Categorized | Culinary School

Trading in my stilettos for steel-toe shoes

Posted on 14 September 2010 by Mădălina

Grammar and spelling mistakes aside, I’ve always been somewhat of a perfectionist. Growing up, I was ‘that student’. The ‘always on time, near the top of the class, annoying teachers-pet kind’.

Enter university. I had a real tough time adjusting to university. For the first time in my life, my best no longer got me to the top of the class. By standards, I was doing well, but not in the way I was used to before.

The big fish was taken out of the little pond, placed into an ocean, where I had to compete with the sharks. Most people adjust, but for me, the perfectionist, this transition took longer.

In my second year at Queen’s University, I had a panic attack because I realized I hated what I was studying, felt majorily inferior, and couldn’t really sleep at night.

I had a sit-down with one of my professors, and he asked me what my happy-place was. The answer? You’re probably starting to put the pieces together by now, but yep, my happy place was in the kitchen (save your woman/sandwhich jokes for someone else).

The kitchen was one place where I could screw-up royally, and it didn’t really bother me. I mean, yah sure, my ego takes a little bit of a blow, but deep down, a mistake is an opportunity to get it right next time.

I ended up taking my professors advice and created a medium to help me seek refuge from my academic struggles.

By third year, I found my groove, and stuck around for another year to graduate (with honors). It was around this time when it became clear that I wanted to go to culinary school.

The strangest part in all of this, is that even though deciding to go to culinary school feels right, I’ve spent the last few months trying to sell my friends and family on this idea. Some are extremely supportive, but most are extremely skeptical– I think I’m going to have to go with my gut feeling on this one.

Over the next two years, I’m going to be doing that whole ‘following my heart’ bit; the idea is to prove to a lot of people that its not a mistake to do so.

Wish me luck. Culinary school, here I come


21 Comments For This Post

  1. Ellie Di Says:

    CONGRATS! It's always a big change when you shift gears to a new life goal, but I know you can do it. (shakes the pompoms)

  2. Tanja Says:


  3. Heather Says:

    Best of luck! It takes a lot of guts to follow your dreams like that. I am impressed.

  4. Lazaro Cooks! Says:

    Wonderful post. Well-written and informative. I am glad I found your blog and look forward to following your here.

    Best of luck in culinary school.

  5. cookies and cups Says:

    congrats…you'll do great.

  6. oneordinaryday Says:

    Good for you!

  7. Nadine Says:

    Congratulations!! You are going to do awesome!! I hope you'll keep the blog going so we can follow your culinary school adventures!

  8. mădălina Says:

    THANK You guys for the overwhelming support:D .

    I'm blogging (or at least trying to blog) my way through my experience– obviously.

  9. Chocolate Freckles Says:

    Congrats!!! Best of luck!!! I also started my baking arts certificate at george brown last saturday. I am doing it as continuous education as I already made the mistake of becoming a marketer and working on CPG companies for the past 3 years!! I cannot quit as easy now but I am starting to live my baking dream too!!!..

  10. Ashleigh Says:

    I wanted to say, after reading this post — this is MY life. I am a junior at Penn State, yet I just spent my Saturday night… boiling bones and making a broth for pho and roasting a pumpkin to make my own puree because I’m making pumpkin scones tomorrow. I cannot wait to graduate, so that I can attend culinary school. Your post is EXACTLY me.

    I was valedictorian of my high school, I decided to go to a big university because I thought it’d suit me. I was a double science major for 2 years, hoping to be a doctor. Then my 4th semester I had a total meltdown. I realized: I will hate my life forever if this is the path I go. Meanwhile, I spent my wind-down hours baking for friends or anyone that would take the carbs out of my apartment.

    Then someone at work said: “why don’t you just go to culinary school?”

    I had never really been given that option, because my parents expected me to go to a 4 year school and be a doctor or lawyer, whatever. It hit me: this is what I need to do. So I have changed my major to a more management/entrepreneurial major… and there you have it!

    I’ve worked in restaurants since I was 14, and I’ve always loved the environment, and thrived in it. I am so excited to have found your blog and am bookmarking it, immediately!

  11. Trisha L Says:

    The best of luck to you!

    Our society does not make it easy to accept culinary school as a viable option for a career, but many people make it a wonderful life. I commend you for jumping outside of the box and following your dreams. It is a real shame that so many people in your life are not being 100% supportive. Because you know what? Even if you fall on your butt, you are living your life in a way that makes you happy right now. And NO ONE can change that. That is what life is all about.

    ps. Ive decided to embrace the kitchen/sandwich jokes because you know what? I am a modern woman/feminist but I love all that homemaker-y stuff. I feel sorry for everyone out there that doesn’t have something that gives them that wonderful warm feeling I get from baking something delicious for my friends/family or sewing my own clothes.

  12. Shaza Says:

    OMG, your story is SOOOOO VERY SIMILAR TO MINE!!!! I also had a panic attack around the same time as you in Uni and went from the U.S to Australia to study abroad! I found my love for food and went to culinary school and pursued a masters in food science! I’m a scientific chef!

  13. Erin Says:

    Hi! It’s Erin, I’m the one who goes to Queen’s and emailed you last year re: going to Queen’s and seeing if you’d decide to go into policy studies or culinary school and I’m SO happy you followed your heart! You don’t have to justify it to anyone – your blog and your passion say it all! Best of luck! xo

  14. My Carolina Kitchen Says:

    Good luck or bonne chance, as the French say, in Culinary School. It sounds very exciting and I’m glad you’ve figured out where you want you life to take you. From what I’ve seen on your blog, you’ll do extremely well.

  15. Isabel Says:

    This is truly inspiring, especially for someone who is loves baking and also wants to someday pursue her dream job in the culinary arts. I’m just a teenager, so hearing about how you followed your dream is amazing. Best of luck!

  16. Hema Says:

    Wow, your situation is so similar to mine at the moment. I’ve been struggling with my college classes for the longest. At the moment I’m just six classes away from my Biology BA but the stress is killing me. I hate my major and just don’t have a clue what I’ll do when I graduate. All I want to do in life is bake to my hearts content. Nothing satisfies me more then baking. I’m seriously contemplating attending culinary school after I graduate, however my family doesn’t like the idea one bit. It’s nice to see someone in the same boat, especially someone that’s clearly doing so well. =]

  17. Cristiana Anghel Says:

    Te admir, mădălina! bravo

  18. Michelle Says:

    What a great story, inspiring to say the least. Can I ask, where did you go to culinary school??

  19. k.z. Says:

    A pump is a very precise machine, your heart is one great pump, follow it and you will be always successfull.

  20. Lucy Says:

    Hello from across the pond!

    I stumbled across your blog on Foodgawker and it is so up my street and I am glad I found it. I also did well at university but have always had a passion for baking. I am not sure I would want to do it professionally but I would love to experience culinary school. I am currently jobless after completing both bachelors and masters degrees so seriously contemplating retraining if I do not find a job soon!

    I hope all is going well for you, keep up the good work and your creations are beautiful!

  21. Carol Says:

    It is amazing how many people I know, both young and middle-aged who have had anxiety attacks and meltdowns lately. People who not long ago appeared to be content and coping just fine.I don’t know why society seems so intense. I think we are so overwhelmed by changing technology and programming. Everyone wants things done yesterday. No one has any patience. I too had a meltdown. I was a grade 8 teacher who taught five different subjects,750 report cards to do, directed two choirs, band, dance and theater clubs. I ended up having a stroke. Since then I have given up teaching and have taken up breadmaking and cake decorating. I find it more relaxing and I can still be very creative. The bonus is people are happy to see me when I bring them treats. Good luck with culinary arts. Remember happiness and health is very important. Do what makes you happy.If you love to bake or cook go for it!

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