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.