So i'm withdrawing from culinary school and...
I am currently attending The Art Institute of California and it's a great school don't get me wrong but it's extremyl expensive and i had a mental breakdown the other day (i have bipolar disorder) and i just feel like i don't really need to go there in order to accomplish my dreams, i recently talked to a manager from a local bakery and they said i can volunteer there so that's where i can gain experience also there's alot of other careers i want to pursue so that's what i want to focus on right now. But are there any tips or books i should read cause i eventually want to own my own bakery someday but i just feel like going to school isn't really necessary in order for the careers i want to have.
This is gonna be long!
I also went to culinary school at AI of CA (Santa Monica!) I withdrew and don't regret it a bit. I was still able to work in the field for as long as I wanted (which honestly wasn't long - I hated it.) The best piece of advice I ever received from the chefs I worked with was to not worry about culinary school. The degree and education help a lot, but it is absolutely not the most important part of becoming chef.
From one drop out to another I can tell you:
1.) Find a chef you really respect who will take you in. If you don't respect the chef, you're not going to absorb anything they have to teach you. At that point everyone's time is being wasted, especially yours. I know you found an internship at a bakery and that's great. Just know that if things get wonky there, you do have options.
2.) Really make sure you love this if you're going to pursue it without a degree. Culinary school chefs are nothing compared to the chefs you'll work under. Especially those that see potential in you. They will push you like hell and they won't be nice about it. This isn't a bad thing, but it can be difficult. Every fiber of your being must be ready and alert to work and work well under a good chef. I know this seems obvious, but it wasn't to me. I thought I really loved it until I started working in a real kitchen.
3.) The student loans are hella expensive and unless the education is dire to your dreams, it's not worth the expense. It. Just. Isn't.
I don't regret the time I spent at AI. I learned a lot that I still carry with me. Mostly an astounding work ethic and the confidence in knowing that I can cook whatever the hell I want. Knowing how food works is awesome. Honestly though, I have friends who have never been inside a culinary school and have the same skills as I do. And they aren't paying down a five figure debt.
Did I mention that the debt isn't worth it?
hahaha thank you so much Hannah! I feel soooo much better about my decision now! At first i was like "but what if i do need to go to school in order to pursue my dream" and at the same time i was thinking "what if i actually hate what i'm doing and go into debt because of all the loans!" so i feel better about withdrawing now. Are there any books i should read about owning my own bakery or anything of that sort?
I'm not sure! Did you get as far as the Cost Control class? That class really opened my eyes to the business aspect of the industry. If you're nerdy like me and don't mind working through text books for classes you're not taking, you could try to get your hands on something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Food-Beverage-Cost-Control-Miller/dp/0471273546 . This was the book we used when I took it (I think...)
Other than that, I'm not too sure. Working for a small food business now (business side, not creative) I've noticed that the important things to have when starting are 1) A good product, obviously 2) An understanding of cost control and 3) Good relationships with those who will eventually help you. Such as investors, manufacturers, distributers, etc. Those specific people may not apply to you depending on the kind of bakery you want, but you get the picture. I think the best thing to do at this point is take it one step at time and start volunteering at the bakery. Once you start building relationships with those who do what you want to do, they'll be able to impart some of their knowledge on the best ways to get through the business.
You're going to be fine! Skill, experience and network are quickly becoming just as important if not more important than schooling. At least in this industry.
Which AI did you attend? Was it Santa Monica? Is Chef Sako still there?!
If you want to own your own Bakery some day I suggest you go to school for buisness. It may not be a lot of fun but it would probably be one of the smartest things you can do for your future.
@ Hannah: Thanks so much you made me feel alot better about that decision, no i didn't make it that far as going into that class but i will definitely look up that book because i am nerdy and love reading just to gain mor knowledge!!
@PinkWeeds: Yeah i think i may take a business course somewhere, that sounds like a good idea, thanks
personally i would take cooking classes if there is something you want to learn. my friend attends one each week and they get to keep what they cook/make (they buy their ingrediants and the teacher teaches a recipe each week)
she loves it, along with making new food and friends.
Ohh is there like a specific club or organization?
I'm going to join a baking club that meets every month
its like a 12-week class, she keeps going to each new one because she enjoys it, its not something she wants to pursue as a career (shes a dog groomer) so she does it for fun, experience etc.
The debt totally isn't worth it, the best way to have a career as a chef is to work your way up the line. I attended Culinary school in Portland Oregon and do not regret dropping out one bit. My brother also attended and dropped out, he is the head chef at an amazing Italian restaurant, because he worked his way up not because of school. I figured out I didn't want to work in a kitchen the rest of my life and most places don't even like to hire Culinary students because a lot of them try to act like they know everything and tell them how to run their businesses. I was very disappointed with all the lies they told me in order to get me to register for school and get my money. They didnt have a baking program when i started but told me i would be able to transfer once the program was offered, LIE. They also told me since I was vegetarian I would be able to focus my studies on that aspect, Huge LIE. One the teachers found out I was vegetarian, I had to break down and cook most of the meat. I think culinary school is a scam the more I think about it. Sorry about my rant
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