I'm going on 28 yrs old this march. I've been in the restaurant industry for 11 yrs. should I take the leap and go to school?

It's really all I've done. Never worked in another industry. It's almost like I got sucked in, which really isn't a bad thing. I enjoy the fast pace, multitasking, the different people you met. I feel I did my best to learn when people where willing to show me. But anymore it's like they show something and have me go do something else, so I never really get to apply it. I feel just kinda suck doing the same thing everywhere I go, but not really learning anymore. I have been throwing around the idea of culinary school for a few years, but have been kinda scared away due things I've heard about low wages, and not being hard to pay off debts. I come to terms with I'm gonna be this for majority of my life, and was wonder if it would be a good idea for someone like me to go to school? Just looking for some advice.

Kyle Burden


dymnyno March 29, 2013
You sound like you need a goal chart and a solid plan. Many community colleges have excellent programs. The CIA is a fantastic school but expensive. I agree with the advice that you should take some business courses so when you get to a point that you want to open your own restaurant you will be able to write and present a business plan to potential investers.
Chefs R. March 29, 2013
There are some good schools in Seattle. Since you have cooking experience already, you might be able to take a test and jump ahead in the program, saving yourself a lot of time and money. I wish I had done that when I went to culinary school.

Another good alternative is to make a plan to work through some of Seattle's best restaurants. Talk w/ the chefs and see who will take you in to mentor you. Spend 1-2 years at 3 or 4 of the better restaurants and you will learn a lot, build a great resume, and save a lot of cash.
ChefJune March 26, 2013
I agree with going the community college route if there is a program within any reasonable distance from you. You might also look up the Apprenticeship Program the American Culinary Federation (ACF) offers. Here is their link: www.acfchefs.org/apprenticeship
Maedl March 26, 2013
By all means, try to further your education. Think of what you would like to be doing in 10 or 15 years and develop an educational program that will help you reach your goal. Business courses are extremely useful, if they don't bore you to tears. Use this time to expand your knowledge and experiences and see where it will take you.
Reiney March 26, 2013
Agree with Chef Ono. Try to be creative as well in the program you pick - community colleges tend to be much better value than the private schools (CIA included) given the likely return on investment. Also, be creative: I went to a very reputable school in Vancouver BC, where the program was only 4 months (culinary, another 4 months pastry) and cost significantly less than similar US-based programs.

You will be amazed at how much culinary - and, believe it or not, pastry work - will change your perspective. Pastry in particular will evolve your palate, plating technique and approach to culinary recipe development and technique.
ChefOno March 25, 2013

You have at least one major advantage over most people when they first become interested in a culinary career -- experience and the resulting knowledge that you're a good fit for the pace, pressure and hours. If you aspire to rise up through the ranks, school sure can't hurt.

Sam1148 March 25, 2013
IMHO...go into resturant management. The pay is much higher then a line cook.
SKK March 25, 2013
Forgot to add that in Seattle where I live we have dynamite culinary programs at our community colleges. And it always pays to invest in learning what you love to do.
SKK March 25, 2013
My nephew is a chef and went to culinary school and loves the life. And he paid off school and loves where is is working as well as the wages. Another young friend did not go to culinary school and he also loves the life. He is working in a great restaurant that actually pays people and gives health care. People are encouraged to take responsibility and keep moving up. A really great environment to learn. Pick your restaurant environment - they all aren't the same.
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