If you want to develop a career in food preparation, why not begin by just gaining work experience in a restaurant? Even if this means waiting tables or working as a bartender, you can build your way up the career ladder to working in the kitchen. There's no reason why beginning a cooking career means you must be employed in the fanciest of restaurants either. A first job could mean just working at a local café. This will all be good experience in the long run.
Cook at Home
A great way of learning to cook without catering college is simply by cooking in your own home. You don't have to follow complicated Gordon Ramsay cookbook recipes, as one of the most effective means of understanding your strengths as a chef is to experiment with recipes of your own. The only danger in doing this is when you find yourself constantly cooking the same types of food over and over. Try to spice up your cooking repertoire by incorporating a range of exotic spices and other ingredients that will challenge your recipes. However, this is not to say that you should neglect famous recipes entirely in favour of your own concotions, as preparing well known meals will give you invaluable understanding of which foods complement each other while helping you recognise the nutritional value each ingredient has in a meal.
Understand Different Tastes
Having knowledge of the global eating tastes and the cultures from which such cooking comes from is also of huge benefit for an aspiring chef. In order to become conversant with this it is advisable to focus on recent developments in the culinary world and contemporary food preparation practices, like knowing how to cook organic produce meals and being aware of religious traditions that dictate specific preparations of food, such as kosher cooking.
One useful means of gaining the kind of cooking experience that yo would receive at catering school is by cooking meals for other people. A common mistake that aspiring chefs make is to only prepare meals for themselves which leaves them without a second opinion and unsurprisingly leads to a biased opinion of their own food. Cooking for other people, like your friends and family, is of value as it means getting feedback on your skills which allows you to prepare yourself for taking criticism, something that all chefs must prepare themselves for, as having food returned to you from a unsatisfied customer is a disheartening experience that even the finest chefs have experienced at some time in their lives.
Know Your Area of Expertise
If you want to make a name for yourself in the cooking world, it's useful to concentrate much of your time and resources into an area of cooking that you feel you are best suited to. You may find that your best talents belong in preparing confectionary desert dishes rather than spicy main courses. This in turn will give you an idea of what kind of restaurants to apply for work with. Very few chefs are able to produce first class results in all areas of cooking. You might find the best way to understand this your best skills is by joining a caering agency operating in the city you live in or near.