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Culinary School in Montreal / Quebec


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#61 chromedome

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 12:51 AM

I've been through the same process recently, Cricklewood. After years in retail sales, I followed my heart into the kitchen. I graduated from NAIT in Edmonton last April, at the age of 40. It's definitely an adjustment, and you're in for a few years of low-paid ass-busting work. I'm loving it, mind you, I just wish I didn't hurt in quite so many places.

As for landing a job, the best advice I can give you is to be targetted and intentional. Don't just fire off a CV to any place that strikes you as interesting. Look at the websites and menus of the places you apply to. Research the chefs; there's a surprising amount of info out there on the Internet. One place I applied the exec is a triathlete; another is a fairly serious jazz musician. I made a point of knowing that about them before I ever darkened their doors. I also made a point of reading their menus and anything I could find (local papers, magazines, restaurant reviews, etc) explaining their attitudes and approaches toward food.

Because the time will come when one of these godlike individuals (note my expressionless face) will sit you down and ask you a very simple question: "Why do you want to work here?" Your answer, very often, will decide whether you get a real interview or the ten-minute brushoff. Give them good reasons, real reasons (anybody who hires his own staff will smell bullshit in a second); and ideally reasons that convey a benefit to the chef. You can't come in with a song and dance about your cooking skills, because the second he puts you on the line you're going to get hammered. Emphasize skills like performance under pressure, deadlines successfully dealt with against all odds, organizational aptitude, perseverance...you get the picture. The things any employer wants to hear. But only if they're accurate and demonstrable (and ideally, things your references will cheerfully affirm).

In my particular instance, I had the disadvantage of finding a stage in a city 3000 km from where I was living at the time (Halifax). I exercised due diligence at the research end, sent off the e-mails, and landed a spot in one of my top three choices (I still work there on weekends). Believe me, I made my case at length and in detail, and my letter was not generic. Aside from the introductory explanation of my circumstances, each of those queries was specific to that particular kitchen.

I still needed to prove myself once I got there, but that was a question of attitude rather than skillset. The chef knew (and I knew) that if I had the right attitude she could teach me the rest. I'm still learning, every day, and I'm confident that I made the right decision. YMMV, but it's a great industry.
Fat=flavor

#62 atomic

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 10:56 AM

the advice your teacher gave you about the 1 or 2 beers is a good one, but you might want to keep it for after your shift.
trust me, you'll need it to help you unwind :biggrin:
that will most likely become a tradition with you and your co workwers, wich is also a nice part of the job

cheers!

#63 cricklewood

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 08:28 PM

Chromedome thanks for the kind words, nice to know they are more people in the same boat, I hope I do well, I actually might have a tryout in a place next week(thanks egullet) and from there will see what happens, I am nervous as hell and will take one heck of a salary cut(probably more than half, why oh why did I accumulate such debt??) but it's going to be worth it. Atomic yes the beer will be kept for after the shift, already a tradition at school (when we are not dashing off to work after class). School is going well march break is next week and that means I can have more than 4 hours sleep per night(yay!)

#64 alexthecook

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Posted 20 November 2007 - 09:38 PM

I've always loved eating and in my adult years, this has converted into a love of cooking. I breathe cooking books and shows and love having friends and family over for meals.

But I find myself wanting more. I want a class that I could go to once a week to build up true technique, to see a master chef debone a chicken, then practice until I get it right. Have someone tell me, then show me how to properly use crepine, roast meat, make jus, etc.

I'm not quitting my day job, so the ITHQ seems out of the question. And I don't want one of those one shot classes where they show you how to make pasta, or cook a recipe out of a book.

Does such a place exist in Montreal? I've stumbled across l'Académie culinaire, but I don't know anything about it. They do have a several weeks long "techniques de base" course, but they don't say what these techniques would be (I don't want to be stuck learning how to chop onions for 2 hours...)...

Please, any suggestions are welcome!

#65 Lesley C

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 09:09 AM

I used to teach at the Academie Culinaire about a decade ago. The basic cooking classes were very good and popular back then, and I would think now as well. The facilities are excellent. I don't know if they offer classes in English anymore, though they once did.
ITHQ was also offering night courses at one point. That would be worth checking out.

#66 alexthecook

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 09:37 AM

Thanks Lesley!

Would you have a sampling of what you learn at the basic training classes?

#67 Peter the eater

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 11:53 AM

I can relate to your situation, Alex the cook. I have had no formal training and don't plan to, maybe the odd class for fun might be in the cards (rural Italy sounds good).

AFAIC, if you want to cook like a classic French chef you pretty much need to train like one. I beleive the more one does something, the better one gets at it. But, no offense to the highly skilled and educated chefs out there, its just food. . . it's not neurosurgery. By this I mean some of the greatest chefs of all time are self-taught and have rose through the ranks by doing not studying. One can chef a restaurant with a very limited breadth of technique or virtually no knowledge of other cultures and traditions.

Why not get some used cooking school textbooks, or watch some of the videos online for free or for sale?
Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .
Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .
Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

#68 Lesley C

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 12:07 PM

http://www.academieculinaire.com

That's the web site for the academie culinaire. Check out the "cours grand public" section. There are English courses there as well, not cheap mind you. Eight courses of 3 hours each is close to $700!
I would recommend you take a single course first, to see if the place suits your needs.

#69 francois

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Posted 24 November 2007 - 04:38 PM

For baking classes, there is also King Arthur flour in Vermont. I would suggest you try the excellent classes by our own James MacGuire (from Montreal). It is a bit expensive, but well worth it. I have been there a few times and stayed in the nearby town a Woodstock...Lovely place!

#70 Histrion

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Posted 24 November 2007 - 04:53 PM

I am student and do not have that much money to blow on courses. Would I better advised buying about like Pépin's one to improve on my technique or are these courses that much better?

#71 che

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 09:37 PM

check Raza's cooking classes (114 laurier west)

www.restaurantraza.com

I was there for ceviche (december 6)


I've always loved eating and in my adult years, this has converted into a love of cooking. I breathe cooking books and shows and love having friends and family over for meals.

But I find myself wanting more. I want a class that I could go to once a week to build up true technique, to see a master chef debone a chicken, then practice until I get it right. Have someone tell me, then show me how to properly use crepine, roast meat, make jus, etc.

I'm not quitting my day job, so the ITHQ seems out of the question. And I don't want one of those one shot classes where they show you how to make pasta, or cook a recipe out of a book.

Does such a place exist in Montreal? I've stumbled across l'Académie culinaire, but I don't know anything about it. They do have a several weeks long "techniques de base" course, but they don't say what these techniques would be (I don't want to be stuck learning how to chop onions for 2 hours...)...

Please, any suggestions are welcome!

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#72 Snackhappy

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 09:46 PM

Are these Raza classes hands-on or is it just a dog and pony show?

#73 sockhead

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 09:06 AM

Hello, I am a university student (in life sciences, if it makes a difference), with basically zero knowledge of cooking. Would the basic course at academie culinaire be well suited for me? Or should I get some experience on my own first?

#74 cricklewood

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 09:16 PM

Sockhead, I think before you shell out lots of money for classes, what's important would be to figure out exactly what you want to get out of cooking classes. Do you want to just pick up a few recipes so you can make some decent meals for yourself w/out getting too involved in the nitty gritty or do you want to learn from the bottom up, real classic cooking techniques? Establish what your initial needs and level of involvement are and work from there. You can learn a lot from reading a couple of good books and then nothing beats real hands on cooking and tasting, do the same recipe often until you master it. Don't get bummed out by failures they happen often at the beginning. Resist the temptations of trendy cookbooks a lot of them contain mostly flash but few recipes beginners can feel confident about trying and mastering. Some swear by the old joy of cooking tomes or Julia child. Nigel Slater's books are great if a bit frustrating at first because he is very free with quantities and instructions but as your confidence grows you will appreciate this. The first 2 Jamie Oliver books are a good start no matter what one's opinions of the man are. Marcella Hazan's books are also good, how to cook everything by Marc Bittman. Investing some money in decent cooking tools (a good knife, cast iron pan, stockpot) are a better initial investment since you will always need these things to cook even if it's just to cook some pasta. E-mail me I would be glad to help you out or try and answer any questions you have.

#75 rubyred

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 07:43 PM

Does anyone know of a "Culinary Bootcamp" program for non-professionals in Montreal? What I am looking for would be similar to this:

http://forums.egulle...howtopic=120986

Cheers!

#76 rocler

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 05:26 PM

quick update on chef tom greene: Last August/2009 he was giving the '''sanatation/handlers course now mandatory in Quebec, he was quite interesting and had lots of stories of his chef years.

#77 Big.Tuna

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 02:58 PM

Just wondering if anybody has dealt with College LaSalle. I was wondering if their culinary program was any good, or if people heard reviews about them?

Thanks for your time!