Monday, July 20, 2009

Seeking advice and opinions

As you've probably noticed, I love to cook. What you don't know, is I actually considered culinary college after high school. Like seriously considered it. I never mentioned it to my parents though thinking they would never have gone for that. Now in retrospect I'm thinking, I should have just gone! I hate having regrets, but it is the one thing I do regret. So now, after having spent 4 years getting my undergrad in journalism and then 3 more years getting a grad degree in publications design, I'm considering more school to go after my first love - cooking.
Our local Baltimore culinary school, Baltimore International College, has a professional certificate in cooking and baking. This evening program costs about $6,000 and will take about a year to complete. At the end of it, I would love to open up a specialty food store that offers various cooking classes by local chefs - and maybe a few classes here and there taught by yours truly. There was a place like this in Baltimore a few years ago, but it closed it's doors. I always thought it was the perfect business. I can combine my love of food with my love of learning and meeting new people - hence the classes. I'd like to keep the store and classes in the Italian culinary vein for the most part. I'm Italian, I know Italian food and I feel most comfortable sharing my knowledge and love for it than any other cuisine. I can picture it becoming a small family shop - I'd love to have my mom help me choose products, have my husband help with all the details and see my dad selling people hunks of sharp provolone cheese! He looks like Tony Soprano so he'd fit right in. Anyway, as you can see I've thought about this a lot.
How do I start this? I don't know. I am thinking the first step is the professional certificate. It will hopefully get me acclimated to the idea of making food a career. But is it worth it? If you gone to culinary school, have you really learned more than you can just learn "in the trenches" of the kitchen? Or should I just get a few good books on starting your own business and go from there? It will be years before I realize this dream of course, but I'm at such a loss as to where to start. I'm probably rambling something awful, but I felt like this was a good forum for voicing my concerns and questions about this issue. Hoping to hear from those who have made a career change or taken a leap of faith. It's exciting and scary, but I also feel like it's now or never.


Cate said...

I was really close to applying to CIA after high school, and while I sometimes regret it, I like the options that a regular degree have given me.

Honestly, I'm really torn on culinary school... for what you want to do I think you could definitely get away with not going. But if it's a dream to go and you can afford it, then why not?

Lisa said...

Thanks Cate! You have some good points and share a lot of my same thoughts. Maybe before I do the school thing, I'll pick up a book or two on starting a business, making a business plan and see how I feel. Surprisingly there are actually books specific to opening a speciality food store! There's a book for everything these days I guess LOL.

Stephanie said...

I have been toying with the idea of going to pastry I think you should go for it! It might be a good idea to go ahead and do a business plan because for that business you might not necessarily need a culinary degree, but I'm sure having the degree would give your business more credibility, if that make sense.

foodhoe said...

Wow, what a great dilemma! There's something about taking the leap, going full bore and making the commitment.