Thursday, September 06, 2018

No, Your Child is Not Going to Culinary School

I had a request at Asshole Consulting, the comments section of which had an actual chef chime in and (once again) confirm the Ole Captain was right.  

I thought this would be of value for any of you or your children who are contemplating attending culinary school.  And remember, if you love your children...heck...if you love yourself you will buy and read the book "Worthless" before you fools continue to propagate this higher education disaster.

Professional Chef here.

I'll be even more succinct than Clarey.

Your daughter sucks balls. What I mean is, 11 times out of 9 she will be an extremely mediocre student, like most girls are, who will pay WAY too much money for the eventual dog shit job she will get. Skewering cherry tomatoes for some lame as catering company for $12/hr. Most of my graduating class are not cooking anymore, they're fucking selling life insurance, working retail, answering phones, or got knocked up four seconds after graduation. That should tell you something.

The market is oversaturated with mediocre people with mediocre talent, ideas, and contributions. Your daughter won't change that anytime soon. Customers are fucking stupid. Nuke every food show on tv, THEN think about opening a restaurant because food network et al have fucking RUINED this industry. They want Iron Chef, for Dollar Menu prices.

Anthony Bourdain was a mediocre line cook and a junkie, stop worshipping him. Good fucking riddance. SINGLE. WORST. RECRUITER. EVER. The amount of lives i've seen ruined because people wanted to be this guy... Went out like a 10 time junkie should too! Should've bet money on it! Everything you see on tv is bullshit. Even the super high production value shit with the slow motion capture, and people discussing their philosophies... it's all bs and not worth the pathetic pay.

If your stubborn child and you aren't convinced... If you still want to go to school (like a dumbass) Read lots of cookbooks, preferably old ones, written by people who don't have tv shows. Then get the expensive ones, all the french and spanish dudes, Ducasse, Robuchon Torreblanca, Suas, Boulud, Migoya, Leroux, JF Piege, Anne Sophie Pic, etc . Find the cheapest school you can find. (I'd divulge where I went but I'd dox the fuck out of myself It wasn't LCB) but it was pretty cheap. Take full advantage of the facilities. First one in, last one to leave. Volunteer for every fucking thing that comes up, dinners, parties, catering, do it all! Cook at home. Not BS, like my classmates did, cook the shit you make in class. Then read more cookbooks.


Anonymous said...

Former line cook and kitchen manager here. A culinary degree is worth less than toilet paper if you don’t have a high stress tolerance. I don’t care if someone thinks they’re a ‘hard worker.’ Can they handle the physical stress of the job? Can they handle the inevitable verbal abuse when they fuck up when service is already ten minutes behind? Are they able to withstand the flak from family members when they miss birthday and Christmas parties because they had to work?
And let’s not forget the last ironic twist regarding cooking. The only ones who make any money at it are those who get sucked into the business side of it.

daniel_ream said...

Sounds about right; I've said very similar things to people who wanted to get into tech during various booms.

W/r/t being a chef specifically, I'd be interested in this fellow's opinion on how much of that is artistic talent and how much is diligence and practice (the 10,000 hours myth).

August said...

Yep. I met my ex-wife when she was in 'culinary school.' She should not have been there, and I shouldn't have gotten anywhere near her. One of the most major scams ever, and on top of it a lot of those students just want to party. There's a a sort of competition sorting going on, at least where she went, so folks that had been working in the field for years and didn't have an addiction to drama went on to graduate, and she washed out. My cooking skills were better than hers.

Of course, the ones who graduated were done no favors either. Too much debt for an industry were the average 'chef' just isn't going to make that much money.

Paul, Dammit! said...

Yeah, a few of the guys I work with are ex-chefs who had very decent resumes. Figure this, after cooking school and 5-15 years of work, it made more sense for them to become deckhands doing shit work on boats for a couple of years to qualify to become officers years later. That's how much they loved cooking.

It's a good fallback job- the 'if I lose a leg and can't do what I do now' gig, which every high earning outdoor-job type has to have in the back pocket.

Anonymous said...

Middle child (girl) took a pastry class her Sophomore year of High School, and started talked about maybe wanting to go to culinary school. I found a local pastry shop, and asked the owner if she might be willing to give us 20-30 minutes to discuss my daughter's interest in a culinary career.

The chef said Culinary school would be $30-$50k of education, and at the end (if she was lucky) she *might* land a $10/hr catering job. The majority of people with a culinary degree, never run a kitchen, never own a restaurant, and spend their entire career making $10-$15/hr doing uninspiring grunt work for a hotel chain.

We thanked the chef for her time, bought some cookies, and as soon as we got in the car middle child said "Well... I guess I'm not going to culinary school... TEN DOLLARS AN HOUR?!?! Who spends that much money to make TEN DOLLARDS AN HOUR?!?!?!"

She's currently enrolled in a state university (on full scholarship), studying aerospace engineering. ;)

Anonymous said...

There's an amazing defunct podcast called "Linecook415", has a few episodes on culinary school vs working, how to stagier correctly and the like. Very good information if you're thinking about culinary school, very realistic as to spending near law school prices for a job that pays 25% over minimum wage in most places.

Wandering man said...

I went to Le Cordon Bleu! I know how to heat up pop tarts! 😋

Mike said...

Sounds like how TV has ruined everyone's expectations for flipping used cars. News flash: you're not going to get $10k for 1978 Ford Mustang that's been sitting in a field with the windows busted out for the last 20 years. And when you fix up your uncle's '73 Chevy Camaro, you're not going to get $80k for it at auction because you haven't invested $65k into the restoration. Getting emotionally involved with a car is almost as bad a financial decision as getting emotionally involved with a 9 or a 10 girlfriend.

TechieDude said...

I did the same with my daughter about being an orchestra musician. Pretty much someone has to die for you to get a good gig in a major orchestra. And even then, it doesn't allow you to "shit in linen" as my mom would say.

It's essential to go talk to the pros and find out what the scoop is. After that, it's simple maths.

BTW - Bourdain was quite honest about what working in a restaurant is like in his first book. Not that he's sainted, but before idolizing the guy, maybe these kids would read what he actually said. He had a whole chapter on it. Two points stick with me - first, commercial cooking is nothing like what you do at home and second - learn to speak spanish. Because all your low paid help will.

Anonymous said...

"Sounds about right; I've said very similar things to people who wanted to get into tech during various booms."

Except technology usually has some real value at the end of all the hard work. Anyone can cook spaghetti at home. You can't whip up in half an hour a night at home. Mediocre engineers make more than high end chefs. (And celebrity engineers make far more than celebrity chefs: Gordon Ramsay at $190m, Jensen Huang at $5.5b)

Anonymous said...

This is shit you can learn in your parents kitchen with a cookbook and some experience. Learn to make great food by trial and error. Jesus fucking christ.

Thomas Smith said...

So my investment in "The Joy Of Cooking" has paid off with a $25 investment as well as a $50k-$100k degree. WINNING!

Anonymous said...

Guy I work with is paying for his kid's Culinary Arts education. Kid ain't motivated enough to pick up up his dog's shit, so kiss that 30k away. Oh wait - he was motivated enough to get a fucking pineapple tattoo - cuz "that's the hospitality industry logo".

I just shake my head.