With the food industry growing and schools popping up everywhere, what can you expect if you are interested in one of these schools? Culinary School is a great idea for anyone who is interested in getting into the industry, but it is a good idea for you to know what is ahead if you are heading down that path.
1. Be a team player
One of the major things that will get you in good with the chefs at these schools is your ability to work with others? Is someone struggling? Help them out, and give them some advice. Is your team assigned to make a certain dish? Make sure that you are involved, and not working on your own stuff. Teams are vital to any working kitchen, and being at school is no different.
2. Get some experience.
If I could change one thing about my time during culinary school, it would have been getting some actual restaurant experience before hand. I had food service experience. For 5 1/2 years I was a butcher and deli worker at a grocery store. A kitchen is a different place. It teaches you want to do, and more importantly what not to do.
3. Respect authority.
If culinary school is an army, the chefs are the generals. Whatever they say goes. They are not there to hear why you did something different, or why they are wrong. They are there to get you ready for the real world kitchen. “Yes Chef!” “No Chef!” and “Sorry Chef!” will all become common phrases in your vocabulary. These chefs are there to help, but they are going to tell you how it is. Which brings me to my next tip.
4. Know how to take and give criticism.
When you are at school, you are going to be in a kitchen with a lot of clashing personalities. Some people will think they are chefs already, some are there with very little experience. As such, there will be lots of opinions given both out loud, and in silence. When the chef criticizes something, listen to them and try to do better. You need thick skin. Some fellow students will be giving their opinions. Use your best judgment on whether to listen to them or not. Some will be giving sour grapes, while others will be legitimately trying to help. In turn, if you are trying to help someone, do it in a civil way. There is nothing worse than a kitchen full of snippy chefs.
5. Communication is key.
Communication is the key to a successful kitchen. Make sure everyone knows what you are doing, so that you do not have too many people working on one thing. Timing is key, so getting everyone on the same page is vital to getting things out quickly and efficiently. Nothing will make a chef happier than having great food out there right when they want it. Early food will go cold, and late food will cause riots. Make sure you are on the same page, and good things will follow!
Culinary is an intense, but valuable tool for anyone who wants to make it in the industry. It takes what you know, and helps you fine tune it into becoming another success story. The best way to go into it is knowing what you are going to get into. Read posts like this, talk to other students, and do your research to decide if culinary school is right for you!