What Does It Take To Be A Professional And How Does It Affect The Industry?
There are two approaches to becoming a professional in the culinary industry: going through an accredited culinary program or going straight into the field and learning from your experiences. Both of them have their pros and cons, but at the end of the day they both have an expectation to fulfill: to get things done. While identifying these pros and cons of a culinary graduate versus a kitchen veteran in respects to a real world application, and utilizing the text in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Success as a Chef by Leslie Bilderback, and the updated edition of Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain that there is no real, set-in-stone pathway to becoming a culinary professional, there are only certain criteria that are universal to getting there.
The pros of not attending culinary school, “teaches you the physical, hands-on business, not the textbook business.” (Bilderback, 12). Starting from the bottom, and slowly learning creates a foundation of real life application, not theoretical service. They learned their skills from experience and from the chefs they work with that have been around for a longer amount of time. It becomes second nature just to do it. They don’t question or stop to think about it, they just do it. For example, they may not know what a brunoise cut is, but they will be able to follow an example, and more than likely will be able to cut it faster than the student.
However, there are cons of not attending culinary school. Not all restaurant chefs are particularly interested in cultivating their employees. Some just scream at cooks when they make mistakes rather than explain what went wrong. Some will take the time to teach their cooks basic techniques and vocabulary, while others might expect their cooks to come in knowing those things. The risk of learning on-the-job is that you don't necessarily know what kind of mentor you're going to get.
The pros of going to a culinary school are that, when coupled with realistic expectations and applications, do provide the basic skills along with learning what one is capable with these skills. Bilderback contends theory - the one lacking from one that goes straight into the industry – is essentially what you learn in school. The advantage of that is you will learn the ins-and-outs of dishes such as history, culture, purchasing and storing methods, variations, terminology, then recreate it with classmates. Learning methodology of the creation of the dish is what will carry on with the student. Some schools also offer in-depth classes that range from business to nutrition and more. You will learn so much in a small amount of time and can be out in the industry in no time. According to Bilderback, culinary school “can get you in the door.”
There are a few cons that come with graduating from culinary school. One of the main issues is experience. “The curriculum of a culinary school doesn’t always...