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how long do you have to be in school to be a chef/food manger

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Ray’s Answer

You don't need to be in school to become a food manager or a chef. You need to find a program, restaurant, and/or situation in which someone is willing to teach, coach, develop, and share their knowledge and experiences with you.
Some of the better chefs have learned from experience and came from situations where someone was will to share their wealth of knowledge. Even a renowned chef for the Food Network has admitted to not having a culinary degree from a formal institution, but yet they were able to learn under someone who was willing to be unselfish and share the wealth.

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Mark’s Answer

You actually don't need to go to school to be a chef/kitchen manager. It does help though. I recommend smaller community programs that will pay for you to get your manager servsafe certification. That's really the only piece of paper you need is the one telling the health department you are a safe food handler. The main thing with any job is that attaining higher education shows that you can persevere, but its not the only metric.

That said, your main question, it's a big one. If being a chef to you means having a title and the responsibily of running a kitchen, it's not hard to get - work hard, be teachable, reliable, be able to communicate effectively and teach others. Move your way up the ladder and keep excelling and someone will trust you to run things in their absense. There are lots of kitchens out there and lots of opportunities to manage one it just takes time and experience learning all the pieces and then taking on roles like line lead, assistant kitchen manager, or sous chef.

Being a chef, like a working, creative, food magician - takes years of training, it's more like a lifelong thing. Honing your palette, amassing technique after technique, reciting recipes inside and out, that takes a lot of dedication and intelligence.

At the highest level, food is not just tasty, if you want to get philosophical, it's a dialogue between you and the person eating it. Are you capable of expressing who you are as a person in one dish? It's not easy.

On the everyday level, our job as chefs is to feed people and prevent food waste as much as possible, while trying to retain enough staff to execute service and maintain the kitchen. Most of these are not skills you will learn in school. Sure, if a vegetable is starting to go, can I dehydrate it, pickle it, or put it in today's soup. All of this I can learn in school or online. But the day-to-day I only learned from working in kitchens for years solving problems like how can I get better at using my ingredients? How can I keep my staff engaged enough to keep working harder and harder? Is my kitchen up to code? Will my ansell system pass inspection this year? Did Ramon remember to hose out trash cans last night like I asked? Is Mario going to show today or be a no call no show? Is my delivery going to be accurate? When am I going to have time to write the schedule? These questions and so much more are the day to day issues. Experience, patience, and the ability to teach yourself. If you can do it, you're in.

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Leonardo’s Answer

Some of my colleagues took 2-4 years to finish culinary school. However just because you finished school doesn't mean you get to be a manager the year after. Every kitchen is similar in their day to day so experience in another establishment is key.

If you started at a restaurant as a dishwasher and got your food handlers card, you can shadow your superiors. Learn and in 2-3 years if you do as your chef says and exceed it you can be a manager or a lead. Then your pay goes up and if you keep that position for more than 2years you can get any manager position at any restaurant.