Is Culinary School Worth It?

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Just like actors receive Oscars and musicians get Grammys, chefs receive their own set of accolades. Some of the most coveted awards include Michelin Stars, James Beard Awards, and placement on the World’s Best Restaurants list. But, is it worth it to earn these culinary awards? To find out, Placement International surveyed chefs and cooks to see what they thought.

The results showed that for the majority of people who work in food, culinary school is indeed worth it. Whether it’s for career changers hoping to be the next Bobby Flay or those looking to become executive chefs at their family-owned restaurants, most of our respondents agreed that culinary school is necessary to achieve their goals.

It’s important to note, however, that deciding whether or not to attend culinary school is a very personal decision. Everyone’s reasons vary, from wanting to make their own food to just simply wanting a better quality of life. Some people even use culinary school as a means to learn new skills that can benefit them in other areas of their life, like cooking for their loved ones.

The results also showed that when it comes to culinary awards, the opinions of industry experts are crucial. The survey revealed that most chefs believe that the Michelin Stars, which are awarded based on an independent evaluation of restaurants, are of the highest caliber and deserve to be recognized. Others, however, prefer the Gault Millau system, which places a greater emphasis on taste and is not regulated by government bodies.

Both systems, however, have their own share of controversy. For example, the Michelin Guide has been criticized for not taking reports of harassment and abuse into consideration when awarding or withholding stars, while the century-old Gault Millau continues to duck calls to be more transparent about how it determines its winners.

Despite the controversy, these awards continue to be highly sought-after by chefs and restaurants alike. Last year, the first James Beard Awards since the #MeToo movement, saw New York chefs and restaurants snubbed in most national categories, with the exception of a win for the city’s only Nigerian tasting menu restaurant, Dept of Culture, as well as a victory for Flatiron Korean steakhouse Cote in the outstanding restaurant category.