Why don't you get a kitchen job, stupid

I’ve been reading through comments to the Chef2Chef blogs from the past year – not only to me, but also to the other bloggers here.

We get a lot of support as we make our way through culinary school and figure out our career goals, but also get a lot of flack for not always knowing where we’re headed with school and career.

For me, the biggest criticism has been “why don’t you stop complaining and just get a kitchen job, stupid.” Yes, they used the word “stupid.” And although I could do without the name calling, I like their passion. I get it — they’ve been through all of this already — trying to figure out school, work, career paths – and they’re trying to slap us into reality so we don’t waste time or money. I appreciate that, and I (we) hear you:

  • Culinary school is not going to teach us everything we need to know about the industry.
  • In order to gain respect and earn a respectable title, we need to pay our dues and get our butts kicked in a working kitchen for a bit of time.
  • There are strong, differing opinions on whether culinary school is worth it or not. Some have found it to be a waste of time, while others benefited greatly.
  • There are strong, differing opinions about the title of “chef,” when and how it can be used, and what it really means.

I’m definitely still learning, still making my way through this culinary journey, and appreciate everyone’s advice and comments. Thanks for being so candid and up front with the realities of the food industry and sharing your opinions, even when they were sometimes harsh.

I will soon be laid off from my current marketing position. It’s been scary to think about losing the income which contributes to 50% of our household expenses, but it has forced me, along with your comments, to really define what it is I want out of culinary school and the food-related work I’ve been doing on the side for the last several years.

You’ve helped me define what I’m most passionate about, and confirmed I’m on the right career path, which is multi-faceted: food writing/editing, recipe development and testing, and cooking instruction for the home cook.

Some of you may not agree with that, or may think it’s not a valid choice of profession — why I would ever want to waste time focusing on teaching home cooks how to cook? You’ve been heard loud and clear.

I want to show people the importance of cooking from scratch again, get them back into their kitchens, cooking for their friends and families again, and show people how they can begin to cook without recipes — improvisational cooking. I want to be a part of (and I am a part of) the slow food movement that is urging people to stop using prepackaged convenience foods, which contributes to our poor health and obesity crisis. And I want to be a voice for people with food allergies, like myself. I want to do all of this through writing and instruction. And I can’t really do any of it with authority unless I have a culinary degree.

I’m well on my way, and proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish in just three short years: I’ve been freelancing as a food writer for various online and print publications (no, not just on my blog); I’ve done several video and in-person cooking demos in what I’m most experienced to date, which is pastry dough techniques; and I started teaching cooking-101 lessons this year with the help of my culinary mentor who is a certified executive chef. In addition to culinary school, I’m also waiting for my private chef certificate to arrive as we speak. And I’ve been working in professional kitchens at Disney as I’m able to fit it into my schedule so I can truly be a liaison between the professional cooking world and the home cook.

OK, so there, it’s out there. Go easy on me.

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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.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            5 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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            4 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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            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
            • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
            • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
            • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
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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
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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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            • Students get real-world experience through the required externship at the end of the program.
            • Curriculum includes laboratory sessions, academic preparation and hands-on experience.
            • Program objectives are to provide students with skills needed for cooking wholesome, attractive, food preparations and to assist graduates in obtaining positions in the food service industry.
            • Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
            • Has campuses in Melbourne, Sarasota, and Tallahassee, Florida
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