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Cooking Degrees - Yum!

Tony Holmes, a recent high school graduate and aspiring chef, realized his passion for the creation and preparation of food almost by accident, through an elective culinary class he chose to take his junior year. "I wasn't necessarily interested in [the culinary arts] at first -- I just took the class for fun," says Tony. But through his classroom experience, he discovered his passion for cooking. "You get to interact with so many different people, and be creative with food," he says. "That's what I love about it."After realizing his true love for all things culinary, Tony enrolled in the After School Matters program, a non-profit organization dedicated to supplying Chicago teens with unique after school opportunities, which in his case meant a culinary apprentice program. Through After School Matters, Tony has gotten plenty of hands-on experience preparing and serving meals to others. "It's like school and work combined -- you get to learn while getting real world experience," he says. Each week, the students have a different theme, and all the meals they serve follow that theme. Next week, for instance, it's going to be all Irish cuisine for the folks who sample the students' dishes.Preparing such a wide variety of foods has inspired Tony to learn everything he can about all aspects of the culinary industry. "Most people end up going into either baking and pastry or savory," says Tony. "But I want to try to do both." For those who aren't familiar with cooking degrees lingo, "savory" refers to the study of entrees, while baking and pastry is more bread and dessert-oriented. And to become an expert in both areas takes an especially devoted and highly motivated student.OK, so I love cooking -- now what? For aspiring chefs, the typical length of time needed to earn their cooking degrees is between two and four years. "Two years focused on cooking, and two years learning about the business," says Tony, who plans on completing his bachelor's degree in Chicago after earning his associate's degree at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA, Hyde Park, NY). During his senior year of high school, Tony was accepted into CIA, but faced the threat of not being able to attend due to financial difficulties. However, as his high school graduation was approaching, Tony placed first in a culinary competition sponsored by the Careers to Culinary Arts Program (CCAP). The prize? A full scholarship to CIA, where he plans on starting in January 2007."It pretty much humbled me because there are people out there who weren't able to be in the competition who are probably better than me," he says, regarding his first place finish. "Sometimes I still can't believe I'm going [to CIA] -- my parents didn't really want me to go out of state -- but I'm just ready. I'm not scared at all." Many students pursue cooking degrees at CIA, but for Tony, this is a dream come true. "I just want to learn everything -- whatever they throw at me, I want to learn it."A taste of "real world" cooking... The CCAP competition wasn't Tony's first culinary victory. In the summer of 2005, he won another scholarship to study for one week at the Le Cordon Bleu London Culinary Institute, one of the most prestigious global culinary institutions. Aside from loving his experience so much that he wishes he could go back and "do it all over again," it also helped land him a job at Avec, a well-known Chicago restaurant."It's one of the best restaurants in Chicago, and I do a lot of prep work," he says. Prep work, in the world of cooking degrees, means getting things ready for the chefs working the "line" in the kitchen. That means doing things like making sure the right ingredients and garnishes, like parsley, are ready, and making dough or taking care of any basic food preparation the cooks may need. "They're unique and different with their food, and I do a lot of watching and learning about how to make different dishes," Tony says of his observations at Avec.Beyond the classroom... As far as his future goals, Tony hopes to open his own place, design his own menu, and serve his customers some of the best food out there. "I eventually do want to own my own restaurant," Tony says. "The dream situation would be to start working at a restaurant, and then have the owner approach me about becoming a partner." Although he's mainly got cooking degrees on his mind right now, Tony has put some thought into what sort of restaurant he'd like to run. "Most likely, it's going to be like a fine dining restaurant -- not extremely fancy, but still nice," he says. He also plans on combining American cuisine with Italian and French foods to create interesting and appealing taste combinations for his customers.His advice to other aspiring chefs? "You have to be passionate about it, and you have to love to cook for other people," he says. "The stuff you see on The Food Network makes it look easy, but it's a lot of hard work." Even with all the perks, such as meeting new people and getting to do what you love, Tony insists that without passion, you won't make it very far. "There is a downside," he says. "The long hours -- sometimes you're out 'til one or two in the morning, and it can be very tiring and draining." 共2页: 上一页 1 [2] 下一页

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