Program of Study

 

IMG_2468.jpgSuggested Program of Study for a student interested in attending a culinary arts college.

By attending a local community college and joining the running start program, the student can graduate high school with enough credits and applied Tech Prep credits to equal an associate’s degree. They may then transfer to a reputable 4-year culinary arts college, like the Culinary Institute of America, with only 2 additional years of schooling required.  This cuts the cost of the Bachelor of Science Degree from a very prominent college, in half. Additionally and only if possible, the student should work part-time to at a hospitality business to ensure that this pathway is agreeable for the student to pursue.

Freshman

Language Arts

United States History

Algebra 1

Physical Science

Photography

Health/Sports

Sophomore

Newspaper/Yearbook

Civics/Government

Geometry

Geography

Photography – Tech Prep Credits

Foods & Nutrition/Cuisines & Cultures

Junior

AP Language Arts – Running Start

World History – Running Start

Algebra II

Chemistry

Photography II

Culinary Arts I – Tech Prep Credits

Senior

Journalism – Running Start

Psychology – Running Start

Financial Algebra – Running Start

Biology – Running Start

French 1 – Running Start

Culinary Arts II – Tech Prep Credits

Ten Thousand Hours

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I always knew I wanted to become a chef, but there were a lot of naysayers along the way. Part of my family thought that meant slaving in a catfish house behind a deep fryer for the rest of my life. Others had grandiose dreams of me cooking for Queen Elizabeth on her yacht.   I was told by many on the pathway to cooking that being a woman would be a problem and yet others felt the industry would lead me down a path of general substance abuse.

The best choice I ever made was to only listen to my heart. I knew that I needed to jump start my education because I did not have any professional experience, so I looked for the best culinary school I could find. I figured I only had a few years and needed to spend my time and money wisely. I chose well and attended the Culinary Institute of America. It was at the time, considered the Harvard of culinary schools, and my career began there.

When I graduated I was really scared because many of my fellow classmates had jobs lined up at well known restaurants with top notch chefs, but I knew I was not ready for that yet. I moved to a small town with a friend from school and found a job at a restaurant that was of a caliber that I knew I could handle and yet learn from at the same time. This decision was a good one and that little restaurant allowed me to grow at my own pace and realize what I had just learned for the last two years.

After a few years of working there, I decided to travel. Being from the South and having just experienced the big apple, I was hungry for more. I traveled through Europe on a student Eurail pass and it truly opened my mind to other foods, the great variety of languages, and the cultures. It also helped me understand how much more I needed to learn and how little of life I had really experienced. I did a lot of soul searching through my travels and decided I needed to get back home, find a mentor, and get to work learning.

Once home, I researched whom I might work for using the Zagat guide and started applying for work. It took me a year to land a job at the restaurant I really wanted to work in, but the wait paid off. After that, it was all about work ethic; showing up on time, being prepared, asking for help, asking for more help, admitting when you were wrong, gracefully accepting praise, and never, ever, missing a day of work.

Over the course of my career, working in very well known restaurants with some very famous chefs, to the dramatic achievement of opening my own restaurant with my husband and finally being able to call myself a chef, it took about 10 years or ten thousand hours. I just had to put my head down and work very, very hard at always improving, just a little bit. Baby steps.

So what are the keys to advance in the career you want to be in? Go to the best school that’s around, travel, find a mentor that you respect, and then settle in knowing you will work harder than ever, for a very long time. What’s the good news? Before you know it, you will look up and you will be able to call yourself a _____.  For me, I could call myself a chef.

The Next Step

The Next Step: College or Gap Year

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-10-30-50-pmAs the senior year of high school begins, many students are already     considering the end.  This final year of school for many is not just homecoming dances, clubs, and sporting events, but FASFA, essays, and deadlines; not to mention grades, testing, and more testing.  It seems that a year that should be filled with excitement, enjoying the many final moments with friends you’ve made along the way, and basking in the power of the upperclassman status, is marred by stress and endless questions.  Recently, a student said to me, “If one more person asks me where I’m going to college…”

Enter the Gap Year.  For decades, this was frowned upon.  Now it is in fashion and a popular response to THE question, but it is a small chunk of time that can have far reaching pros and cons, and something not to be considered lightly.  The gap year, does not benefit every student.

For some, this free time is detrimental and can spawn apathy towards school and the whole academic experience.  Many students find work making money that simply lines their pockets, while continuing to live at home.  The façade of “easy living” can blur a young mind and promote entitlement.

For others, it is seen as a gift of time; time to understand the magnitude of the decision that needs to be made and to choose wisely.  This time frame is typically filled with working and saving money.  The financial aid process can be explored more diligently and the choice of which college to attend can be considered wholeheartedly.

Whichever pathway a student takes, it is important for the student to remember that there’s only one senior year and it should be experienced to the fullest and that may have different meanings to different students.   “Beginning with the end in mind,” while words of wisdom, must be tempered with fun and spending time just being a kid If at all possible.  Adulthood and major decisions are coming down the pike soon enough.

The Quest to Become a Chef

In the quest to become a chef, what path to take is always the question; do you pay the money and go to culinary school or do you get a job and work your way up through the ranks. In my opinion, you need to do both. Each path introduces concepts and teaches lessons that are specific to the experience and are beneficial down the road.

Chef Daniel Boulud makes a valid case for the importance of culinary school:

” I think [culinary schools] are indispensable to a young chef who really wants to make a career in that field… culinary schools give access to such a repertoire of basic knowledge one has to acquire,” he says. “…you don’t always acquire that as soon as you work for a chef who has too much personalization… I think it’s good to know the basics. You have access to libraries, you have access to time to study.” 

Culinary schools give the student the time and opportunity to learn all that they can and more importantly, a place to make mistakes. Often in a busy, professional kitchen, the cooks don’t have a lot of wiggle room for making mistakes when it’s happening on the chef’s dime. Culinary school can give you a solid foundation so the student can take a job in a professional kitchen and not feel so out of place.

The next step as graduation approaches is to find a mentor. The student has to actively research the best chef to work with before leaving school. One great resource for that is the Zagat guide. This guide lists the top restaurants in a specific city. The student needs to make a list of all the chefs they want to work with and research that chef and their food.

Once graduation comes, it’s time to get moving. Students need to actively find a job. Once they land that kitchen job, it’s important to stick it out. Often the stress of the kitchen, the level of professionalism that is demanded, and the demeanor of the chef can send a student running. Students need to stick it out and stay put for at least 6 months, but one year is best. For employers looking at resumes, job stability for that length of time is paramount. During this time the student can really get comfortable with their skills and make a statement in that kitchen. Often the student will end up staying at that restaurant, as they become an important part of the family and possibly move up the ladder.

On the pathway to becoming a chef, the reality is not what is shown on the Food Network. It takes 10,000 hours of schooling and hard work, day after day to learn the skills needed to perform the job of a successful chef. It is achievable and can be had much more quickly by attending school, but it is a job to be carefully considered. Like many professions though, if it’s right for you, then the reality is only a matter of time.

 

Source:

http://www.eater.com/2013/7/11/6408893/culinary-school-the-pros-and-cons-of-culinary-education