are culinary schools worth it?

It's been 4 years since I graduated from culinary school. I never have any questions about doing so. There's been a lot of talk about this, some positives and negatives. I think the school question is a complicated issue, depends on many factors. 

If you can afford to go to school, are culinary schools worth it? I can give you good examples and not so good examples. There were 22 students in my class, I'd say only one third still working in food industry. Having said that, all three of my close friends who I met in class are still stick to it and doing really great, one is a pastry chef in a high-end restaurant, one is opening her own shop at the end of this year, and the last one is enjoying her lifestyle as a consultant. 

As you know, I had zero background about food industry. Culinary school gave me the opportunity to get into those doors. Since I knew what I wanted to do with my career, I was able to land my first job right away at a Michelin starred restaurant once I finished school. Three years later, I started my own business as a teaching school. One thing I can tell you and it is so true that you get out of it what you put into it!  And to be realistic, goal won't happen overnight or without work. Make sure you're ready to make changes and understand the situation of low wages and high pressure environment that will affect your lifestyle. And remember once you get in the door, it is on you to prove what you can do behind the line.

A couple days ago, my friend Bex and I got invite to a special dinner with chef Martin Yan at California Culinary Academy. Tell the truth, I wasn't excited about the chef, but it turned out I kind of like him in person. You won't believe how old he is. I was very surprised when he told us he is a 88 years old man. (it turned out he's only a 63 yrs old man--good joke, chef!).  Anyway, he gave us a demonstration in class, then chef Mike gave us a quick tour of the campus, and then a 9-course dinner at their restaurant Technique that runs by their students. I have to say the food was good.

I'm not here to debate the school question, I just want to support all the kids and give them a chance. I'll write about the restaurant on 4tastebuds sometime soon, but first I need to check out their food more often before I can write about it. By the way, I'm going back to audit some classes next month--so excited!!!

In case you're interested in checking out their food, they're open from Tuesday through Friday for lunch ($10 for 3-course) and dinner ($10 for 3-course and $15 for 4-course). A very good deal, right. 

Top Left (clockwise)
- Classic Naples style pizza
- Blue cheese with honey and white truffled arugula
- Heirloom tomato trifle with saba
- Garlic shrimp risotto
- Chinoise salad
- Tomato sorbet with basil oil and sea salt
- Halibut in tomato saffron broth with duchess potatoes and peas
- Chicken with gnocchi, artichoke, tomato and pan sauce
- Apple-oat crisp with cinnamon yogurt anglaise


ailovebaking.com said...

Thip thank you for this insight. I've been thinking about culinary school for awhile and just not sure it is for me at this point of my life. With two young kids . . . it would be hard. That's why I try to take individual classes here and there to learn the skills and I am honored to have taken a class from you!

taste tester said...

Great post!! And I looked up Chef Yan's age ... it appears he's in his 60s, not 80s. But he doesn't look like he's either of those ages :)

Thip said...

thanks Lisa--i just check his bio out..he lied to me.. :)


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