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Jun 20, 2013 03:47 PM

Apprenticeship vs. Culinary School...a point of view

Intersting OpEd piece from the LA Weekly on the benefit - or not - of a pricey culinary education

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  1. :nodding: I graduated from a local culinary school back in the '90s. I was already in the business, and the certificate gave me a leg up in being promoted to management. I often wonder, though, just how many of my classmates are still in the business -- or if they ended up going into the business (many of them wanted to jump start a second career).

    Apprenticeship is time-honored and pragmatic. Given that a lot of young people are pushed to make the big bucks, I wouldn't be surprised if many of them would turn up their nose at being on the low end of the pay scale in such a situation.

    1 Reply
    1. re: xo_kizzy_xo

      It's only the low-end of the pay scale if you forget to add in the cost savings of a culinary program.

    2. We do have state technical high schools and regional technical schools where students can choose to take a culinary arts curriculum starting at age 13, e.g., (or an agricultural one, automotive, etc.) Over those four years they receive not only the cooking and food safety school credits, but they also prepare the food for the rest of the students and also have the opportunity to compete in statewide competitions, Plus they receive the academic credits they need to achieve a regular high schook diploma.

      1. This subject of culinary schools and the big student loans and little pay after graduating reminds me of the broadcasting schools of a few years ago.

        The kind of kid that used to want to be a radio announcer might be the same kid that now wants to be a chef. Both kinds of schools take the kids' money whether they have any talent or an affinity for being on the radio or being in the kitchen and then if they place them in a job, it's usually for little pay.

        I know a few young women who went to 'fashion school', have huge student loans, and now work at The Gap.

        Years ago, I remember girls going to 'travel school' so they could work at a travel agency. I'm sure there's no such thing as that kind of school anymore because there aren't too many travel agencies either.

        Although I'm not in the food industry, I think the best way to get a job as a chef is to start working at a restaurant at the bottom and work you way up.

        1. And what is the career goal 10, 20 years down from now.

          How diligent will you be to spend evenings (mornings) studying, not reading, the cook books of master chefs?

          Will you try to understand food chemistry or trust to luck.

          Do you see yourself years from now owning a fabulous resto in a resort city, or cooking in a run of the mill kitchen?

          It seems to me that the curent resto trend is to use food chemistry to concoct new dishes.

          Soo. If you see yourself making food that others have given you recipes, apprenticeship is the answer.

          But if you want to be a creative chef, go for a top flight culinary school or college. You'll need to learn organic and inorganic chemistry, math up to differential equations, and the like. O'wise, you can do your best, hope for the best from an apprenticeship, and go from there.

          Good Luck

          1. I know chefs who have worked their way up, gone to
            culinary school and done both. To me, anyone who thinks
            they want to work in the industry should do so for a year or so to see if they can put up with the hours, the phsyical demands etc. before putting out big bucks for culinary school.

            Our local community college offers what seems to be a
            pretty strong basic program but does not provide the
            prestige of the big name, big $ programs. On the other
            hand, I know chefs who prefer not to hire grads
            from the latter because they often come
            with "attitude" and expectations of high salaries and
            quick promotion through the ranks.