Chef2Chef hosted a fun and informative chat on Twitter today called "So you want to go to culinary school...." Fellow student blogger SweetKell and I helped answer some questions. The topics ranged from chefs' salaries and white Russians to how to make a decision on which school to attend and your perfect last meal.
The overarching points I go out of the chat: If you're unsure about a career in the kitchen or culinary field, perhaps try working at a restaurant (even if it's a low-level position) before you put down the investment. This field doesn't always pay the best, so be sure this is a labor of love for you.
In my time at the French Culinary Institute, I couldn't agree more with those points.
I'm going into considerable debt for culinary school, and I wouldn't have done so if I didn't really love cooking for a career. So yes, you won't be raking in a six-figure salary in your first job - be prepared for that if money matters. That said, chefs at my school insist that if you're committed to the field and on growing as a chef, you can make a living as a chef. In our chat today, it was brought up several times that people have a distorted view of working as chef because of shows like "Top Chef" and other Food Network celebrities. I think diners often forget that behind the dishes chefs parade out of the kitchen is a lot of sweat, commitment and love.
If you're trying to make a decision on whether culinary school is right for you, think about these issues beforehand. But also research the school, talk to students, visit the school and think carefully about what you're passionate about because I can guarantee you it can be a very rewarding path.