Would-be top chefs face a challenge that most lawyers, engineers or nurses do not: few jobs in their chosen field pay enough for them to retire their student loans. Culinary school graduates are struggling to make their monthly loan payments in an industry where "the average hourly wage for a restaurant cook was $9.86." With two-year culinary school tuitions and supplies closing in on $50,000 "as many as 11 percent of graduates at some culinary schools are defaulting on federal student loans."
Yikes. Anyone considering culinary school should spend some time getting some real world restaurant experience (and don't count your high school fast food job). Not only will see if you really like it, you'll get a sense of how much you can learn on the job and how much you're likely to make. Then you can do the calculations and decide if attending the Culinary Institute of America for $90,000 makes sense.
I spent time working in a professional kitchen, trying to decide if I wanted to go to culinary school. Ultimately I decided not to, in part because I couldn't see how I'd get any kind of return on my educational investment. I knew I'd have to work at least ten years of insane hours to make any progress in a real kitchen, and at my age, that didn't make sense. Other goals (like marriage and a family) would have made the requisite commitment very difficult.
I know the culinary schools aren't going to like to hear this, but I think you're better off learning on the job. Even if you work for free (because you don't know what you're doing), you'll only be spending money on food and rent, and maybe after work booze -- don't think you'll have time for much other life. Within a few months, you should learn enough to get on the payroll in somebody's kitchen. It's hard to imagine you'd be even $25,000 in the hole by that time.