My classes are a mixture of people with different experiences. Some have worked in restaurants since they were teenagers, others only lately, and some not at all when they started school.
I was slightly under the last category. I have worked in the back of fast food kitchen restaurants as a chicken cook, but what I am learning now doesn’t feel anything close to what I did then. In fast food the menu never changed and if it did it was only putting a different sauce to the meal, nothing more.
Coming to school to learn how to become a cook was a great step for myself, but not everyone. From the stories I have heard from other chefs visiting our school, college was a not a step they all took. A couple completed a few months of it before they dropped out and others didn’t attend at all.
With enough experience a cook can skip college completely and make it in a kitchen, become an apprentice, and even write their Red Seal as long as they are working under a chef who has theirs.
For me that sounds like an impossible route. I couldn’t imagine not going to college to get a diploma of proof of what I’ve done. It just seems unlikely to me that I could make it in a kitchen without the school training helping me along with whatever my chef would want.
I suppose it is just the type of learner I am. I do better in the theoretical than the practical first, with step-by-step guides helping me along when I am alone. Others may do terribly in the classroom but excel greatly when thrown straight into the busy environment.
Don’t take what I write as gospel though. You may feel you’re a hands on learner and skip college completely and find out you needed those three hour lectures to instruct you better. I suggest if you’re unsure you should go visit the culinary college of your interest. Meet the chefs, see the kitchens and watch the students. It just might make you decide if you want to go into studies or just dive in to the career.