Here's my advice for future culinary professionals. There are many different paths people take to become chefs, whether it involves starting with an educational training or on-the-job training. I have worked with many talented cooks and chefs who have come from both sides. I myself chose to enroll in a 2-year pastry program at my local community college (because it was more affordable) after receiving my Bachelor's from a 4-year school. I then proceeded to start from the bottom as a pastry cook and worked my way up through the ranks, picking up all the necessary knowledge and training on the way that is best learned from real-life experience.
Understanding that it takes time to master techniques and gain the experience to learn the ins and outs of restaurant kitchens is key. It is a place that requires a lot of hard work, perseverance, and drive if you want to stay the course. Also know that restaurants aren't the only context you can apply any cooking skills you acquire. You can move into catering, corporate catering, private chef positions, school programs, test kitchens for various publications and media outlets, and so on. I've included the words of Anthony Bourdain himself for some additional advice, because he was never afraid of the truth. I've also included a link below for career options that can be considered outside of the traditional restaurant setting.
If the structured educational path is the chosen starting point, look into local programs in your area: the cost, time-frame, and commitment are all factors that should be weighed against other well known programs like the Culinary Institute of America, Le Cordon Bleu, or the Institute of Culinary Education that can cost a bit more and may require you to move.
If you want to forgo school and jump right into cooking, be prepared to start at the bottom! You may need to start as a dishwasher or prep cook, learning all the necessary knife skills that are the base of the culinary world. But if you put in the work, you can move through the positions of the line and learn so much in real time, while getting paid in the process. See what restaurants or businesses around you are looking for entry level help and are willing to train as you go.
Happy cooking to all!
Real advice from Anthony Bourdain:
Culinary positions outside of restaurants:
Pros and Cons (while the numbers may have changed, the general points are relevant):
Traditional education programs: