M: We got this email from Heart, a consistent honor student since kindergarten. She excelled in sciences and math. She said it is most likely that she will graduate as class valedictorian. She wants to take up Culinary Arts. But people are discouraging her. They’re telling her she is too bright to be “just” a chef. Heart, don’t listen to them. Pursue your passion and bloom where you are planted. Being a chef is a great thing to do. You are young, bright and know what you want. Don’t let other people’s dreams come true when you have your own. Who knows after culinary arts, you will want to pursue other opportunities?
DJ: To make sure I’m correctly understanding the field, I did my research and learned that Culinary Arts is more than learning the skills and knowledge required to be a chef. It also teaches how to create new dishes, ensure safety and how to efficiently and effectively run a kitchen. The rigors of real kitchen life are a thousand times more intense than cooking with momshies Jolina, Karla and Melai. Knives are said to be sharper, stoves are hotter, plus the Gordon Ramsey level of expectation as everything moves at a sprint-like pace. To be successful, one needs to have a deep appreciation for food, culture, health, process and smarts. I’m not surprised if a bright young lady such as Heart is looking at such a possibility with puppy dog eyes!
M: If it’s your family, especially your parents telling you to pursue something other than Culinary Arts, it will also be good to listen to them. Since you have the interest and most likely the passion to go into Culinary Arts, they might also want you to learn about business or management so you can have the skills or background to scale your culinary skills. They see your potential in other fields and are just giving you options so you can make an informed judgment. It might also be good to tell other people to mind their own business. It’s you who will be studying, not them!
DJ: Well-meaning people who’ve been through the highs and lows of life can have wise opinions which Heart should not ignore. But ultimately, it’s her life. Thus, it should be her decision. Is her desire to be a chef stronger than what people think or say? She’s got to resolve this first as everything in the kitchen is oftentimes sharp and hot. Literally and figuratively. This is not just a course. This is going to be her life. Culinary school will show her the basics but it will be her who will have to push herself to cooking stardom. Her options, though, are also not confined to her becoming a chef. She can pursue catering, writing, food styling and photography, vlogging, even hosting a TV show! The possibilities are limitless for someone with brains and discipline like her. She only has to make sure this is what she wants and where her heart truly is.
M: We must stand up for what we believe in but we must also learn to listen and accept guidance and good counsel. It is possible that you will change your mind and decide to do something else when you’re already in culinary school. Or you can also finish culinary school and proceed to another course like medicine or law. With education, nothing is lost. One can gain not just knowledge or skills but also acquire a better perspective or appreciation of life in general. Keep on keeping on. Study, learn and pursue excellence in whatever you do. And enjoy the benefits and advantages of education and bettering oneself.
DJ: Excellence in Math and Science can open doors for her in NASA or at the Department of Education. But being shackled to a job she can’t stand is sad. Kitchen life, from words of successful chefs, is often a high-stress environment that can cause burnout. Pun intended. But as the wise say, anyone with the “why” will be able to figure out “how.” She is no class valedictorian for nothing. Heart deserves to be the best of who she can be. Nothing short of that.