I was six years old when I decided that I wanted to be a chef. I recently turned 19 and nothing has changed. I spent this last Thanksgiving making the turkey, just as I have every year since I was 11, and I look forward to my second kitchen internship over winter break. 

So where's the trouble? As a future chef, I wonder, "why waste all this time in school crying through chemistry when I could just dive head-first into work?" 

milk, chocolate, coffee
Jocelyn Hsu

Honestly, it's because I'm not quite ready for the real world yet.

While there's no doubt in my mind that becoming a chef is my future, I'm taking the road less traveled. I'm not starving and broke in creaky apartment in Paris, or have scarred hands from burns like any struggling chef. Instead, I sit in lecture halls with tiny desks, wielding a pen instead of a knife. I realize that I'm a 19-year-old at a university, and that I have the world at my feet. 

As much as I would like to believe that calculus is still harder than the struggles of the kitchen lifestyle, I know that college is the last chance that I'll ever have to be irresponsibly free. 

apple, pear
Hana Brannigan

Sometimes, I try to convince myself that I'll stand out in the culinary world because UCD has the best food science and viticulture program in the country. But it's also possible that I'll learn more about my career in the first five minutes of work than four years of biochemistry application in a classroom.

I want to be able to sing a little bit more with my amazing a cappella family, and write for Spoon about all of Manila's chocolate cakes--opportunities I wouldn't have if I chose work over school. 

Iwant to prepare myself to use only my head, push myself to learn things I thought I'd never be able to understand, and above all figure out the woman that I want to be.

beer, wine
Spoon University

I want to conquer New York City. I want to be a sous chef by the time I'm 25. I want to be on the 30 under 30 list. I want to make my mentors proud.

Even if school delays me, I'm not worried, because my goals are clear. Culinary school and everything else after that will come later. There is no doubt in my mind that I am a chef-in-the-making. Every person in this industry chooses and follows their own path. This one just happens to be mine. 

tea, coffee
Allan Mai