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How to Survive Culinary School

Andrew Garrison | Chef's Blade

Structure Your Life

A successful kitchen is a well-structured kitchen. Your instructors will beat this fact into you. You’ll need to be neat, sanitary, organized, punctual, and adaptable at work. I’m not saying be an anal-retentive neat freak, because I sure as hell am not. Still, try to give yourself a routine and stick to it. School can be tough, and if you’re working as well, it can be even harder. Setting a routine can take some of the edge off that. I was pretty much a robot during school: I had class from 7:00 a.m. to 11:30 am. Monday through Friday, and worked 40+ hours a week. That’s a little excessive and puts you in the danger zone of burning out (I’ll admit I skipped class every once in a while to give myself a mental-health day), but I got through it. My favorite pastime is running, so every day after class I’d go for a 6-mile run, eat a little lunch, and then head to work, go to bed, wake up, and repeat. I went out with friends on weekends, and every once in a while during the week. You certainly don’t need to be that robotic about it, but make sure that you set aside time for something you enjoy that ISN’T cooking related. Being a one-track-mind kind of person can be helpful in this industry, but don’t let it completely consume you, because even though you might forget sometimes, there IS life outside the kitchen.

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