To go in front of a teacher or in front of an oven?

I managed a pizzeria for 4 years during college. It taught me the very basics of pizza making and resturaunt management but admittedly, there is still a great deal I need to research and learn before I even begin to think of opening a place of my own. One thing I am wrestling with is whether or not to spend the next year (or 2) in a culinary arts or culinary management program. In my experience, most owners I have talked to learned what they know behind the counter slinging pies in front of an oven and running a shop until they could afford their own. Obviously education has its benefits but my question is: is it necessary? Or would I benefit more from getting in a shop and running it for a period? For those of you who are running profitable pizzeria’s, what path did you take to get to where you are at?

In todays more sophisticated markets my answer would be go in front of the teacher for the management side whilst working hands on to learn the “tricks” of the trade in a store.

Although most of us call ourselves Mum & Dad (Mom & Pop for you in USA) operations the reality is that unless you are up to speed with business management you will more than likely fail.

M & P stores that are successful and prosper are now really small enterprises. You just have to look at the bookkeeping systems we now use (Quicken etc), POS instead of the old till system and the mirad of other systems now used to keep accuarate records and to comply with taxes, wages etc.

How often have you seen a great chef open his own business only to go belly up because he didn’t know the management side. Conversely the same can be said about good managers who don’t know the finer points of running a business (although they can get good chefs / staf to run the hands on side).

For mine … go for both and give yourself a better chance of succeeding from the start.


The best way I have mastered any job is through an apprenticeship. The on the job experience is suplimented with classroom training. I happen to live in a country where there are opportunities to apprntice in cuninary arts as a registered trade and those who do are often better than the students that just have the degree and no practical experience.
Business management is more than making the best pizza in town. You would be well advised to do both classroom and on the job learning. It is hard to learn the details of business accounting, law and taxation on the job and just as difficult to learn how to interact with customers and employees in a classroom.

So the short answer is do both.