Julia Child was once quoted to say that no one is born a great cook, and that one learns simply by doing. In this regard, it can be said that acquiring culinary skills is not something you can do overnight, but something you should consistently practice at in order to refine and perfect.
For most individuals, cooking regularly would be enough to develop their culinary skills but for those with a passion for food and who wish to push the boundaries of their skills, further instructional studies and formal education might be required. With this in mind, some individuals would toy with the idea of taking a formal course in the culinary arts.
If you have had always a unique affinity with cooking and found yourself drawn to the idea of perfecting your craft by enrolling in a culinary arts program, know that you are going to encounter a myriad of misconceptions before you begin your journey. Unfortunately, while these erroneous beliefs may seem harmless on the outset, it could potentially affect your study as well as your eventual career trajectory. To ensure that this does not happen to you, it is recommended to start your career as a chef knowing what to expect starting with debunking the common false beliefs and impressions about culinary school and being a chef in general.
Below is a list of the top common fallacies about being a chef and culinary school:
1.) MYTH: All chefs are experts on food
Many students venture into the field of culinary arts under the impression that they will become experts on food once they graduate. Unfortunately, just because you have pursued a particular field does not immediately mean you will be an expert about it the moment you get your diploma. Like any other field or expertise, there is always room for learning. In this regard, chefs need a constant commitment to cooking, a love for entertaining guests and an interest in further refining their skills. The hallmark of a truly great chef is not the great food but their passion. With this in mind, never hesitate to ask questions and expand your knowledge if there is something you are confused about or simply do not know. As a result, you will grow as a chef and broaden your skills and expertise.
2.) MYTH: All culinary programs are alike
Culinary arts is an incredibly expansive field insomuch that there is a multitude of layers to it. With this in mind, it is erroneous to assume that all culinary programs would be similar. While there may be common themes among the various subjects offered in different schools, curriculum and course offerings vary greatly among culinary schools. Apart from that, different schools have different focuses and their timelines are completely different. There are some schools that focus solely on culinary skills and techniques while there are some that incorporate advanced culinary arts such as menu development and presentation. On the surface, culinary arts might seem straightforward but the discipline is incredibly multi-faceted with some programs even going as far as including culinary operations management, kitchen sanitation and safety, purchasing and storeroom management and supervision into their curriculum.
3.) MYTH: Kitchens are noisy and chaotic
This belief stems from how audiences observe kitchens based on television shows. However, you should not believe everything that you see on TV and film. While kitchens can indeed be busy and a little disorganized at times, there is little to no screaming or pot throwing that happens. To address mistakes or to ensure the harmonious flow in the kitchen, chefs try to communicate with one another. Sure, it may get loud at times owing to the background noise, but it is hardly born out of anger.
4.) MYTH: You will only ever learn to cook in school
While there is some truth to this, there is a world of knowledge and study that goes into perfected cooking--and much of that is cultivated from other fields and disciplines. In this regard, you cannot expect to learn cooking in school alone. One example is how certain great chefs have made it a point to understand specific principles in chemistry to refine their cooking technique and produce more effective dishes. Similarly, chefs continuously keep up with current trends to augment their skills and technique.
5.) MYTH: Cooking is all about technique
Cooking is not a discipline that you can learn from the works of others. While it is true that science forms a core basis of cooking, so much of it relies on cooking a great deal and finding results for yourself. In this regard, you need to do a lot of trial and error which could spell a myriad of burnt dishes and odd tastes. However, that should not deter you as learning from your culinary mistakes brings you a step closer to your goal of being a better chef. With this in mind, chefs should never be afraid to commit mistakes and develop their technique over time.