You may have learnt how to cook from your mom; you may have ensured many a scrape, cut and burn as you found your way around the kitchen; and you may be something of an expert in tossing together ingredients and coming up with your own recipes. However, if you aspire to become a chef, you must consider going to culinary school. A chef’s job is so much more than just preparing food, and only culinary school prepares you for the challenges that lie ahead in the restaurant business. Culinary school is demanding, so much so that between 40 and 60 percent of each class drops out before graduation. So if you’re really serious about this profession, you must be prepared to overcome the challenges that culinary school throws up.
- Try out the job first: Before you go to culinary school, before you spend money and put yourself through the hardships that this endeavor entails, try working in a restaurant in a high pressure situation so you can see for yourself what the job is like. If you thrive in this atmosphere, if you find yourself loving it in spite of all the inconveniences and hard work, then apply to the culinary school of your choice.
- Set high standards for yourself: Don’t wait for your instructors or for your course to challenge your abilities; instead, set high standards for yourself and work towards achieving them. Push yourself to excel no matter what; raise pertinent questions demonstrate a passion for the job because only then is it possible to be the best at it. When you raise the bar really high, any other standard set by your school or your instructors becomes easy to achieve.
- Be prepared to work in extreme conditions and for long hours: Being a chef is hardly the glamorous job that’s shown on television; very rarely do they reach the heights of fame and fortune. They have erratic and unconventional work timings, their workplace is hot, noisy and always busy, and they spend long hours on their feet. It’s a tiring job, and unless you’re really passionate about it, it’s hard to survive let alone succeed at it. Culinary school tries to prepare you for the work conditions ahead, so accept the challenge as a foundation for your professional life ahead.
- Take criticism in its stride: Your culinary instructors are most likely to be top chefs who may be temperamental; they could be critical of your every move and they demand perfection in whatever you do. At times it could feel that nothing you ever do is going to be to their satisfaction. However, do remember that this is part of the preparation for your future life when you have to work under a professional chef along with a team of others just like you.
It may sound cliché, but it’s the truth – unless you’re willing to go through the test of fire, it’s impossible to stand the heat of being a professional chef. So be prepared and passionate, and you’re ready to meet the challenges of culinary school.
*This guest post is contributed by Cindy Cullen, she writes on the topic of culinary art college. She welcomes your comments at her email id: cindycullen84 <@>gmail<.>com.