Can you become a chef if you only attended Culinary Arts in 1 year?
Absolutely. Unlike professions like doctors or lawyers, there is no schooling requirement for being a chef. There is, however, a very high standard for experience. If you work your way up through the ranks in a kitchen over several years, you have plenty of ground to stand on, and in comparison being a cooking school graduate may not get you too far if you aren't good at it.
I've been working at a cooking school for about 5 years now, and I've actually met chefs who prefer trainees who haven't been to culinary school, with the idea that in the current world - where there are so many dynamic changes and a strong focus on individuality and adaptation - having traditional methods instilled into you early can actually hinder you form learning by professional experience.
Yes, but it will take 6–10 years minimum of working in restaurants. I became a ‘chef' at 35 after working in restaurants off and on for 20 years. I ran the kitchen at a members only private sports club for a few years. I certainly wasn't the greatest chef ever but I knew how to organize events, control costs, hire staff and consistently prepare food that the membership and their guests enjoyed. Going into the gig I had about 8 years of accumulated kitchen experience and 10 of serving/bartending/floor management. After that gig I worked as the GM of a busy gastro-pub for 4 years before leaving the industry. I also became the ‘chef' of the gastro-pub as after hiring and firing several ‘chefs' it became easier to do the job myself.
A couple of the ‘chefs' I hired and fired were recent culinary school graduates who had no idea how to function in the real world. One ordered 4 cases (4 x 4.2l) of fairly pricey balsamic vinegar even though we only used 1–2 cups a week to make salad dressing. When I mentioned the concept of "dead stock" he looked at me like I had 2 heads. Restaurants are tricky businesses and you need to be very nimble with the money you spend. You can't learn that in school.