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My day at Le cordon Bleu culinary school Atlanta


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#1 Lesa D.

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Posted 22 April 2007 - 04:23 AM

Hey, fellow foodies, just thought I'd give you some good and bad news. I am so ready to take my home-schooling out of my home kitchen and get a really good education; I'm not getting any younger. So, on Thursday last, I spent about five hours at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts school here in Atlanta dealing with admissions, extensive interviewing, etc. They told me as soon as I sat down, that just because I was there, or had cash money on the spot to attend, that there was no guarantee that I would be accepted. They are very picky about whom the admit, which is understandable. What an amazing and beautiful school!
I want to attend the next day program (baking/patisserie) which starts in July. The next day program after that will start in January.
The best part of the whole day was meeting and speaking with two of the chefs there. While I was being given the tour, I was introduced to Chef Amos while she was out of her classroom. For ten minutes, I aksed her lots of food questions, especially about pate de fruit, which I've unsuccessfully made about six times. Well, guess what? Just across the hall at Chef Richard DiFonzo's class, they had made the pate just that morning, and she went and pulled him out of the class! He went into class, and brought out to me a small plate of samples (three of each) of passion fruit and cassis pate de fruit. I liked the cassis one better. Then, we went into the "student/master zone," and for 45 minutes(!), no joke, he spent time away from his class to answer questions and give me mini tutorials. We talked about his method for tempering chocolate, & pate de fruit. He took me INTO THE CLASSROOM, gave me a white choc/raspberry candy tasting, showed me the chocolate storage room (kept at 68o, of course), tore a piece off of a cardboard box of trasfer sheets so that I could get the address of the company where he gets his, then gave me his card and said to email him for the pate de fruit recipe that they use at the school.
How cool was that? I felt so honored that he would take so much of his precious time with me when I wasn't even a student yet! The poor tour guide had to just leave us there because she had another tour to give, and couldn't wait for us to finish up. I had to finish the tour with a grad student.
About 30 minutes after I got home, the admissions director called and interviewed me for about another hour. He said that he didn't normally do this, but he approved me on the spot! Again, how cool is that? He also said that because of my twenty years' baking experience (home business), and because of my age (45), that he felt that I could take a leadership role in the class, and that's what they really look for in their students. For the first time, being 45 finally counted for something! :wink:
Here's the rub: Financial aid called the next day, and here's how it works:
They get you a government loan, which covers only a small part of tuition. Then, they try to get you the Pell grant. If you get the Pell grant, you still have to give them around $9000.00, and if you don't, you have to give them about $12,000.00 This $9-12,000.00 has to be gotten from a private lending company. While on the phone, the company they use hooked up with me, did an instant credit check, and neither I, nor my co-signer were approved.
So, now my chances for getting into the July class are slim~the class is already half full, but maybe I can go in January. Either way, I need money, and I was hoping that someone out there might know of anyone who gives loans or grants to culinary students. This is Le Cordon Bleu, after all, and hopefully I wouldn't have a hard time finding a good job, and could pay back the money in a timely fashion. Any ideas? HELP!!! Thanks, Lesa

#2 paul o' vendange

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Posted 22 April 2007 - 05:24 AM

Hey, fellow foodies, just thought I'd give you some good and bad news.  I am so ready to take my home-schooling out of my home kitchen and get a really good education; I'm not getting any younger.  So, on Thursday last, I spent about five hours at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts school here in Atlanta dealing with admissions, extensive interviewing, etc. They told me as soon as I sat down, that just because I was there, or had cash money on the spot to attend, that there was no guarantee that I would be accepted.  They are very picky about whom the admit, which is understandable.  What an amazing and beautiful school!
I want to attend the next day program (baking/patisserie) which starts in July.  The next day program after that will start in January.
    The best part of the whole day was meeting and speaking with two of the chefs there.  While I was being given the tour, I was introduced to Chef Amos while she was out of her classroom.  For ten minutes, I aksed her lots of food questions, especially about pate de fruit, which I've unsuccessfully made about six times.  Well, guess what?  Just across the hall at Chef Richard DiFonzo's class, they had made the pate just that morning, and she went and pulled him out of the class! He went into class, and brought out to me a small plate of samples (three of each) of passion fruit and cassis pate de fruit.  I liked the cassis one better. Then, we went into the "student/master zone," and for 45 minutes(!), no joke, he spent time away from his class to answer questions and give me mini tutorials.  We talked about his method for tempering chocolate, & pate de fruit. He took me INTO THE CLASSROOM, gave me a white choc/raspberry candy tasting, showed me the chocolate storage room (kept at 68o, of course), tore a piece off of a cardboard box of trasfer sheets so that I could get the address of the company where he gets his, then gave me his card and said to email him for the pate de fruit recipe that they use at the school.
    How cool was that? I felt so honored that he would take so much of his precious time with me when I wasn't even a student yet!  The poor tour guide had to just leave us there because she had another tour to give, and couldn't wait for us to finish up.  I had to finish the tour with a grad student.
    About 30 minutes after I got home, the admissions director called and interviewed me for about another hour.  He said that he didn't normally do this, but he approved me on the spot!  Again, how cool is that? He also said that because of my twenty years' baking experience (home business), and because of my age (45), that he felt that I could take a leadership role in the class, and that's what they really look for in their students.  For the first time, being 45 finally counted for something! :wink:
    Here's the rub: Financial aid called the next day, and here's how it works:
They get you a government loan, which covers only a small part of tuition.  Then, they try to get you the Pell grant.  If you get the Pell grant, you still have to give them around $9000.00, and if you don't, you have to give them about $12,000.00  This $9-12,000.00 has to be gotten from a private lending company.  While on the phone, the company they use hooked up with me, did an instant  credit check, and neither I, nor my co-signer were approved.
    So, now my chances for getting into the July class are slim~the class is already half full, but maybe I can go in January.  Either way, I need money, and I was hoping that someone out there might know of anyone who gives loans or grants to culinary students.  This is Le Cordon Bleu, after all, and hopefully I wouldn't have a hard time finding a good job, and could pay back the money in a timely fashion.  Any ideas? HELP!!!  Thanks, Lesa

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Just a couple of resources, hope they're helpful:

Chef2Chef - database of culinary scholarships

article

I know, too, that this esteemed website also offers a variety of annual awards. I think the timing of your school won't work out for this next year, as the awards have been handed out, but FYI, eGullet works with the Culinary Trust to offer annual awards - perhaps if you don't end up going this year, you might look into it for next. Just one more good thing this community offers to the culinary world.

Best of luck; I hope you get the funding you need.
[size="3"]Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais[/size]

#3 Desiderio

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Posted 22 April 2007 - 09:14 AM

It sounds great!
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and edventure ( now you have to keep me posted on a regular basis here :laugh: )
It is comforting for me to see that after a certain age is still possible to pursue ones' dreams! I am in the same spot , but I am afraid I will have to wait few more years to do so,but seeing other accomplish it , makes me feel more at ease and maybe give me more hope for the future,since I grew up thinking that age is striclty reletad to work and you cant do everything you want if you past a certain age ( coming ffom another country , were age releted jobs , at least a while ago , are very strong).
Anyway, I want to compliment with you for you perseverance and wish you the best of luck.
Vanessa

#4 JeanneCake

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Posted 22 April 2007 - 09:55 AM

Do you have any other options available to you? Home equity line perhaps? Another bank or financial group to approach for a student loan? What does the school say about this sort of thing - maybe they can be some help in giving you the names of other companies to approach. Is there a chance they can get you a paid internship while you're enrolled? This way there's a source of income a lender can see some $ coming in (and going right back out to them! :biggrin: )

Good luck. You'll get there!

#5 alanamoana

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Posted 22 April 2007 - 12:52 PM

This is Le Cordon Bleu, after all, and hopefully I wouldn't have a hard time finding a good job, and could pay back the money in a timely fashion.  Any ideas? HELP!!!  Thanks, Lesa

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there are a lot of threads on eG discussing this very topic. please don't be disillusioned, but even at 45 years old, with your experience AND with a le cordon bleu 'degree' under your belt...what are the job prospects? have you done homework on this end? most entry level jobs (and without restaurant, hotel experience this is what you'll be looking for) pay around $9-12/hour. for a $20K loan, that will take an awfully long time to repay.

popping out of school, don't expect to be a pastry chef right off the bat. if you are doing this for self edification, that's one thing...but again, i wouldn't go broke doing it. if you're doing it to get into the business, again, i wouldn't go broke doing it because it doesn't pay well enough for it to be worthwhile. since you are 45 years old, are you settled where you live? would you be willing to move to another state to get a better job? i know that atlanta has a lot of great restaurants, but i'm not sure what the job market is like in those restaurants.

maybe getting a job in a restaurant first to see what it is like before jumping into school? ask to work for free for a few weeks in the pastry department...

and while i can't link to all of the threads, do a search and see what others have to say about starting culinary school.

#6 John DePaula

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Posted 22 April 2007 - 02:09 PM

I certainly don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade but please please please slow down and consider carefully. Alana has given you some very sage advice. If the class after the next term starts in January, well what’s wrong with that?

Volunteer to work someplace, for free!, for 3 months minimum before jumping into culinary school (and enormous debt) e.g. a pastry kitchen. You will learn so much on the job; not the least of which, “Is this really for me?”

LCB has a wonderful reputation in America, but is that reputation really deserved? After reading Julia Child’s book, My Life in France, I begin to wonder. Frankly, it bothers me a bit that the chef took 45 minutes of his time away from his class to court a potential new student. What about the people who already paid for his time?

LCB may indeed be the place for you but it’ll still be there in January.
John DePaula
DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

#7 John DePaula

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Posted 22 April 2007 - 02:19 PM

Take a look at David Lebovitz' article:
Should You Go To Culinary School?

As usual, good information presented in an entertaining way.
John DePaula
DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

#8 alanamoana

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Posted 22 April 2007 - 02:51 PM

john is of course more eloquent than i am, but please do take your time and consider it...especially if it will be a hardship to pay back the debt you incur.

also, please consider taking shorter classes from other schools around the country. while still expensive, they are more manageable and a great introduction to subjects that you can pick and choose. maybe the lcb in atlanta even offers a part-time or a continuing education type of program? explore ALL of your options before you dive in.

all of this advice is to be taken with a grain of salt as you are the only one who knows your own specific story better than anyone else, but it is certainly not meant to discourage you from finding ways to achieve your dreams :smile:

#9 ChristopherMichael

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Posted 22 April 2007 - 04:55 PM

THINK BEFORE YOU DO THIS!

Before I knew better, I enrolled in a Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, CA and it was the biggest mistake I ever made. It's funny that they're telling you they're picky about who they let in. That's so far from the truth it makes me laugh, because they cram as many people as they can possibly get into these schools. When I was attending they kept hiring chef instructors to try to keep up with the enrollment and not all of the chefs were what I would call teachers or even have the experience. Some of them were a few years out of culinary school themselves. Luckily I woke up when I did or I would be 50K in the hole. I ended up leaving midway through the program (taking about 4-5 other students with me) and finished at a community college, which was a couple of grand compared to 40-50k. Whats funny about the whole situation is that the community college kicked the crap out of the Le Cordon Blue schools in competitions. Speaking of competitions, a former student of the community college was a member of the US Pastry Team that won the gold at the world pastry competition a few years back. So for anyone to tell you that a expensive culinary school is better than a community college is an idiot. In the end it's what you put into it. Plus, if you go to a community college you can work in the industry while you're in school. I know a lot of people who did this and many of them where Sous or Executive chefs before they completed the program.

Just remember that you will have a $400-500 a month education loan payment every month after you graduate. When you're making $10 an hour after you graduate, you won't be so happy with that expensive education that would open every door (or at least that's what they tell you). Plan on living like a starving artist for a long time.

Anyway, this has been my experience and whenever I hear someone talking about going to these expensive schools, it makes me cringe. These schools hire used car salesman to sell you on this grand dream/idea and its bull crap.

Sorry for my rant, but I'm so anti-culinary schools it makes me blue in the face. I do have to admit though, that the French Pastry School in Chicago turns out a pretty good product and they're less than half of these other schools. Anyway, if I offended anyone, please forgive me, but when you have had an experience as I did at one of these schools, you would understand.

Remember, its what YOU put into it, it's not the school you attend!

#10 K8memphis

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Posted 22 April 2007 - 07:00 PM

THINK BEFORE YOU DO THIS!

Before I knew better, I enrolled in a Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, CA and it was the biggest mistake I ever made. It's funny that they're telling you they're picky about who they let in. That's so far from the truth it makes me laugh, because they cram as many people as they can possibly get into these schools. When I was attending they kept hiring chef instructors to try to keep up with the enrollment and not all of the chefs were what I would call teachers or even have the experience. Some of them were a few years out of culinary school themselves. Luckily I woke up when I did or I would be 50K in the hole. I ended up leaving midway through the program (taking about 4-5 other students with me) and finished at a community college, which was a couple of grand compared to 40-50k. Whats funny about the whole situation is that the community college kicked the crap out of the Le Cordon Blue schools in competitions. Speaking of competitions, a former student of the community college was a member of the US Pastry Team that won the gold at the world pastry competition a few years back. So for anyone to tell you that a expensive culinary school is better than a community college is an idiot. In the end it's what you put into it. Plus, if you go to a community college you can work in the industry while you're in school. I know a lot of people who did this and many of them where Sous or Executive chefs before they completed the program.

Just remember that you will have a $400-500 a month education loan payment every month after you graduate. When you're making $10 an hour after you graduate, you won't be so happy with that expensive education that would open every door (or at least that's what they tell you). Plan on living like a starving artist for a long time.

Anyway, this has been my experience and whenever I hear someone talking about going to these expensive schools, it makes me cringe. These schools hire used car salesman to sell you on this grand dream/idea and its bull crap.

Sorry for my rant, but I'm so anti-culinary schools it makes me blue in the face. I do have to admit though, that the French Pastry School in Chicago turns out a pretty good product and they're less than half of these other schools. Anyway, if I offended anyone, please forgive me, but when you have had an experience as I did at one of these schools, you would understand.

Remember, its what YOU put into it, it's not the school you attend!

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I could not agree more and my kid graduated from a Cordon Bleu program. He wanted to bolt when sticker shock and buyer's remorse tied a nuclear knot in his gut. He stuck it out, graduated with high honors, perfect attendance, a zillion dollars to repay to become a mere blip on his resume. He had already been in the industry. He's really good at what he does. But thassalottamoolah. (That's a lot of money)

Yes Cordon Bleu is a business first then a school. To me.

#11 chefpeon

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 06:47 AM

Yes, I say, listen listen listen to alanamoana, ChristopherMichael, K8, and John DePaula!
They just said everything I was going to say, and here's my 2 cents on top of it.

I too, went to one of those "community college" technical type trade schools. Early 90's. Total cost including books for over 2 years of culinary and pastry? $3000. The BEST thing school did for me was help get my foot in the door of potential employers and prepared me for what the work world MIGHT be like. Even then, school is NOTHING like work. Most of the best education I've had in the field has been ON THE JOB.

The first thing a potential employer looks at when reviewing a resume? Your work experience. School is secondary, and as K8 put it, a "blip". A good "blip", but a "blip" all the same. I'll bet you that your experience as a home business will be more valuable on a resume than a Le Cordon Bleu blip.....and you want to pay HOW MUCH?

That stuff they are telling you about being picky whom they accept? That's a line. Don't buy it. Literally. You have money? You're accepted. Can't get more simple than that.

I've been a pastry chef for 16 years now. I'm highly skilled, and I'm happy to say I've finally gotten a little respect for who I am and what I've done so far.....but money? I make $13 an hour. After 16 years. That's right. So just think about possible earning potential and how much you want to spend for school.......and sit back and re-think this really. Cordon Bleu isn't going to get you anything that past work experience and a good attitude will. Save your money. :wink:

And by the way, with my li'l ol' trade school training and work experience, I've been able to kick the butts of many a LCB or CIA grad........ :laugh:

Edited by chefpeon, 23 April 2007 - 06:59 AM.


#12 paul o' vendange

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 12:39 PM

Lesa, I would agree, listen - mostly, listen to yourself. I applaud you for pursuing something, and having the courage to do so now.

Edited by paul o' vendange, 23 April 2007 - 03:20 PM.

[size="3"]Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais[/size]

#13 Malawry

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 01:46 PM

I am not a pastry chef, but I am a graduate of culinary school--and so far, I do think my program was worth my money and time. (I graduated from L'academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, MD in May 2003.) I only say this because I think that whether or not school is a good idea depends on lots of different factors, including the school, the student, and most importantly the student's goals. In my case, school has been useful since I write about food and teach cooking skills for most of my living, and having that degree has been a sort of shorthand for "I know something about what I'm doing and am not a rank amateur"--I changed careers when I enrolled, so I didn't have years of industry experience to back me up. I am friendly with the alumni coordinator at my alma mater and she has been especially useful for me in finding jobs and forging professional connections, so I'd also say schools can be very helpful in those regards. I don't know that school would have been the best path if my goal was to become a restaurant cook or to run my own restaurant--but it might have been.

I did want to say that finding loans for culinary schools is very, very difficult. Everybody wants to loan money to people getting BA/BS degrees and those working towards master's, doctoral, law, medicine, or other professional programs. That's because people who pursue those types of education are regarded as a good investment by lenders. Associate degrees and (worse) certificates (which is what I earned from L'academie) aren't as reliable an investment from a financial standpoint. I ended up borrowing from my folks to make up the difference.

#14 chefpeon

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 06:24 PM

I would just like to clarify......I and others are NOT saying school is BAD.....definitely not. It's a GOOD thing. What we ARE saying is that you can get JUST as much out of a program that is not quite so expensive. The bottom line is, what you put into it is what you get out of it, and if you're dedicated, you can benefit greatly without going into any sort of debt. In my opinion, 20K for a culinary school education is crazy. :blink:

#15 alanamoana

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 11:14 PM

I have to second what chefpeon stated above ^^. It isn't our intention to discourage the original poster's desire to attend culinary school. It is just that she made it a point to discuss the financial aspects of attending Le Cordon Bleu. If this is a major concern, going into debt or having difficulties receiving financial aid, then original poster should consider every option out there before diving in head first. Get her feet wet, so to speak.

I went to culinary school. But, I had gotten a job in a restaurant (for at least two years) before I decided that I wanted to focus on baking and pastry and attend school. It was also cheaper ten years ago.

Culinary school has definitely become a business...I know, I teach at one now.

Edited by alanamoana, 23 April 2007 - 11:15 PM.


#16 tannerz

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Posted 24 April 2007 - 03:38 PM

I am almost exactly 1 year out of an LCB (Pastry) school in Az. I am mid life, and a career changer. I graduated at the top of my class, attended every workshop I could, and volunteered at every event they had.

LCB schools are in business. They are there to make money, not turn out world class chefs. This is the same at community colleges. (And by law they cannot turn away anyone that can afford to pay for the classes)

SOME of the instructors really do care about you as a student, some do not. This is the same at community colleges.

The classes are in depth and will teach you all the basics. This is the same at community colleges.

The LCB program, however, went into great detail on some of the more advanced techniques that my friends that went to AI, and other community colleges did not get. Sugar work, Chocolate work, theories etc.

My program was a total of 13 months, 5 days a week, 7 hours a day. Workshops every weekend. Not many community colleges are that intense.

Friends in my class are now Pastry Chefs at high end restaurants in Scottsdale and Dallas. Some are also bank tellers.

Some of my instructors had been at the school for many years, after very extensive careers in Pastry. One had graduated from that very school only 2 years prior. We had 2 M.O.F. instructors, and 2 CdM competitor instructors.

I agree with Malawry completely!!! It depends on many factors. After interest I will have paid 60k, yes $60,000.00 USD for my education. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Would I recommend others do it? Well, you need to be of extremely high caliber mentally to take 100% advantage of such an education. Dedication is paramount, and forget about having any kind of real job during your school.

Also, go work in a few shops for a week or so each. Make sure this is the right place for you. If it is, best of luck. PM me if you want to talk more about my experiences, and stuff from my school.

#17 greenbean

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Posted 24 April 2007 - 06:30 PM

Lesa, would you consider a community college? If so, you are in a great place. I was able to get the HOPE Grant/Scholarship to go to culinary school at a local technical college. HOPE covered my tuition plus $100 per quarter for books. It's worth considering.

#18 Lesa D.

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 04:34 AM

Gosh, I don't know where to begin with all of this advice which goes back and forth. The only thing I can tell you is that I do have a passion for this stuff, and I'm really getting into the chocolatiering aspects as well. I also spent a lot of money a couple of years ago attending Nick Lodge's sugar arts school where I learned from( in my opinion) the very best on how do do gumpaste/fondant work. Worth every penny, and I'm good at it. My husband is a professor at Georgia Tech, and while we don't have gobs of money, his salary supports us, so my earnings would be the cherry on top. No pun intended. Now are you ready for this?: Yesterday, I got a call from the financial aid dept. at Le Cordon, and Sally May has reconsidered, and decided to give me a new signature loan, which covers the remainder of the tuition that the gov't loan doesn't cover, AND I can choose between a 15 or 30 year pay back option. Sounds reasonable to me. I believe it is a 7.5% interest loan. I'm going tomorrow to fill out the paper work, and I'm starting in July, as long as there are no unforseen glitches. I hear what everyone is telling me, but I really want to do this, so I am. Thanks for your help, and I'll keep you posted for sure.

#19 K8memphis

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 08:01 AM

Lesa, I do truly understand your passion. Do me one favor. Check not only the credentials but also the level of expertise of the pastry teaching staff (and it could change in a heartbeat too). We had one thread here on egullet where some students in culinary school did not learn how to make candy clay. Chocolate plus corn syrup which is of course a seemingly basic and easy to prepare substance. I don't think it was a LCB school but anyway. Scary, y'know?

I think you have new car fever and I get it. Just be sure that their expertise rises high enough above yours to justify your investment.

Have you comparison shopped at all??

I mean why not do an Ewold Notter chocolate something? He would pack it in and charge a pittance by comparison sans politics.

These school bills get very very old very very quick and last for most of a lifetime. Of course they could locate your financing. I'm just gonna say this since you said that. We've got about a 4% loan and it will go to 3% (or maybe it's 3 and going to 2 can't remember) in August because we've made every payment on time for two years.

It's a car payment for TWENTY-FIVE YEARS. I'll be 81 when the last payment is made. (But I look much younger :rolleyes: ) I mean I have a sweet friend who has a new lease on life after a liver transplant--she's on her way to LCB in Atlanta.

So...Best of the best to you.

#20 K8memphis

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 08:45 AM

Here's the link to the thread about white chocolate.

One other thing, your other classmates will determine to a great extent the pace of the class. There's a lot of working in teams. If an assortment of clueless highschool students need advanced hand holding, then I mean a convoy can only move as fast as the slowest ship.