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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.

Featured Culinary Schools

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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.
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Le Cordon Bleu Schools of North America , Online (campus option available)
  • Its first location, in Paris, officially opened its doors as a culinary school in 1895.
  • Teaches students by having them spend significant time in the kitchen practicing precision techniques.
  • Provide hands-on training from instructors who are certified, master chefs.
  • Offer flexible schedules and online programs.
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  • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
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  • Offers more than 150 self-paced, career-relevant programs that are connected to a supportive 24/7 online community of students and faculty.
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  • Nearly 25,000 graduates each year.
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  • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
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  • Has students attend one four-week class at a time and take their final exam before moving on to their next class.
  • Offers 24/7 online tech support, with a typical response time of 4 hours or less.
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  • Founded in Southern California in 1998 by dog training expert Steven Appelbaum.
  • The largest independent dog training company in the United States.
  • Offers 11-stage programs that feature an in-home study component along with a hands-on training module.
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American University’s Kogod School of Business has been educating business leaders since opening its doors in 1955 as Washington D.C.’s first university-level school of business. Faculty members are scholars who are dedicated to fostering collaborative learning environments.

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  • Ranked among the Best National Universities in 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.
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  • Houses one of the largest library systems in the Pacific Northwest, with 3 libraries on the Pullman campus and a library at each regional campus.
  • Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
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  • Dedicated to providing a hands-on, career-focused education since 1953.
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  • Some campuses host low-cost medical and dental clinics, where students can get real-world experience.
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  • Has an average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, of 96.8 percent.
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  • A private, accredited distance learning college based in Norcross, Georgia founded in 1987.
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