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Culinary School in Montreal / Quebec


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#1 cabrales

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Posted 23 July 2002 - 04:00 PM

Out of curiosity, are there well-regarded cooking schools in Canada? If members have the available information, what chefs are among such schools' alums? Is there a concern in Canada that promising trainees may leave for the US?

#2 Lesley C

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Posted 23 July 2002 - 05:53 PM

I think the school I attended, the Institut de Tourisme et d'Hotellerie du Quebec, is one of the best, if not the best in Canada (certainly at the time I was there, from 87-90). I also hear good things about the Stratford chef's School in Ontario, which is tiny compared to the ITHQ.
Best of all, my schooling at the ITHQ was free because the school is subsidized by the government. Also, all my courses were given in French and most of our teachers were from France. On top of that, the ITHQ has strong ties in France when it comes to placing students on stage. French chefs know more about Quebec than probably any other part of North America; the province is still the #1 tourist destination for the French.
At the time I was there, the budget was enormous and the ingredients we used were generally excellent. Of course things have changed. A cooking school run by a government official isn't always a formula for success. But there are bonuses, for example, the school just received about 10 million from the minister of education to upgrade the building.
Chefs among the schools alums? Probably all the up-and-coming Montreal chefs have been to the ITHQ at one time or another. I know of many who left for Europe but unless they speak English, the US is not an option. Riad Nasr is from Montreal, though I can't remember if he attended the ITHQ (think so, not sure).

#3 cabrales

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Posted 23 July 2002 - 05:59 PM

French chefs know more about Quebec than probably any other part of North America; the province is still the #1 tourist destination for the French.

Lesley -- Thanks for your input. I'm surprised that Quebec and not another country in Europe is the #1 tourist destination for French people. Do you see the relatively widespread respect and love for cuisine in Quebec that one associates with France? :wink:

#4 Lesley C

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Posted 23 July 2002 - 06:22 PM

Absolutely.
Yet the French tend to know a lot about their region and little else, and Quebeckers are curious to look beyond that. I'd think the restaurant customer in Quebec is probably more sophisticated than in other provinces ('m not talking cities here, but provinces). We buy 44% of the wine sold in Canada, 70% is red, and almost all of it is French (apparently French Canadians aren't interested in Canadian (English) wine).
In one of my cooking courses, I remember a French chef telling me that I could never really understand taste because I had an English, as opposed to Latin, palate. If there is any truth to that -- silly -- comment, French Canadians would have an upper hand. :biggrin: They certainly make excellent cheese. :wub:

#5 Junior

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 11:20 AM

I went to school at the Pacific Ins. of Cuinary Arts in Vancouver. I went through when the school was starting up, so things have changed a great deal since I went. The school's chefs are all European with at least 15 years experience in Europe. You are taught a French sytem which translates well in the industry itself. Dubrelle is another private school in Vancouver; acutally a few blocks away from PICA.
The other option for cooking schools are the ones run by provincail techincal college's. Here in Saskatoon, SIAST at Kelsey runs the Professional cooking program and the majority of cooks from this province are graduates of this program.
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#6 cabrales

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 11:23 AM

Junior -- If you are comfortable doing so, please consider discussing how things are going at your restaurant. :wink:

#7 Gourmando

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Posted 27 July 2002 - 04:37 AM

In Ottawa, we have the only Cordon Bleu Paris cooking school in North America to offer the "Grand Diplome" cycle of courses. The school used to be in a nondescript office building in the south end, but moved about a year ago to a beautiful heritage building on Laurier Avenue, where they now run both the school and an exquisite restaurant called Signatures. According to friends in the trade, there used to be a criticism that graduates had no restaurant exposure, and had trouble adjusting to the real deal; this has changed with the addition of the restaurant.

Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa

#8 ExCentriX

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Posted 15 August 2003 - 10:01 PM

Hello,

Here is my situation: It has always been my dream to be able to go to Culinary School. But when I finally got myself to take action to push myself to apply for it, there were 2 things that prevented me from doing so. First off, I was in the middle of completing my University degree at Concordia. At that point, I said to myself that I might as well finish off what I started. So, I did that, and finally graduated University this Summer. Secondly, the Culinary School that I was looking into attending is the Cordon Bleu in Ottawa. That means that it will cost quite some bit off cash to live there, and on top of that, the tuition fee is well over 18,000$ for the whole program. This is when I felt God gave me a sign. The week after I completed my last course in University, I was going through The Montreal Gazette, (ofcourse my main intention was to read Lesley's review :biggrin: ) and came about to see this brochure by the English Montreal School Board (EMSB), which offers many carreer programs, and one of them was for a Cooking Profession Program. I believe this school is St-Puis X close to the 40 East. Not only is this close to home, the best part of this is that the whole program will be funded by the Government. I have called, and found out that there are still a few spots. Right now, I am waiting for them to see if they can arrange a few things to confirm a spot for me. In other words, I am one step closer in achieving my goal.

My question. Have anyone heard or experience anything from the culinary school from this organization? Any suggestions? Or does anyone know of a similar program such as this in Montreal? I would greatly appreciate any opinions I will be given. Thanks.

Jason

Edited by ExCentriX, 15 August 2003 - 10:03 PM.


#9 calgarymarmitons

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Posted 16 August 2003 - 05:21 AM

Ex,

Know the school quite well from my days with Les Marmitons of Montreal. Chef Thomas Green runs the show and the program is quite extensive. It is a very different focus from that of Cordon Bleu, inasmuch as Pius focuses on getting you entry-level skills and Cordon Bleu is more on the refinement side of things.

Chef Green's operation is slick, his equipment and kitchen facilities are one of the best in Montreal and the staff's ersanlity and demeanor makes the place a lot of fun. It is, nevertheless, an extension of the Quebec High School program and not a hi-fi, glitzy, bells-and-whistles progtram. You work, you study, you graduate, and then hit the streets, looking for entry-level kitchen work.

Good luck!

John

#10 Lesley C

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Posted 16 August 2003 - 09:47 AM

Sorry John but your information is completely wrong-- or dated. Thomas Green is NOT in charge of the program at the Pius X Culinary Academy. The program head is a man by the name of Tony Mancini. The last I heard, Tom Green teaches table service, which is probably better suited to his skills.

Secondly, the operation could hardly be called "slick." Pius probably has the worst facilities of any cooking school in the city. I will vouch for the winning personality of the staff, however, save for Mr. Green.

Despite the weaknesses at Pius, the students all seem to find good jobs and from what I've seen most of them continue in the industry.
Yes, the programs are basic but all the programs in entry-level cooking schools in Quebec are.
Pius also has a terrific chef on staff by the name of Otto Daniels who is highly talented in the realm of culinary competition.

I worked as a pastry teacher at Pius for three years. The freedom the staff was given and the high ratio of young teachers straight from the industry brought a dynamic to the school you just couldn't find in the other larger cooking schools.

ExCentrix, if you need more information, feel free to PM me.
Also I know there are a few Pius graduates who post here. Maybe they could contribute a few words about their experiences with the cooking program.

#11 calgarymarmitons

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Posted 17 August 2003 - 06:56 AM

Lesley,

My apologies to you and Ex for misleading - my information is of course quite DATED! Let's just say mid-90's to be fair. I do defer to your comments on recent management of Pius but "the worst cooking facilities"?? Can you elaborate on your ranking of Montreal's cooking school facilities? I've attended a number over the years and Pius doesn't stick out as that bad.

Oh, and Chef Daniels' reputation, from SAIT, does precede him.

John

#12 Lesley C

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Posted 17 August 2003 - 10:36 AM

John,
The kitchens at Pius can hardly compete with those of the Institut de Tourisme et d'Hotellerie du Quebec (the biggest and best school in the province -- if not the country), Calixa Lavallee, Riverside technical insitute and Jacques Rousseau. The only good thing about Pius' poor facilities is that they offer students a taste of what it's like to work in a "real" kitchen. The stoves are old, the equiment isn't that great, and there isn't a dishwasher on hand to wash the pots.
Reality bites at Pius. I say, all the better. :wink:

#13 cook-em-all

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Posted 17 August 2003 - 11:08 AM

The best thing about Ithq are the resources. In the end you only get out of it what you put into it.
School is your base. You really start to learn with your work experience.
Do not waste your money on cordon bleu.

#14 ExCentriX

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Posted 17 August 2003 - 02:52 PM

Thanks for all your input on this cooking school.

Lesley: The schools that you mentioned, are they within the Montreal region? Would you also know if these are also Government funded?

Thanks again for all the help.

#15 Lesley C

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Posted 17 August 2003 - 03:59 PM

If you speak French, you might want to check out the ITHQ. The resources there are outstanding. The library alone is astounding, and they are renovating the school to the tune of a couple million this year. All these schools are government funded. Save your $18 000 for better things.

#16 Culatello

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Posted 17 August 2003 - 04:48 PM

Lesley is right St.Puis isn't what it used to be ,take it from me I'm an ex-student of St.Puis at the time of Mr. Laundry
luckily I had the honor of having a beautiful Pastry Chef as
a teacher ,she thought me how to make the Creme brule I still do to this day ,all the good ones left Chef Denis,Chef Sylvain,and also this famous pastry chef,I also had the oppertunity to go to ITHQ and let me tell you there is no comparison the equipment is much more adavanced and the teaching is much more strict,no fooling around.You'll get a better education at ITHQ,but don't get me wrong ST.Puis
pulled out some great Chefs but ITHQ pulled out the more famous ones.
Con il melone si mangia , beve e si lava la facia
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I'm craving the perfct Gateau Foret Noire .

#17 fireweed

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Posted 18 August 2003 - 07:19 AM

Hey Jason-
I was at Pius around 2000 and it was a really positive experience. We had just got an entire set of new stoves in the kitchen, lots of new equipment, and we did have a dishwasher. Still, it's not this stuff that makes or breaks a year..for me it was surviving my classmates who were there for every reason other than cooking. Some were retired and bored; some couldn't handle Math 11 and were sent there by their parents; some were there to collect $$ from the government and the list goes on. I remember one guy in my pastry exam who was so clueless, he cooked his genoise in a pot on the stove and baked his creme anglaise in a cake pan in the oven. Wow.
But there were a handfull of us who were pretty serious about cooking and our teachers poured everything they had in to us and bent over backwards to kick open doors of oppoutunity for us. They are a really great team and I still keep in contact with them. I think my year cost me about $300- I proabably wouldn't have been able to afford cooking school otherwise!
I hope you go for it and let us know how it goes!

#18 Lesley C

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Posted 18 August 2003 - 08:25 AM

Fireweed, I had kids in my class at the ITHQ who weren't much better. I remember one guy in my class who stabbed himself in the leg while chopping chocolate. He also used to throw out all his cookie dough when the teacher wasn't looking because he was too lazy to pipe out more than one tray. I had a girl in my class who dropped acid every day before class. She once told me she thought our teacher was a grasshopper. Scary. :blink:

At Pius there was always a hard core group in every class and a lot of sharp girls. The probelm there was that the classes were sometimes huge. I remember a few groups of 25 students. It's tough to give your full attention to each individual when you have to spread your energies around such a large group. At the ITHQ, there were between 8-14 students per teacher. It makes a difference.

#19 jeff

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Posted 18 August 2003 - 09:52 AM

Hello everyone
I am a graduate of ITHQ in my opinion you will get a very strong understanding of all your basic cooking principles.The program is a very well rounded and the facilities are excellent.In my case I was fortunate enough to have Chef instructors that were very willing to not only prepare us for what was waiting for us in terms of basic cooking skills but also with a little glimpse of what the reality of the world of professional cooking could be like.If my memory serves me correctly the year and a half program cost me $1500 which included a basic knife kit,uniforms and books.Seeing as english is my mother tongue I did have to pass some french test to make sure that I would be able to follow.All in all I had an excellent experience but like most things in life you only get out of it what you put in.I would definetly recommend the program.

Good Luck
Jeff

#20 ExCentriX

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Posted 18 August 2003 - 10:31 AM

Thanks again for the info.

Unfortunately, my french would not be sufficient enough for me to follow if I attended ITHQ.

I also do agree that it is up to a person to make the best of the program. Therefore, I will in any case, take advantage and learn as much as I can from the program that is offered.

#21 NeroW

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Posted 18 August 2003 - 04:00 PM

I had a girl in my class who dropped acid every day before class. She once told me she thought our teacher was a grasshopper. Scary.  :blink:

Oh my God!

Before she picked up a knife she dropped acid?

:shock:
Noise is music. All else is food.

#22 Lesley C

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Posted 18 August 2003 - 07:03 PM

I was in the pastry program. Not a lot of knives involved -- at least not sharp knives. :biggrin: That chick was a total whacko. :unsure:

#23 food_dwarf

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Posted 19 August 2003 - 03:06 PM

If your french isn't good enough to attend ITHQ then I would pick Riverside Park Technology Institute. I don't have the phone number on me. However, it is with the Lester B. Pearson school board which should have a website. Good luck to you.

#24 food_dwarf

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Posted 19 August 2003 - 03:09 PM

oh I found the side for you.

Check out

www.pearsonskills.com then click on Vocational.

it looks like you can even register online

#25 cook-em-all

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Posted 19 August 2003 - 03:31 PM

Don't let the fact that you can't speak french deter you.
I was not exactly fluent. Determination will be the most important attribute in your culinary career, might as well start at school. Almost all culinary terms are in french, and those terms are new for everyone.

ITHQ was tremendous start for me, and I highly recommend it.
If you would like more info drop by Brunoise for a drink I will be happy to share my experience with you.

Zach

#26 Lesley C

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Posted 19 August 2003 - 06:44 PM

I think you would be better off taking a Berlitz fast French course than head to Riverside. I just can't seem to get a take on that place. Has anyone here attended? Food dwarf, why do you recommend Riverside? I don't want to be mean here, I'm just curious.

As Zach stated, I don't think language will turn out to be a problem at ITHQ these days.

#27 BlueState_4

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Posted 19 August 2003 - 08:30 PM

Riverside is a pretty good place to learn how to cook. I've never been there personally but i know of people who have and they all say that they had a good time. Most of the teachers seem nice there and the kitchen is pretty decent. You shouldn't be discouraged if you can't speak french, I know I can't and I still amange ok. Back to schools... go to a culinary school that has courses that appeal to you. Somtimes it's not just about the name, it's also about enjoying your learning experiences. Go with whichever school feels best for you.

#28 Lesley C

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Posted 20 August 2003 - 04:44 AM

Blue State _4, all the courses are the same. It's a set government program.

I still say ITHQ. The contacts they have there are amazing -- especially if you want to do a stage in France. And, despite the discipline (I had to wear a friggin' tour de cou for three years) it's a fun school. Wild wild parties.

#29 riboflavinjoe

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Posted 20 August 2003 - 07:04 AM

lesley, not only is the tour de cou required, now you have to keep your student card visibly attached to your person while in the school. as if you were working for some top secret government agency or something. and then there's the shirt and tie, no jeans, no sneakers... in the winter, i always zipped my jacket all the way up to hide the fact that i was not wearing a shirt and tie.
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#30 Lesley C

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Posted 20 August 2003 - 08:39 AM

That's nothing! When I was there in 1989, the was a uniform Tabarnac!!! And it was ugly! They dropped it in 1991. Thank God!