This post was inspired by the Advice on going to culinary school blog entry on Slashfood. My comment got kinda long, so I'm posting it in full here.
If you've ever wondered about going to culinary school, please let me offer you this advice:
GO! GO!! GO!!! Even if you never plan on making it a career. Even if you only intend cook for yourself and your family & friends. Find a way to pay for it, and make the time to go to classes. It will be the best investment you can ever make. You will amaze yourself at how good food can be. You will understand why a fabulous meal at a nice restaurant costs around $50 an entrée.
The best part is that learning how to cook pays off immediately. Eating well is a pleasure you can enjoy forever. Cooking well is a skill you will use for the rest of your life, and each cooking experience builds upon the next. You will never stop learning you'll never stop experimenting. If that's your thing, do it, and you'll never regret it.
The worst part, tho, is that you'll become so accustomed to eating delicious food that is properly made, going to anything less than an excellent restaurant will be a disappointment.
You'll still crave -and enjoy!- going to WhiteCastle, In&Out, or Whataburger (and onion-smothered pattymelts!) but going to a place that offers a $10.99 combo meal that includes soup, salad and dessert will make you want to go back into the kitchen and beat the cooks with their own spoons.
And after your Safety & Sanitation classes, you'll never go near a salad bar again. Ever.
So, if you are considering whether to make cooking your career, yes the hours are long and the work is hard and the pay is meager. But if you love to feed people, and you love to eat well, the rewards are phenomenal.