Cooking Myth #1: You need a formal culinary education to be a great cook.

March 26th, 2007 by Jeff in General Cooking

This myth angers me more than any other. I talk to some people who have a feeling of hopelessness in the kitchen because they feel they need to spend thousands of dollars at a culinary institute in order to be considered a great cook. Unless you plan on working in a world class kitchen in Paris or New York City, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Much of what they teach you in these schools has nothing to do with cooking, but more about working in a restaurant which is a completely different thing. For those who just want to be a great cook do not need to know all the details about the proper way to maintain stable temperature in commercial refrigerators, or how to organize line cooks.

Now there is nothing wrong with taking courses in cooking and it can be very fulfilling. A four year degree however is not necessary if you want to make great unique dishes for your family, friends, or even your own establishment. There are many famous restaurants in this world that were started by those who only had the love of cooking as their guide.

Instead of worrying about credentials, think about all of your actual cooking experience. Learning new recipes teaches you more than you realize. How many times have you prepared a dish you have never tried before and found similarities with other recipes you have made? This should tell you right there that you already have an culinary education.

Before you consider dropping a knot of cash on a myriad of courses, search internally first. Surely there are other great cooks in your family or circle of friends. The next time you get together, bring up the subject, or see if you can join in a cooking session with them. You can only learn new things when cooking with others. I myself have several friends who cook personally or professionally and we bounce ideas off of each other almost every time we get together. I can’t imagine how limited my abilities would be if I never talked cooking with others.

You should also never forget your television. If you have a VCR or DVR, then set it up to schedule cooking shows that interest you. Many of those programs will show you techniques and flavor combinations that you had never thought of before. This doesn’t mean you have to cook everything you see on T.V., but almost every show will give new insight on current or future recipes that you may prepare. Myself, I have a Tivo DVR and I can scroll through all of the cooking shows that will be showing in the next two weeks. Usually there is a decent description of what the host will be doing on each episode. I can select which ones I want to watch and view them when time allows.

Now none of what I have said should ever discourage someone from attending a culinary school. If that is your passion, it can only help you. However, do keep in mind that cooking is only an extension of yourself and your creativity. Many of the greatest artists in the world never had any formal training and just like painting, cooking is an art form. There are no bad dishes unless you yourself are unsatisfied with them. Cooking is not about competition any more than you can compete one song over another. If your recipe gives you and yours pleasure, then it, and you, are a success.

In conclusion, lose your fear of not being able to compete. You are, or can be, a great cook. What others are doing has nothing to do with what your mind can create. A formal education is nice, but not a prerequisite to cook.

Next Myth: Every Dish Must Be A Masterpiece

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Get My Cookbook Today!

Built by a member of