Tips for Going to Culinary School
Whether you’ve been glued to cooking shows and experimenting in the kitchen since childhood, stumbled into an interest in food while working in a restaurant or have come to your love of cookery later in life, being accepted to culinary school is thrilling.
You probably know that even what looks like the glamorous life of a celebrity chef is full of hard work, and you’re ready for that. However, the tips below may help you better prepare for the challenging but exciting time ahead of you.
Figure Out Your Finances
Culinary school isn’t cheap, and in order to stay focused on the kitchen, you should make sure you have your finances in place. You may want to take out private student loans to cover your tuition and other costs.
While traditionally you went to banks or credit unions to get private student loans, the number of online lenders is growing, and the process can be quick. The good news is that if you still want to work in the food industry after you graduate, a culinary school education opens many doors for you.
Prepare to Clean
While your head may be dancing with thoughts of creating exquisitely modern food creations or decadent French feasts, the reality of cooking professionally is often much more prosaic. You may be surprised to learn how much your instructors prize cleanliness and organization.
If you’re a messy home cook who tends to fling sauces around and end the evening with a sink full of dishes, you might want to start now training yourself to work less chaotically and clean as you go. Organization also includes learning the importance of mise en place, or having all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start cooking.
Forget What You Know
You should carry your passion for food into school with you, but keep in mind that you may have to relearn some techniques or habits, even if you learned them from a cookbook or they were taught to you by a beloved family member.
Keep in mind that there might be a number of reasons for this, including the fact that the needs of a professional kitchen are very different from that of a home cook. Stay open-minded and try to take any criticism in the spirit of ultimately making you better in the kitchen.
Culinary school is not the final step on the journey to becoming a chef but the very first step. It prepares you to essentially start at the bottom in a professional kitchen. Furthermore, restaurant work is fast-paced and stressful, even more so than your classes.
However, whether your dream is to work in one of the world’s top kitchens one day or to run your own little restaurant, you shouldn’t let any of this discourage you. Even the most elite chefs had to start at the bottom. Culinary school gives you an excellent grounding in knowledge and techniques that will be invaluable as you rise through the ranks.
Keep in mind that not everyone walks out of culinary school and a restaurant kitchen either. You might instead work as a cookbook writer, a caterer or a private chef.