I've received another question. As you know, eggbeater loves the questions. Questions help me to pull from a well and learn. Or go to others with the questions, so that a Q&A web is formed. (Yes, I know I'm corny.)
Here is the email:
I moved to Orange County about 4 months and i love it here. I recently moved to Long Beach and i am hating my job. I always wanted to be a chef especially after my semester overseas in Aix en Provence a year and a half ago. I wasted close to 70k on my French and Political Science degree and i don't want to make any hasty decisions about culinary schools. I don't know if you're in the LA area or not so i could come and talk to you in person. I want to get a job in the kitchen for a couple of months to see the dynamics of it, but no one would take me because of my inexperience.
Thank you, A.
My email response:
I imagine you've come to me because you read "Should I go to Culinary School?" or this, or "What is a Chef's Responsibility?" ? Make sure to read all the comments, as many of them offer advice as well.
Look for a few cooking classes in your area. They might be offered at a cookware store, privately, through a continuing ed program or through a culinary school-- where you don't have to put down all the money. Then approach a kitchen. Tell them you'll work for free. Maybe one day a week? Two? whatever you can afford. I'd be hard pressed to believe a kitchen would say no to free labor!
Kitchens like to hire people they know. If they see that you're serious there's a likelihood you'll be hired. Start at the bottom-- it's where all (good) chefs start.
People who graduate culinary schools are cooks, not chefs. Being a chef can take up to 10 or more years. If you love food, really love it, you will be able to have the stamina. But that has to come first. The love, the passion.
Also read as much as you can. Start with Edward Behr's The Art of Eating. He also has a newsletter, subscribe to it by clicking here.
Subscribe to Food & Wine, Gourmet, Saveur, Martha Stewart Living. Read as much as you can. You have decided you want to have cooking career at a time when there are almost as many books on the market as there are cooks. Read: Heat, Kitchen Confidential, The Zuni Cookbook, The Last Course, Home Cooking & More Home Cooking, anything by MFK Fischer, anything by Elizabeth David or Jane Grigson. Read and look at every photograph in the CIA cookbooks.
And then eat out as much as you can afford. Shop at all the farmer's markets.
The more learned you are, the faster you'll learn in the kitchen itself.
Best of luck to you.