Is it too late for a guy in their mid- or even late-thirties to go to culinary school?

  • Posted by: Marc
  • April 5, 2016


ChefJune April 8, 2016
Definitely not! I know folks who started out in their 50's. But I would recommend you work in a restaurant kitchen (even if you just volunteer or wash dishes) before you invest any time and money in a culinary education. You may find you can apprentice with a chef for free...
BerryBaby April 8, 2016
My favorite motto is "It is never too late, to be what you might have been".....go for it! Passion doesn't have an age.
Farrah April 5, 2016
I recommend reaching out to the culinary schools (try the admissions departments) you are interested in, and asking to be connected with any current students who may be able to share perspectives on their experiences. This could be over email or coffee, if local. If you ask the right questions, you'll get a sense of the demands, specific school culture, post-graduation expectations, etc.

All the best to you!

Voted the Best Reply!

amysarah April 5, 2016
No. I know someone who went to medical school at around 40, including internship, residency, etc. She's done extremely well. In some ways it was probably harder, but she also brought to it a maturity and self awareness you simply don't have at 22, which is hugely helpful in any new or difficult life path, whether cooking or birthin' babies.

I'm also not assuming you necessarily want to use that training to be a restaurant chef (many other paths, e.g., private/corporate chef, specialty shop, recipe development/writing, etc.)
Karen B. April 5, 2016
Never too late to pursue a passion. My sister-in-law was an executive chef in New York and Newport. She attended a short course at Le Cordon Bleu in France. Just pick a course (or courses) that matches your interests.
pierino April 5, 2016
No, it's not too late if you are physically fit enough to lift oversized pots of stock and screaming hot pans that are heavy and apt to spill. It's hard work. You can possibly take an in-between path by attending single subject classes. Some of the better schools do offer this. I used to attend day long weekend classes when I was traveling. I'd pack an apron and knife bag and when possible set up my station right next to the chef instructor. Once you have a state food handler's food certificate, which is really easy to do, you can go out and work and take your food knowledge with you.
fearlessem April 5, 2016
There is a real debate over whether it is ever a good idea to go to culinary school, given the price of the education and the very low pay that most people earn after it (often only negligibly if at all better than chefs who did not go to culinary school). Here is a very thorough article presenting both sides of the argument from Lucky Peach: And here is an interesting discussion of the issue, a podcasts with several chefs talking about their thoughts / experiences...

Just be sure if you make that choice you are making it with your eyes wide open.
Smaug April 5, 2016
I have my own doubts about culinary schools, but one would hope that a few people still pursue education for purposes beyond a pay check. In vain, perhaps, but one would hope.
mia April 5, 2016
Let’s be a little more specific here. It’s never, ever too late to get any kind of formal education. As long as you’re healthy enough to perform all the tasks the program entails. The real question here is: Is 30-something too late to start a culinary career? This is assuming the reason you even want to go to culinary school is to eventually become a chef.
You should keep in mind that you are really starting from the bottom of the ladder as “the new guy” in the kitchen. Your age won’t entitle you to anything. You’ll have you to earn your way up from doing menial tasks and all the things in the kitchen that no one above you wants to do, like washing monstrous piles of dishes.
If you have the endurance and drive to go through with a whole lot of trouble to get where you want to end up, then by all means go for it. There’s a great article that discusses it in much more detail here:
Good luck!
Sarah E. April 5, 2016
This is going to sound corny, but oh well—it's never too late to follow your passions! The oldest person I've met still going through culinary school was in their late 40s. They had already had a completely unrelated career and decided just to go for it. And good thing because he was very talented!
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