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Culinary School Advice from Chef David Gilbert

My Early Love Affair with Food

My love for food started when I was a young child. My parents would take me from Canada to Boston to visit my grandparents. My grandfather owned a classical butcher shop tucked away in one of Boston's busy suburban neighborhoods. I can still remember standing on a stool watching him fabricate meat for customers, teaching me the different cuts, and inspiring me. Perhaps he thought I would take over the family business one day.

Culinary Arts

Eventually my parents packed up the family and headed south to Dallas, TX. Once we landed in the new house, I became obsessed with helping my mom in the kitchen. She let me "shake & bake" chicken, make peanut butter sandwiches and pluck grapes, but not much more. Her rule was not to test my chef skills until I was tall enough to reach the stove.

Egg Wild: Learning to Cook

Finally, when I was seven, she showed me how to make scrambled eggs. It was a great start, but I was hungry for more. I began experimenting with poached eggs, hard boiled eggs, trying to land that perfect fried egg in the middle of a hollowed out piece of toast-you name it!

The day of my eighth birthday, while all the kids were outside by the pool sucking down that butter cream grocery store cake, I went inside and made eggs. I know it sounds a bit bizarre not to indulge in cake, but I wanted to eat something real. Too bad I did not know about truffles and foie gras! I recall eating those eggs on my parents new couch-which was a big no-no, by the way-and saying to myself: "I want to be a chef." I have kept the thought alive all these years.

My First Taste of the Chef's Life

Once I could legally work, I did not hesitate to seek out an entry-level restaurant position. After convincing a chef to hire me based on my young love for food, I excelled and embraced the opportunity to hone my skills in a real working kitchen.

Once it was time to head off to college, some tough decisions had to be made. Computers were booming at the time, but my love was with gastronomy. My father, who I have always looked up to for advice, weighed the pros and cons of following my culinary aspirations-working long hours, holidays, and weekends. The harsh reality scared me into studying graphic design, but it didn't last. My heart was in the kitchen.

Putting My Chef Dreams to the Test

I called home to tell my parents I was ready to become a chef. There was a moment of silence, then a long list of "must do's" before I was going to be sent to culinary school. I was to finish the year out, then come home for the summer to work day and night in a restaurant. One complaint and I'd be sent to the local community college.

That summer I worked from 7am-11pm, 6 days a week. I'd walk in the back door of my parents house, pass out in my work clothes, wake up, and launch the next round. Instead of hanging around the pool, soaking up the sun, the only heat I got was from the stove. Some how I survived. Did I finally earn my way to culinary school? Stay tuned for my next edition to find out!

The Greatest Culinary Lesson Ever Learned

I have learned that when someone has that internal drive to be a chef,it never dies. They go to all lengths to seek out their passion, love, and commitment to themselves and the profession. The journey is a long and hard one, but if you love what you do, you never bother to look at the clock, count the hours, or let obstacles get in your way. It all boils down to commitment in yourself, and that is something no chef can teach.

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            5 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            4 Program(s) Found
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
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            2 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 12:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
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            3 Program(s) Found
            • Culinary Arts program includes the 3-week Farm To Table® Experience, where students gain a direct, in-depth look at where food comes from.
            • Numerous scholarship opportunities and financial aid are available to students who qualify.
            • Accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), and the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
            • 2 campuses located in Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
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            L'Ecole Culinaire , Saint Louis
            • Offers educational opportunities for the aspiring, career-minded chef.
            • Students are trained by professional chefs and spend the majority of their final term working in the campus restaurant to learn all phases of the culinary industry.
            • St. Louis campus offers new Food Truck Entrepreneurship courses.
            • Has a student-run food truck that tours around St. Louis.
            • All campuses have a public restaurant where food is prepared and served by students.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
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            • Transferable Credits
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Gives students the opportunity to earn their associate’s degree in the culinary arts field in less than 15 months or bachelor’s degree in the food service management field in 2.5 years through their year-round schedule.
            • Located in Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia.
            • Offers externship experiences to students for experience in the field.
            • Hosts regular career fairs for employer recruitment.
            • Has student housing available.
            • Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).
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