June 22, 2010

How to be a Top Chef

The new season of Top Chef just started on Bravo, and some of the dishes they make sound downright yummy. Others…not so much. Have you ever watched Top Chef or another cooking-related show and thought, “I could do just as good, if not better!” during the show?

It’s never to late to put your money where your mouth is and go back to school to become a top chef yourself!

Getting a culinary degree doesn’t limit you to just being a professional chef, though. There are many types of chef jobs available, from catering parties to baking fresh breads for grocery stores to cooking on a cruise line. Once you get an education in this field, the possibility really are endless, as cliche as that sounds.

So how do you get started in a new career in the culinary world? The top schools require you to have experience working in a commercial kitchen, so getting a job in this field is definitely a step in the right direction. Restaurants typically don’t require a degree for most of their line cooks, though you may have to start from the bottom, washing dishes and chopping vegetables. You could even work at a fast food restaurant to gain experience.

If it isn’t realistic for you to quit your current job and begin working a Applebee’s, don’t worry – there are many culinary schools who accept students with no culinary experience. Most schools have separate programs for pastry chefs, so you can choose your passion, cooking or baking, and focus specifically on those skills. Some schools even have separate programs for those who want to find cake decorator jobs.

Not every professional chef goes to culinary school. If you have a passion for being in the kitchen and are willing to put in the time, you can start as a dishwasher and work your way up the ranks to be a sous chef or even an executive chef. Some of the best, most award-winning chefs in the country never went to culinary school. Passion, dedication, and attention to detail can help you become a top chef someday, whether or not you have a degree and no matter what your age.

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