to say is that everyone has an opinion, usually based off of one or 2 situations they were in. Work hard and take in everything (good and bad) no matter what you choose to do. Good luck, if you have any questions feel free to PM me.

-Chuck

Dude you have just expressed what I had to say!! +1 to that!!

ajhuff
04-27-2012, 09:38 AM
Another thing to consider is that the culinary world is a big world. Generally I find people who recommend not going to school are people cooking in a mid to high end restaurant kitchen. But do you know what you want to do? There are a lot of other opportunities out there: corporate jobs, resorts, test kitchens, bakeries, cruise ships, vendors, personal chef, catering, institutions, etc. You get exposed to a little of all of it in school. In school you may find that you hate plated service but really enjoy banquet preparation. I unexpectedly found that I really enjoyed baking. I was also surprised to find that my favorite class was nutrition which was basically Personal Chef 101. You can get a lot out of school, but exactly as Chuck said, it's what YOU make of it.

And as I said before, don't lose sight of the networking. The dead beats in class will always struggle. But those of us that worked hard and were attentive, our Chef takes care of through help with job placement, special opportunities, introductions to important people, etc.

-AJ

SpikeC
04-27-2012, 09:46 PM
One other consideration is something that I have seen here in art schools. They are another form of urinary schools, where their real purpose is selling financing. My nephew was looking at a school for acting, and when the parents wanted to pay cash they ran into road blocks. My neighbors son went to the school with their financing and promises of job placement, he did well in school, now he is a clerk at the liquor store. With a load of debt.