Ever since Anthony Bourdain pulled away the curtains to the realities of the restaurant world, more and more people have decided to become a chef. It looks like madness working in a restaurant, but the way that he presented it certainly made it seem like an ideal career for those that like to live on the edge.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to work in a restaurant there is one big question that needs to be answered. Should you get a culinary arts degree? Is it worth it and will it give you an advantage when you are looking for a kitchen job?
In this article, we will go over some of the things to keep in mind before you go and spend a fortune paying off student loans from a culinary school.
It prepares you for the business side of being a restaurateur
If you plan on eventually opening up a culinary business, whether it is a restaurant, catering or bakery then you need to understand how the business actually works.
If you go to work in a kitchen, you will understand the working aspect, but to then learn the other less glamorous side, you will have to step out of the kitchen and learn from the managers. You probably won’t even have time to do this as you will be working constantly.
As opposed to when you go to culinary school and they actually have concentrations on many other things besides just how to cook different cuisines and techniques.
It doesn’t prepare you for life in a kitchen
You may have quite the repertoire of cooking techniques and recipes once you get your degree. And you may feel like you have paid your dues and can work in a high end restaurant. This could happen, but it is not likely.
In fact, many chefs won’t hire culinary school grads. Life in the kitchen is nothing like you can imagine if you haven’t ever worked in one. You will hardly be called upon to use any of the knowledge you gained while in culinary school. The first few years are grueling and you are tasked with the grunt work of the kitchen. It is not an exaggeration when people say they are expert potato peelers because of their time working under a chef. This is what paying your dues is.
The pay is terrible
Whether you are coming from a culinary school or not, you don’t get paid much to work in a kitchen. Sometimes it is barely above minimum wage. And that includes some famous restaurants owned by celebrity chefs.
Now, if you don’t have student loans to pay, it isn’t a big deal. But it can be quite stressful to have the added pressure of working for peanuts when you have rent and loans to pay.
If you have already worked in kitchens and understand this then at least you know going in. But, some are usually in for a rude awakening when they realize how much they will be paid.