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Brief stories behind a few world-famous chefs

by Olivia DeWolfe
CulinaryEd Columnist
February 23, 2011

Julia ChildCulinary school is a serious commitment of time, energy and money. But if you have talent and passion for cooking, culinary school could be a career move for you. To add some perspective, you many want to stop and think about what others before you have done. Consider the careers of some of these world-famous chefs.

Culinary school isn't new

In 1948 at the age of 36, Julia Child traded in her career as a government research assistant after World War II to attend culinary school in Paris. Child banded with two of her classmates to form their own culinary school, L'Ecole de Trois Gourmandes and to write a cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Not only was their hefty volume voted the best cookbook five years running, it became the standard for Americans learning French cuisine.

Two degree programs can be better than one

Ming Tsai spent his junior summer away from his undergraduate work to attend a culinary school in Paris. After cooking under renowned pastry chef Pierre Herme and Sushi Master Kobayashi, Tsai earned his master's degree in hotel administration and hospitality marketing back in the U.S. These experience may have helped to prepare him for the immediate and enduring success of his award-winning restaurant Blue Ginger.

Doing something a little different

Jamie Oliver graduated from a catering culinary school in his native England. After some time working in France, he went on to cook at the famed River Cafe. It was during this 3.5-year stint that he landed his hugely successful "Naked Chef" BBC television series, specializing in Oliver's bare bones culinary arts style.

Anthony Bourdain is a New York chef who went to one of the most famous culinary schools in the country. Some highlights of his distinctive career include his international bestseller and its insider's take in "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly" and his Emmy award-winning television series "No Reservations," where he scours the culinary arts world in search of edible adventures.

Though these stories are inspiring, you don't need to become a world famous chef to jump start your career with a culinary degree program. You can, however, think of these chefs when you are in need of inspiration.

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