Top Chef's Gail Simmons is now an entrepreneur-in-residence at Babson College, and she hosted a live discussion with their Food Sol industry group today. One chatter asked if culinary school was a prerequisite for success. Simmons, a culinary school graduate herself, had blunt words.
"Basically, NO. You do not HAVE to go to culinary school to be respected in the industry at all. Some of the best and brightest chefs in the world didn't go to culinary school (Tom Colicchio and Thomas Keller among them). All you need is the drive to work hard and then to find a place where you can grow, start at the bottom and be willing to put in the time required to learn everything needed to really become an expert in your craft," she replied.
P.S. She wants to write a cookbook. [Facebook/Food Sol]