Dish Dogg or School Boy
I always get asked where I went to school. Whether it's from a guest at the chef's counter or a new employee watching me break down a chicken. I usually chuckle for a sec and respond "I never went to school." It's not that I didn't want to, it just didn't work out. I just decided to go the not so glorious path... through the dish pit.
Now what ever way you choose to get your feet into the culinary world are the same in my eyes. Either way your going to have to work your way up. Your not going to come out of culinary school and be an Executive Chef. And your not doing that out of the dish pit either. You will just have to work at it differently, whatever path you choose.
If you go to school, you'll have tuition fees, classes and school work. Most likely you'll have to stage at a restaurant for free and cut your teeth that way. Then get an entry level position like pantry and work your way up. If your in the dish pit you'll have to show your a hard worker, willing to grind through the steam and burnt pans. Watching the prep cooks peel potatoes and the cooks working the line. You will have to study on your own time and pay close attention when putting dishes away around the cooks. Because one day some one will call out or fuck up and you will get your chance.
Both ways to the top are legit ways to becoming a chef. But don't have a thought in your mind It will come easy. I had a line cook come up to me in the office the other week and asked if he should just go to school so he can come out a Chef. I laughed in his face and sat him down and told him it doesn't work that way. Dude you don't just come out an Executive Chef, you have to put in time and effort, grind for a year or two and then you can start moving up the ladder. The degree can help you get in the door "sometimes" but being a hard worker with a passion to learn will get you farther then anything else.
I knew I wanted to be a Chef the first time I was a dishwasher. It just seemed right. The attitude and vibe of the kitchen was so FUCK YOU attitude that I knew I would love it. So from that day forward I pursued the path of becoming a Chef. It wasn't easy I had my road blocks. You had to be cut throat. Be better then all the dishwashers and out prep the prep cooks when you had a chance. Take peoples jobs was my attitude. It worked out for me, but I constantly studied outside of work because I didn't have the schooling to go with it. On the other side I was getting kitchen experience first hand and had that to my advantage. Thats the biggest difference of both worlds.
Both choices for the route you want to take are the right choice. Just choose the one that best fits you. I chose the Dish Dogg route.