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Old 04-07-2010, 07:34 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Does one need to go to culinary school to become a professional cook?

Hi,

I am not sure if this is the appropriate newsgroup to which I should
post, so please excuse me if it is not.

My question is simply whether one has to go to "cooking school" to
become a cook in a restaurant. I ask this question because I am
considering making a career change. I am a middle age mathematician
and I have the opportunity to cook at a small establishment a friend
of mine is opening. I am a good cook, very passionate about food, and
love to cook. He knows it, and is willing to put me on. Done the road
though, I would like to perhaps move on and I am wondering if anyone
will hire me without a proper degree? I don't have any pretensions of
trying to become a great chef or of being at a fancy French
restaurant: I mostly like to cook simple food well using fresh
ingredients.

TIA,
Peter

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Old 04-07-2010, 07:42 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Does one need to go to culinary school to become a professionalcook?

On 07/04/2010 11:34 AM, Peter wrote:
Hi,

I am not sure if this is the appropriate newsgroup to which I should
post, so please excuse me if it is not.

My question is simply whether one has to go to "cooking school" to
become a cook in a restaurant. I ask this question because I am
considering making a career change. I am a middle age mathematician
and I have the opportunity to cook at a small establishment a friend
of mine is opening. I am a good cook, very passionate about food, and
love to cook. He knows it, and is willing to put me on. Done the road
though, I would like to perhaps move on and I am wondering if anyone
will hire me without a proper degree? I don't have any pretensions of
trying to become a great chef or of being at a fancy French
restaurant: I mostly like to cook simple food well using fresh
ingredients.


Just do a great job cooking, and take some classes if you have the
desire. Classes might help you become more proficient at the basics,
etc., but lots of chefs became successful without cooking school.

Serene
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Old 04-07-2010, 07:46 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Does one need to go to culinary school to become a professionalcook?

On Jul 4, 2:34*pm, Peter wrote:
Hi,

I am not sure if this is the appropriate newsgroup to which I should
post, so please excuse me if it is not.

My question is simply whether one has to go to "cooking school" to
become a cook in a restaurant. I ask this question because I am
considering making a career change. I am a middle age mathematician
and I have the opportunity to cook at a small establishment a friend
of mine is opening. I am a good cook, very passionate about food, and
love to cook. He knows it, and is willing to put me on. Done the road
though, I would like to perhaps move on and I am wondering if anyone
will hire me without a proper degree? I don't have any pretensions of
trying to become a great chef or of being at a fancy French
restaurant: I mostly like to cook simple food well using fresh
ingredients.

TIA,
Peter


So go and cook. Look at the menu, talk to him about what's expected
and do your thing. Be prepared to bust your ****ing ass though. If
you're not working 'hot' then either the manager has too much staff on
hand, or it's not busy enough. If you want to work a high end hotel
later on, you should get some paper work; a cook's diploma/trade
certificate etc. High end hotel work is where it's at. As far as I'm
concerned that's the show. Restaurant work even at such high end
places as 'The Fat Duck' is nowhere's ville. When I was an apprentice
at a high end Toronto Hotel, the chef put me (and every other
apprentice) in the coffee shop first. He separated wheat from chaff.
The chaff blew and the wheat remained. The coffee shop was pure
hell. Brutal. But I liked it. When I got onto banquets (lunch time
small banquets) it was just as crazy. Two guys putting out banquets,
6 banquets and more at lunch. All different. All having to go out at
roughly the same time. And not much time to get everything prepped.
However it was somewhat prestigeous. I'm a machinist now, for the
money. I went for the money, but cooking was a much more satisfying
trade.
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Old 04-07-2010, 07:51 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Does one need to go to culinary school to become a professionalcook?

On Jul 4, 2:46*pm, A Moose In Love wrote:
On Jul 4, 2:34*pm, Peter wrote:




My question is simply whether one has to go to "cooking school" to



So go and cook. *Look at the menu, talk to him about what's expected
and do your thing. *Be prepared to bust


All valid thoughts Moose...but you forgot to add you might need to be
in the kitchen at 4AM on a regular basis...forget weekends/holiday/
vacation.......your personal life will be out the window.
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Old 04-07-2010, 07:53 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Does one need to go to culinary school to become a professional cook?

Serene wrote on Sun, 04 Jul 2010 11:42:28 -0700:

On 07/04/2010 11:34 AM, Peter wrote:
Hi,

I am not sure if this is the appropriate newsgroup to which I
should post, so please excuse me if it is not.

My question is simply whether one has to go to "cooking
school" to become a cook in a restaurant. I ask this question
because I am considering making a career change. I am a
middle age mathematician and I have the opportunity to cook
at a small establishment a friend of mine is opening. I am a good
cook, very passionate about food, and love to cook. He
knows it, and is willing to put me on. Done the road though, I would
like to perhaps move on and I am wondering if anyone will hire me
without a proper degree? I don't have any
pretensions of trying to become a great chef or of being at a
fancy French restaurant: I mostly like to cook simple food
well using fresh ingredients.


Just do a great job cooking, and take some classes if you have
the desire. Classes might help you become more proficient at the
basics, etc., but lots of chefs became successful without cooking
school.



Did Patrick O'Donnel ("Inn at Little Washington"), Heston Blumenthal
("Fat Duck"), Ferren Adria ( "ElBulli") and Thomas Keller ( "French
Laundry") go to cooking school? It's true that Keller was an apprentice
in France.

--

James Silverton
Potomac, Maryland

Email, with obvious alterations: not.jim.silverton.at.verizon.not



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Old 04-07-2010, 07:55 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Does one need to go to culinary school to become a professionalcook?

On Jul 4, 2:51*pm, "Mr. Bill" wrote:
On Jul 4, 2:46*pm, A Moose In Love wrote:

On Jul 4, 2:34*pm, Peter wrote:


My question is simply whether one has to go to "cooking school" to


So go and cook. *Look at the menu, talk to him about what's expected
and do your thing. *Be prepared to bust


All valid thoughts Moose...but you forgot to add you might need to be
in the kitchen at 4AM on a regular basis...forget weekends/holiday/
vacation.......your personal life will be out the window.


True. Much of the personal life comes from hanging around with other
cooks who work just as crazy hours. Also other trades/professions:
Nursing.
Also I had a job (machinist) where I worked 4:00AM to 4:00PM 5 days a
week. No weekends though. I think the guys on nights had it
rougher.
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Old 04-07-2010, 08:17 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Does one need to go to culinary school to become a professionalcook?

Hi,

I want to really thank everyone who responded. Basically, you
reaffirmed what I thought, which to me is great news!
I know that even in a discipline like mathematics, the bottom line is
that if you can do the job, have some demonstrable talent, and can get
results, you can get hired without much in the way of "academic
credentials". It's not easy, but it can definitely be done if one
wants to.

I do expect it to be very hard and demanding, but all I know is that I
want to do it. I love every aspect of food and what I don't know, I
want to learn. I am used to working long hours and strange schedules,
and I am in pretty good physical shape, so I don't see these aspects
of the job being roadblocks for me. The only thing of which I am not
too sure is my sense of taste: I *think* it is good, but when I hear
people like Gordon Ramsey say he can taste 15 different flavors in one
dish, my head kinda spins. I know my sense of taste will never be that
keen.

I am very fortunate as I am close by to a pretty good cooking school
(Midwest Culinary Institute) where I can take some classes to make
sure I am competent in the basics at a very reasonable cost. I plan to
visit some kitchens of some local restaurants and ask if I can also
observe to make sure that I have a realistic perception of what it is
like, if I can do it, and what would be required of me. I am also very
fortunate in that I can take a year's leave of absence from my job, so
if cooking as a profession isn't my dish, so to speak,, I can go back
to the exciting world of math. ;)

Thank you once again for the responses!

Peter
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Old 04-07-2010, 08:51 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Does one need to go to culinary school to become a professionalcook?

On 2010-07-04, Peter wrote:

My question is simply whether one has to go to "cooking school" to
become a cook in a restaurant.


There's are as many paths to cooking success as there are food dishes.
Start as a burger flipper when young, pay $30-50K for school,
apprentice for slave wages for years, buy a restaurant and sink or
swim, etc. Your options are endless. I think dedication and passion will
determine where you end up.

Is school necessary? I recall Anthony Bourdain doing an episode on
his former sous chef and now head chef of Brasserie Les Halles in NY
(Anthony's previous postition), a poor Mexican immigrant who came to
New York to become a cook. I think Anthony said he went from nobody
to head chef in 8 yrs! I don't remember any schools in the mix, jes
Anthony telling how his co-worker worked his freakin' ass off.

nb
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Old 04-07-2010, 09:09 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Does one need to go to culinary school to become a professional cook?

On Sun, 4 Jul 2010 12:17:44 -0700 (PDT), Peter
wrote:

I am very fortunate as I am close by to a pretty good cooking school
(Midwest Culinary Institute) where I can take some classes to make
sure I am competent in the basics at a very reasonable cost. I plan to
visit some kitchens of some local restaurants and ask if I can also
observe to make sure that I have a realistic perception of what it is
like, if I can do it, and what would be required of me. I am also very
fortunate in that I can take a year's leave of absence from my job, so
if cooking as a profession isn't my dish, so to speak,, I can go back
to the exciting world of math. ;)

Thank you once again for the responses!


Good luck to you!

--
Forget the health food. I need all the preservatives I can get.
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Old 04-07-2010, 10:14 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Does one need to go to culinary school to become a professional cook?

Peter wrote:
Hi,

I am not sure if this is the appropriate newsgroup to which I should
post, so please excuse me if it is not.

My question is simply whether one has to go to "cooking school" to
become a cook in a restaurant. I ask this question because I am
considering making a career change. I am a middle age mathematician
and I have the opportunity to cook at a small establishment a friend
of mine is opening.


Someone wiser than me once said that your schooling makes a difference
to where you get your first job, but your first job is what matters to
where you get your second.

-S-




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Old 04-07-2010, 10:36 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Does one need to go to culinary school to become a professionalcook?

Janet Baraclough wrote:

The message
from Sqwertz contains these words:

Experience and success is worth more than a culinary education.
What you have to be concerned about are the chances are that this
initial restaurant is going to succeed. Most don't.


Usually, because commercially inexperienced people underestimate the
high degree of professional skill it takes.


I'd guess it's because many restaurants are started
by people who know they can cook well, but don't
realize they don't know how to run a business.
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Old 04-07-2010, 10:45 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Does one need to go to culinary school to become a professionalcook?

On 2010-07-04, Janet Baraclough wrote:

Usually, because commercially inexperienced people underestimate the
high degree of professional skill it takes.


This has manifested itself in the fact that there are now so many
culinary schools, there is a surplus and graduates go a'begging. This
means existing kitchens and chefs need not accept rank beginners,
regardless of how cheap they are willing to work for. Many chefs will
not accept a newhires unless they HAVE had some culinary schooling.

I worked with a "cook" that had several years experience and was
already working part time for a celebrity chef (an Iron Chef USA
contestant) in said chef's restaurant. That chef advised this young
man go to culinary school, recommending his old alma mater
(Johnson&Wales, Denver). The cook went, claiming he'd never break out
of the cook ranks until he did.

nb
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Old 04-07-2010, 10:54 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Does one need to go to culinary school to become a professional cook?

Peter wrote:

I am very fortunate as I am close by to a pretty good cooking school
(Midwest Culinary Institute) where I can take some classes to make
sure I am competent in the basics at a very reasonable cost.


That's great. One thing I've noticed is that cooking school is
crazy expensive, then when you graduate, the pay doesn't pay
you back all that tuition money.

Best of luck in your venture. Or adventure. Sounds cool. This
is one field where results mean more than degrees.

nancy
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Old 04-07-2010, 11:04 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Does one need to go to culinary school to become a professional cook?

Nancy Young wrote:

That's great. One thing I've noticed is that cooking school is
crazy expensive, then when you graduate, the pay doesn't pay
you back all that tuition money.


Working chefs have to compete against vanity artists whose money
comes from somewhere else and who can afford the expensive schools
and low-paid positions. Trust fund babies in many cases.


S.
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Old 04-07-2010, 11:06 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Does one need to go to culinary school to become a professionalcook?

On 2010-07-04, Nancy Young wrote:

That's great. One thing I've noticed is that cooking school is
crazy expensive, then when you graduate, the pay doesn't pay
you back all that tuition money.


That's why it's best to attend a culinary program at a community
college or other state school. There are many.

nb


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