Having just graduating from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts back in March, I often replay in my head the time I spent there and whether or not I feel it was truly beneficial. Without a doubt, I feel culinary school is not for everyone. Personally for me, I am very thankful for my time in Minneapolis and the experience I gained. It helped me get that jump start into my career path. Are you, or someone you know interested in joining the culinary profession? It’s a very difficult and life changing decision to make. This week I’ll list some of the pros I believe culinary school has to offer.
Lack of Knowledge:
When I finally made the decision to attend culinary school, I had very little knowledge about the restaurant industry, let alone what it was like to work in a kitchen. I had worked in retail, and my only experience handling food was minimal prepping at a deli. From football shaped potatoes AKA Tourne’s (I made so many Tourne’s that I dreamt about them!), to converting 25 teaspoons into cups, culinary school taught me various basics. A lot of the knowledge I gained I still use on a daily basis. For someone who was inexperienced like myself, I found school to be extremely useful. Probably the most beneficial skill I took with me was how to handle a knife. I had an entire six week class that was primarily based on how to cut with a knife properly.
Granted, culinary schools sometimes are considered a con, but I believe that most employers would view culinary school as a positive. When I briefly searched for jobs in Minneapolis after I graduated, I know that most of the people I had interviews with or talked to, positively acknowledged that I attended Le Cordon Bleu. School taught me the importance of an organized and clean kitchen. This is a trait that some people who never attended school may lack. Going to school also gave me a better understanding of respect as well. Although I still love to have fun while in the kitchen, school helped me become more disciplined.
In a trade school like Le Cordon Bleu, you are most likely with the same students for the entire year. This could be a good or bad thing. If you get in a large class, it’s more likely you’ll form friendships. Unfortunately for me, I had a very small class and none of us grew very close. Part of it may have been due to us not being too talkative at 6am! However, I still keep in touch with a couple of the students. Forming friendships during school I know has really helped out a lot of people in their career. If you impressed one of your peers in school, the more likely they’ll want you to work in the kitchen with them in the future. Connections are a very beneficial thing!
The Chefs at my school were wonderful teachers and the majority of them were willing to write letters of recommendations or be used as references. Having solid references is a great thing to have when being considered for a job. In addition, the representatives at Le Cordon Bleu were great. During school they helped each student edit their resumes, and discussed the key components in what an employer looked for. They also checked up on me after graduation to see if there was anything they could do to help further advance my career. I had actually contacted one of them for advice about a seasonal job I had been hired at and she was very helpful. Throughout school they told us that even many years from now, if we were struggling to find a job,they would assist us. It was a comfort to know that I had that resource.
I was excited at how many recipes I was given throughout the year. I have an entire binder full of recipes just from culinary school, not to mention the two books I was given that discussed the basics of French Cuisine. I was also given numerous packets that had information about things like different meat cuts, the science behind baking, and spices. I felt all of the recipes will be very useful throughout my career.
Testing Your Future:
My dreams and goals have been one big rollercoaster ride ever since I was a child. At one point I wanted to work at Sea World and ride Shamu! However, one day I wanted a drastic change. I always enjoyed cooking for friends and family, and it was the one skill I felt I could rely on. To be honest though, it wasn’t until after the second semester of school that I realized this was my dream career. I wanted to be a Chef! I remember calling home one afternoon, ecstatic that I made gnocchi with tomato sauce and brown butter. School was the reason why I pushed forward to become a chef. That alone, is the biggest reason why I’m so thankful I attended school.
These are the key pros that I experienced myself through school. With the pros, also comes the cons. Please check back next week to see what I feel some of the cons about culinary school are! Have a wonderful week!