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Five Signs You Need a Cooking Program

Do you have what it takes to rock and enroll in a cooking program?

You have a serious cooking habit. You spend a large percentage of your free time either in the kitchen or thumbing through cookbooks and poring over the latest issues of Gourmet and Bon Appétit. You have a passion for fine dining and the sophisticated palate to match. Your friends and family regularly shed tears over your culinary brilliance and beg you to open what is sure to be a five-star restaurant…but how do you know if you're ready to enroll in a cooking program?

Here are a few signs you may be ready to take the leap:

1. You love tinkering in the kitchen.

Most of us know how to enjoy a perfectly prepared meal, and we can generally do a decent job of following a recipe, but a true chef loves putting his or her own twist on every meal. If you live to invent your own dishes, discover new ingredients and find new ways to use old stand-bys, a cooking program may be a good bet.

2. You're comfortable with the non-creative aspects of being a chef.

While boundless creativity is certainly a job requirement, you should also find some appeal in business management, as most chefs need to be able to do things like track food costs, manage a budget, negotiate with suppliers and manage personnel. A good cooking program can give you the needed practice time and sharpen your business skills.

3. You're physically strong and not easily flustered.

By all accounts, working in a professional kitchen is an intense experience. To make it as a chef, you'll need to have the physical stamina to spend long hours on your feet in an often (very) hot kitchen. You'll need to be able to work quickly and sure-handedly in an environment where expectations are high, tensions run higher, and frustrations are likely to boil over several times per shift.

4. You're happy to put work at the center of your life.

Whether you're working in a five-star restaurant or running your own catering business, it's likely that you'll spend most evenings, weekends and holidays in the kitchen. With typical shifts beginning around noon and ending near midnight, you'll need to be prepared for work to make up the bulk of your life, social and otherwise.

5. You realize that a cooking program is just the first step toward a successful career.

It takes many years of hard work after graduating from a cooking program to make it to the top of the heap in a professional kitchen. If you're not expecting immediate fame and fortune, and are confident that you'll enjoy not just success, but also "doing the time" that will make it happen, a cooking program may be for you.


Tell us a little about yourself and we'll connect you with schools that offer culinary arts programs.