A Catering Education vs Kitchen Experience

There is a lot of discussion and debate as to whether a great education or experience in the kitchen will put you in better stead for this industry.

A lot of this may be down to the prospective employer’s opinion but if you are wondering whether to go back to the classroom and learn or get in the kitchen, here’s what you need to know.

Culinary school prepares young chefs with the technical language and skills that they will need to work in a top kitchen, for example if they get told to do something Bain Marie, they will have no issue knowing what this is and how to do it.

However, someone with many years of kitchen experience may still not know what this is because if you have not done it before you will not know.

Your skills in the kitchen are important, not the most important but still a factor when looking for employment. You must have great skills every time to be a successful chef and even though at culinary school students will be taught these skills, they will never have had to perform these under the conditions of a kitchen with no room for mistakes.

Where as someone who has worked in kitchens for years is used to handling this pressure and stress but they will also have learnt and progressed their skills from the other chefs around them creating a more well-rounded set of skills.

Finally, the last comparison for most employers would be the candidates experience, no employer wants a chef who doesn’t know what they are doing and who could potentially create hazards.

Now, chefs from both backgrounds have a different sort of experience, culinary school gives you experience in making the dishes, refining your skills and experience as being a chef, however, it does not prepare you for a dinner rush in an extremely busy kitchen.

On the other hand, chefs who have years of experience being in the kitchen know the hazards of a kitchen and are used to the pressure of being in this environment. However, they may not have the refined ability to create different dishes and the technical language that other chefs would have.

There are pros and cons for both experience and culinary school so ultimately it will up to the individual as to which route they decide to go down.

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