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Succeeding in Chef School, How Top Students Do It

Aug 18, 2007
Chef school is a great option for anyone who loves food and wishes to pursue a career as a restaurant manager, cafeteria manager, chef, or caterer. Even if you are an entrepreneur who wants to open a restaurant or a person who wants to become food critic, food photographer, food researcher, or food consultant, a culinary degree program can give you the skills and knowledge you need to succeed. To get the most from your education experience, though, you will want to take the steps necessary to ensure your future success.

Successful students know that chef school is about a lot more than just food preparation. Successful students who enter successful culinary careers do a few things differently to ensure success. These things are:

Set goals. A student who wants to become a food critic will need different skills than someone who wants to prepare extravagant desserts on a luxury cruise line. Before you sign up for chef school, it is a good idea to envision exactly the sort of culinary job that would make you happiest. Then, select the school and program that will let you achieve your goals.

Build a wide range of skills. Chefs need a range of skills, so it is important to study and actually work in a restaurant to get the most from your education. To be successful in a culinary job, you will want to develop good communication skills and social skills, so that you can work effectively with others in the kitchen. You will want to hone your abilities to work both as a team and independently. Since culinary jobs can be high-pressure, you will want to develop a great work ethic and reliability. Keep in mind that employers will want to see that you have plenty of stamina and a good level of physical fitness, so that you can withstand the physical pressures of the kitchen. Make sure that you stay fit while you are in your culinary program. Keep in mind, too, that learning about food preparation and hygiene about your specialty can also make you more flexible and innovative. All these diverse skills will make you more attractive to employers because they will make you a better employee.

Network. Meeting others who are passionate about food is one of the true joys of attending chef school. Get to know your classmates, instructors and employers well. You may end up working with them at some point or you may need a reference letter to land your dream job. Plus, getting to know others in the industry is a great way to learn more about cooking and food.

Take schooling seriously. Most people enter chef school because they love to cook. In many cases, cooking seems more like fun than like work. This is terrific, but it's still important to approach your program as a serious field of study and try to do your best in all your courses, internships, and other responsibilities. This sort of dedication will help you land the job you deserve.

Chef school is an important first step to a great culinary career. Once you are in a program, though, it is important to maximize your experience. Making the most of studies ensures that you have the most exciting opportunities possible in your future. Setting goals, purposefully building a wide range of skills, developing your people skills through networking and approaching your schooling with an intention to do your best help you get the best value for your dollar. Taking care to do your best also truly poises you for success after graduation.
About the Author
Andy West is a freelance writer for The Culinary Institute of Virginia College. Culinard offers two outstanding chef school programs. For information on one of the most prestigious chef schools, please visit http://www.culinard.com .
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