Six Tips for Starting Your Culinary Career

It's a Hard Knock Life

A recent article by the Associated Press found that while more people are enrolling in culinary school, many of those new chefs are facing a double whammy of lingering school debt and a difficult job market.

Don't Get Scared--Just Get Ready

But there's no reason to be deterred by these statistics. With some careful planning, you can get ahead of the game before even entering culinary school.
  • Know your options. Some culinary schools cost upwards of $20,000 a year. Research each schools' placement rates, affiliations, and financial assistance options to estimate how likely it is that they'll place you in a decent job when you're finished.
  • Do the math. Get a good feel for how much money you have, how much you need, and how long you'll need to pay off any loans.
  • Save money ahead of time. And if possible, clear out all other current debts to make room for either paying back school loans or living on a slim budget later.
  • Respect your elders. Go out and interview senior chefs to find out what kinds of skills (besides cooking) you need to succeed in a culinary career.
  • Meet and greet. No matter where you are before culinary school, set up meetings with a variety of people in the culinary arts. If you meet them now (while you aren't looking for a job) you'll be able to call on them if you need an in for a potential job later.
  • Have a backup plan. If it's at all possible to work while you're in culinary school, you might consider it. You'll have less debt later, and you'll still have a job while you're looking for a new one.

As with any other career, determination, passion, and perseverance can be the secret keys to the kingdom. Start planning now, and you can beat the statistics.

  • Associated Press