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Is Culinary School Right for You?
Hcareers / OCTOBER 11 2021

One of the most frequently asked questions about being a chef is if it is necessary to go to a culinary school. It doesn’t come as a surprise because some experiences can be gained by working directly in a restaurant or kitchen, even before acquiring some formal culinary education.

So the big question is: “Is culinary school worth the investment of time and money?”

Do not fret, in this article, we will touch up all the details you need to know about enrolling in a culinary school. So if you want to learn more, you need to read on.

What You Will Learn In Culinary School

If you choose to overlook the regular restaurant recruitment and training to undergo formal training in a culinary school, you have definitely made a great choice. Some of the skills and lessons you will learn quickly in a culinary school are as follows:

  • Time Management: One of the major skills you will learn in culinary school is that you don’t have to wait until the last minute. If you have the opportunity to prep the meals some hours or days before the scheduled cooking time, you need to do so. For instance, you are most likely expected to soak the meat in salt water for a minimum of 1 hour in order to achieve an intense flavor. Time saved by prepping early will ease stress, as well as make it easier to achieve a perfect meal.
  • Hygiene is a virtue: In a culinary school, you will learn how to be hygienic in your practice. You will cultivate the habit of cleaning as you go. From quick cleanup of tabletops to trashing of wastes immediately, and washing of dishes immediately, you will learn how to be a good kitchen manager both at work and at home.
  • Sleek Knife Skills: One of the most important tools for a chef is his/her knife. This explains why culinary schools include knife skills as one of the first things to be learned therein. This involves learning the best ways to hold a knife, where & how to grip it, the rolling technique, the various knife sets, and which knife is perfect for the cuisine. Knife skills entail a whole lot more than this, so you should be ready to explore the knowledge.
  • Current & Old Cooking Methods: In a culinary school, you will be exposed to various techniques of cooking meals. You will gain knowledge and skills of how a meal was cooked in ancient times and how it is being cooked in the present day. This is particularly important because it helps you fit into any cooking environment, tending to different customers.

Culinary School: The Pros

Well Structured Education: When you enroll in a culinary school, You will learn in a well-structured pattern through classroom-based exercises. You will begin your learning on a small note, learning about the types of utensils, as well as the techniques involved in meal preparation. You will also be exposed to food sanitation, time management & prep procedures in the kitchen.  Culinary schools have a well-structured curriculum that will ensure you gain exposure and knowledge to both the theory and practical aspects of the profession.

Learn From Real, Experienced Chefs: One of the advantages of attending a culinary school is that you get to learn from experienced chefs. It is invaluable and of great honor to have access to (and learn from) experienced chefs as a student. Your culinary education program enables you to interact with several cooking professionals who have their unique styles, experiences, skills, and expertise. You will also be open to various mentorship opportunities which will aid you in building a solid career foundation.

Learn Different Cuisines: One of the major disadvantages of working/learning directly in the kitchen is that you will be exposed only to the style of cooking (and menus) available in that kitchen. The case is different in a culinary school. You will explore well-structured modules that focus on the various types of world cuisine. You will be exposed to regional seasonings and prep methods and how they can completely transform simple ingredients into classic cultural staples. This will enable you to work anywhere after graduation.

Culinary School: The Cons

  • Cost of Training is High: Do not be surprised that a culinary school’s fees can be nearly as high as an undergraduate degree. However, this depends on the institution. Sometimes, there can be scholarship opportunities for you to apply for. While there are scholarships available, most students don’t get 100% scholarships. Hence, you will need to save up enough money to foot your tuition or go for a student loan. 
  • The Schedule Can Be Demanding: Most culinary schools are full-time, hence, you might not be able to hold down a job. Although you can work on your free days such as weekends, you will be left with the choice of prioritizing your studies. Working in the kitchen for long hours is also tiring. While the schedule can be so demanding, the good news is that you can complete your culinary education in 30-60 weeks.
  • Spend Less Time with Family: While you are in culinary school, you may not be available for your partner or children due to the demanding nature of the course. If you are also juggling schooling with work, there will even be less time for you to spend with your family. This is one of the sacrifices you need to make, but you can create routines that will reinforce your bonds. 

Culinary School: Is It Worth It?

We can say attending a culinary school is worth the investment and time, considering the career benefits. However, you need to make a personal decision on whether or not you can adapt to the cons of the program.

We hope that this post has helped you in making an informed decision about enrolling in a culinary school or not.