You may think the only way to become a chef is to go to culinary school and then seek work in a restaurant. Or, to work your way up in restaurants until you become sous chef or executive chef. However, the most time-honored way to become a chef is to be a chef's apprentice. Apprenticeships, where you learn under the guidance of a working chef, are still a recognized and relevant way to learn your trade, not only in the culinary arts but in many other fields. In fact, if you are preparing to attend culinary school, you could seek an apprenticeship before, or after you attend school.
Le Cordon Bleu, established in 1895, is a Parisian institute. No, I don't mean an institute as in "culinary institute," but an icon, and a fixture. Today, as a culinary school, it is an international institute.
Why the name "cordon bleu?"
If you had to chop dozens and dozens of onions every day, you wouldn't want to waste any time, would you? You'd need to do it efficiently. And, if you are a restaurant cook, you need to not only be quick and efficient, but you need to keep your dices as uniform as possible.
It has become a tired refrain, mostly due to the influence of food television, for professional chefs to remind us that not all cooks should be called chefs. A chef, they say, is the person in charge of the kitchen, and this implies that he or she has more mastery of cooking, as well as the intricacies of running a kitchen in general.
Recently, I heard a cook complaining about how today's restaurant diners think they know as much about food as the chef. The frustrated chef blamed this on Food TV. People watch the Food Network, he said, and they think they know how everything should be cooked. So, not only do they send food back but they try to tell you how to make it. "They don't know what they're talking about!" he said.
Hospitality management is a broad term that can refer to many diverse areas of the hospitality industry. While it is true that sometimes the term is not well-defined, and may even be too broad, programs that used to be called Hotel and Restaurant Management, Hotel and Catering, or Hotel and Food Service, may now be called Hospitality Management as a more all-encompassing label. Today in the U.S. there are over 500 post-secondary institutions that offer programs in hospitality.
Culinary school students expect to learn the basics of cooking, including such things as knife skills, different cooking methods, sauces, broths, seasoning, etc. You may ask, then, what will I learn in culinary school that I couldn't learn on the job?
I would suspect that many aspiring culinary students envision culinary school as one long "cooking class." You go to a kitchen and a grumpy chef shows you how to make something, you repeat the process while he shakes his head and grunts. You make mistakes and learn from your mistakes, etc. There's pressure, but it's a fun kind of pressure.
If you said Julia Child, you are mistaken. Julia Child has often been credited with bringing French cooking to America, but, in fact, Julia Child herself described the first woman to host a television cooking show in America to be the "the mother of French cooking in America.”
Today, there is a big debate whether culinary school is worth it for those wanting careers in restaurant cooking and/or ownership.
The expense, many say, is too much, and you can do just as well with apprenticeships, or by working your way up the ranks in various restaurants.
Chefs say pastry chefs are a crazy lot. Seriously, ask around. They do. Yet, chefs today often display a sort of schizophrenic seeming attitude toward their jobs. They love it. They get great satisfaction. It is thankless grueling work and no, you should not become a chef.
Why is it that we seem to come across so many chefs who actively discourage people from entering into a culinary career? Young people ask on various internet forums, "Should I go to culinary school?" and you tend to see at least one grumpy character pop up and say, "I've been a chef for a thousand years. Don't become a chef. You don't know what you're getting into."
Most parents want two basic things for their children. They want them to be happy. And they want them to be happy. When you want to go to culinary school and have a career in the culinary arts, and your parents don't support you, it may seem like their goals have shifted. But, what do your think their reasons are for not wanting you to go to culinary school? Perhaps they think that you will end up unhappy! Maybe they don't understand your passion for food.
Most people assume that personal chef and private chef are two different ways of naming the same career. However they are actually quite different jobs. Since becoming either a private or a personal chef can be a rewarding choice of careers for a culinary school graduate, it is important to understand the difference.
Many of those interested in becoming a chef, or pursuing some type of culinary career, become interested in food, and perhaps develop a passion for cooking, at home. Then, they decide to enroll in cooking school, and pursue their dream job: Becoming the head chef at a big-time restaurant!
The kitchen brigade is an organizational hierarchy for professional kitchens organized by the legendary French chef, Georges-Auguste Escoffier. Dubbed by Kaiser Wilhelm as "the emperor of chefs," he is one of the most important figures in the development of modern French cusine, and one of the fathers of haute cuisine.