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The role of culinary education


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#1 Fat Guy

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Posted 30 September 2005 - 06:47 AM

In the not-too-distant past, an American chef almost by definition had not gone to culinary school. Now, fine restaurant kitchens all over the world are populated by students trained at dozens of American culinary academies. Culinary education seems to be booming, with existing educational institutions adding culinary programs (not just cooking, but also academic programs related to the study of food), new cooking schools opening and the established cooking schools expanding.

Surely, this helps to raise the standard. It may also be the reason why the menus at most second-tier fine-dining restaurants are interchangeable. What does the future hold?

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#2 jsolomon

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Posted 30 September 2005 - 07:10 AM

I hope that the future holds greater outreach from the current (and coming) culinary academies to the general population.

To my estimation, there are generally 3 things that keep second-tier fine-dining establishments from having a non-interchangeable menu.

1: Diners aren't willing enough to be challenged
2: Chefs aren't willing/capable of challenging diners
3: All of the above

If 2 is solved, then the possible height of the bar is pushed by many new things being invented.

If 1 is solved, the expectation of bar height is raised, which adjusts the norm.

But, going to a previous thread in which there was discussion of access to items, I think that generally the American populace is gaining a more open palate, and we've already started to see some of those changes come home to roost. I don't think that 15 years ago things like Applebee's Orange Chicken dish would have been as popular a dish for them.

So, what I think the future will hold in America is that there will be a greater base repertoire on 6 main meats (beef, chicken, pork, halibut, tuna, and salmon), and a greater acceptance of more vegetable dishes. But I don't see goose, lamb, duck, or goat making much headway in the next 10 years.

Additional things I hope to see: more light in fine dining restaurants, better noise cancellation/absorption in most sit-down restaurants, and etiquette crib sheets in the menus (for the backward hay-seeds like myself).
I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

#3 clark wolf

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Posted 30 September 2005 - 02:55 PM

It's certainly true that the deep and broad ranging supply of real, trained and educated talent now available in this country has and will contribute to the growth of good professional and non-professional cooking. That's really good news, and accomplished in less than 20 years.

Cooking schools are profitable and seem fun to own so they are an appealing new venture, especially for crossover technical school owners who lost Federal funding about a dozen years ago. This, along with more specialty food retail (Whole Foods leading the way) and a busier, more urban life, even in bedroom communities just make the explosion that much more sustained. And one you eat well for a while it's hard to go back to frozen junk.

As to the chefs all cooking the same thing, I find that statement truly odd and just a little impolite. Recipies used to be exchanges at quilting bees and church socials. Food is good gossip. The guy at the restaurant's back door has other back doors to visit and a truck full of farms greens to unload.

I mean really, when I hear people complain about seeing too many beet with goat cheese on arugula salads on menus I just laugh. Wanna get locked in a TGI Fridays for a month? People try things but everything can't and shouldn't be new.

Judy Rogers of Zuni Cafe says that some people like to cook something new every day. She likes to cook the same things over and over and see how different they are each time. Seems like there's room for both.

In the not-too-distant past, an American chef almost by definition had not gone to culinary school. Now, fine restaurant kitchens all over the world are populated by students trained at dozens of American culinary academies. Culinary education seems to be booming, with existing educational institutions adding culinary programs (not just cooking, but also academic programs related to the study of food), new cooking schools opening and the established cooking schools expanding.

Surely, this helps to raise the standard. It may also be the reason why the menus at most second-tier fine-dining restaurants are interchangeable. What does the future hold?