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Unrest at the CIA & the Import of Culinary Degrees


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The school doesn't care, it really doesn't.

I'm currently in my 2nd year at the CIA, and if I had to sum up the school in one sentence, this would be it. All the CIA cares about is how many more thousands of dollars they can bring in and then spend on landscaping.

Edit for a typo.

Edited by WiscoNole (log)
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I suppose you can say that about most schools.

If you chat with many folks that graduated from CIA or any other culinary school for that matter; they look back and say they aren't high advocates about the schools they went to. (perhaps due to maturing through the years in the business)

I myself am a 3rd year here, though it may not be the cut out to be the cloud 9 of places. I take it as it is. I got over all the small stuff and just accepted. Call me not pro-active but, whatever, if you can't stand the heat...get outtttt.

Jim

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I've been at more than a few universities and it is a consistent beef among students that they never see the Pres/dean/chairman. Their assumption is that his/her job involves interaction with the students.

It doesn't. The head guy is there to steer the ship and to raise money...mostly the latter.

Things may be very screwed-up at CIA, but it is unfair to rag on Ryan for not being accessible to the students...not his job.

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While I agree to a certain degree that the president of a school should not have an open door policy to students - he/she must be visible. I worked for 25000 + University and the president was very visible in lots of things - while it is his job to steer - the long term effects of not being active a little in the school will show up later as the Alumni Association starts beating the mailbox for money. I only saw the man one time - at graduation. While I think it important at the Hyde Park campus to be very "pretty" becasue it has so many guests and busses and red hat ladies lunches (flashback) I certainly do not like what I see. Campus locations everywhere - nowhere Texas - come on. JW did that and is closing campus locations becasue of costs

Now I will say that my education at the CIA was very good. But I can say that most places will not care about you as an employee and it may just be another learning experience of not being cared about as a student. ex. I just suffered through an un air conditioned kitchen for a month 125+ degrees on the line. The adm was more concerned about losing money by closing for a couple days than closing and fixing it so the staff would not wear down in the heat open 7 days a week 14 hr days 4 chefs - so I really dont care about the president of the CIA I care more about the guys in the trenches teaching at the school and the students.

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When I first started in kitchens, the option to go to culinary school was there, but I never went. Now, with five years in the business, I've managed to leap my way up to a top position in a top restaurant due to personal competence, honour, and loyalty. Occasionally, I wonder if I would have been better off going to CIA or elsewhere, but I have to say that you're all making me very happy to have never gone to culinary school.

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When I first started in kitchens, the option to go to culinary school was there, but I never went.  Now, with five years in the business, I've managed to leap my way up to a top position in a top restaurant due to personal competence, honour, and loyalty.  Occasionally, I wonder if I would have been better off going to CIA or elsewhere, but I have to say that you're all making me very happy to have never gone to culinary school.

It makes me sick to my stomach to think I am $70,000+ in debt to a school that educates restaurant professionals and I can't even get a food runner job because I have never worked front of the house.

And I have not had one person hire me on the bases that I went to school, I have not a single person say, well the school degree is what sealed the deal for me. Nope. In fact most people say, oh you went to school, great I have another know-it-all. Let me just say my know-it-all tendencies were there long before I started school! :laugh:

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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While I agree to a certain degree that the president of a school should not have an open door policy to students - he/she must be visible.

Dean Beck of the Cornell Hotel School, long retired, used to walk the halls every day and had an announced open door policy.

I was at Cornell to check out the engineering school (I hope they have 86'd the Kuder Preference Test by now) in July before my senior year at high school. My father who had stayed at Statler Hall on a number of occasions, took me across the street to see the hotel school. We were walking through the deserted first floor class room corridor. Dean Beck came up, introduced himself, and ended up spending an hour telling me about the hotel school. Not sure why, since there always has been a waiting list - it's not like he needed to drum up business. But I had my application in a week or two later, and had early admittance that winter.

If Dean Beck had something to do that afternoon, I might well have spent my career doing whatever it is that engineers do.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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When I first started in kitchens, the option to go to culinary school was there, but I never went.  Now, with five years in the business, I've managed to leap my way up to a top position in a top restaurant due to personal competence, honour, and loyalty.  Occasionally, I wonder if I would have been better off going to CIA or elsewhere, but I have to say that you're all making me very happy to have never gone to culinary school.

It makes me sick to my stomach to think I am $70,000+ in debt to a school that educates restaurant professionals and I can't even get a food runner job because I have never worked front of the house.

And I have not had one person hire me on the bases that I went to school, I have not a single person say, well the school degree is what sealed the deal for me. Nope. In fact most people say, oh you went to school, great I have another know-it-all. Let me just say my know-it-all tendencies were there long before I started school! :laugh:

And thats what those of us who graduated long ago have been saying, especially to the ones asking the" which school is better?" Sorry for the harsh awakening. Hopefully your experiences will shine a clearer light for others thinking of entering the game.

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And thats what those of us who graduated long ago have been saying, especially to the ones asking the" which school is better?" Sorry for the harsh awakening. Hopefully your experiences will shine a clearer light for others thinking of entering the game.

Now, I guess that what I'm wondering about is all those restaurant job postings that you see up that require someone to have had culinary school experience (often just CIA), and not just kitchen experience. I mean, these aren't really places where I would work, but a curiosity. What does it change after you've been in this business for 5 years, 10 years, whatever? Can you really remember that cumberland sauce recipe from five years ago if you haven't had to make it for work in the interim? If two applicants had the same amount of time in restaurants, but one had a degree from CIA and the other one worked positions of more responsibility at better restaurants, wouldn't you hire the latter?

My parents keep asking me if I'd like to go to culinary school in the future, and if I feel like I'm missing something from having not attended. I used to think that I'd go if I decided to try pastry out, but then I did a stage at a bakery and a chocolaterie, and realized that I could supplement a formal education that way. At this point, school's probably out of the picture.

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Wow, this makes me long for the good 'ol days. I graduated from the CIA in *mumbledy mumbledy* - quite a few years ago. Metz was President, and he walked the halls every day. Everyone was able to talk with him, and he listened.

Perhaps I was lucky in my group - we all helped each other (unlike other groups who sabotoged each other), practiced knife cuts and any other skills that we could in our dorm rooms, and had a great time. We tutored each other in our strenghts, and did remarkably well as a group. I, for one, loved my experience there.

I (and my employers) have always valued my experience and degree from the CIA. I've run into some hiring managers who go through the whole "Oh, CIA degree - you must have an attitude!" b.s. Well, if you have a good attitude, it'll show and you'll get the job even if they're anti-CIA.

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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While I agree to a certain degree that the president of a school should not have an open door policy to students - he/she must be visible.

Dean Beck of the Cornell Hotel School, long retired, used to walk the halls every day and had an announced open door policy.

Robert Beck was a dean, not a president. That was his job. Hanging out and chatting with students is not traditionally the job of a president, whose job is fundraising, overall direction, etc.

--

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Alas, I read too fast. However in many ways the hotel school functions independent of the university - more so than most of the schools at Cornell. It might be argued that Dean Beck was both Dean and President of the hotel school.

Doesn't matter. I am glad I had/took the public opportunity to recognize the impact Dean Beck had on my career and my life - and those of countless other hotelies.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

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I made the right cjoice going to CIA. I am an "older" student and it was the only place I felt as many other did when I went in as they tried to get teh career changers together at one time - it worked - we lost 2 a lawyer that was a mess and a kid that was having a sleep walk and stealing construction equipment - but nice guy. My education was the best I paid for - you noticed I did not say mommy and daddy. I paid for - put it on a credit card and got frequent flyer miles and paid the entire balance off the next month! I wa lucky I had come froma great job and my wife was and still is the bread winner. But school politics is everywhere. But I was there - Got a STAR on my diplo,a saying I was there everyday to learn from some of the best chefs in the world - I did, I asked and I put out great stuff. Still drawing back from the foundations I had gotten in each and every class in some form or another...The CIA on my resume has opened doors to chefs that also are alums and discussions about the school is a lot and makes a lite conversation and always got a chance to cook. I never had any trouble cooking or my gift of gab. I had 2 that were uneasy on saying yes to me and I told one no and the other Ijust did not feel as if my skills were up to the standard they wanted right out of the gate. But the place I am in now and beofer I am Executive Sous. My first job out was sous then Exec Sous and still Exec Sous for 18 months. Putting out menus - developing new things and seem to be the bartender of the staff as everyone is coming to good ole me to talk about crisis either personal or business....oh well - I would not have changed th world with my deciosn - do I question that I left my nice ACd office with a view great MONEY and bankers hours...now - cranky members wanting this that are not on the menus - bartenders helping me with a cold concoction deal with the AC being broken and another 8 hrs left --- oh well - love the food not the place!

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Ah, to be in a position where "mommy and daddy" could pay for such things!!

It sounds like school worked out for you, then. Great! I've got friends who are thinking of changing careers now into this one, and the last thing that I want to do is completely crap all over their plans to study at a culinary institution.

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Culinary school is the fun part, everyone should try it. But its what you do after that really directs your career. As in Europe(all of my french and Italian chef friends agree, the culinary schooling wasn't that big of a deal) its all about the years of training with established(re:successful) chefs, learning and perfecting technique. Not all experience is the same, there is high quality and low quality, the high quality generally take a longer amount of time and is usually less paying, but its the experience of perfecting technique under quality leadership that the better houses look for. Nowdays everyone wants instant gratification, graduate to sous, or chef, instead of embarking on learning and perfecting the craft.

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I've got friends who are thinking of changing careers now into this one, and the last thing that I want to do is completely crap all over their plans to study at a culinary institution.

After being in this business 18 years, I figure it's my JOB to completely crap on the insane plans of any friend that wants to go to culinary school. I mean friends don't let friends drive drunk, right?

Sure, the culinary trade IS for some people. But before you decide to spend some crazy money on culinary school, know what you're getting into! Work in the food biz for a year (it's really easy to get your foot in the door WITHOUT a culinary degree you know....) THEN decide if you want to stay in the trade, and even better, do the math, and you'll know that what they charge for school isn't in line with most starting wages!

If you're thinking about getting into the food biz, you might want to read this.

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I've got friends who are thinking of changing careers now into this one, and the last thing that I want to do is completely crap all over their plans to study at a culinary institution.

After being in this business 18 years, I figure it's my JOB to completely crap on the insane plans of any friend that wants to go to culinary school. I mean friends don't let friends drive drunk, right?

Sure, the culinary trade IS for some people. But before you decide to spend some crazy money on culinary school, know what you're getting into! Work in the food biz for a year (it's really easy to get your foot in the door WITHOUT a culinary degree you know....) THEN decide if you want to stay in the trade, and even better, do the math, and you'll know that what they charge for school isn't in line with most starting wages!

If you're thinking about getting into the food biz, you might want to read this.

at least if you go to law school or medical school, you know you're going to come out making six figures. The only way you're making six figures in the culinary world just out of school is if you count the two places after the decimal.

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I've got friends who are thinking of changing careers now into this one, and the last thing that I want to do is completely crap all over their plans to study at a culinary institution.

After being in this business 18 years, I figure it's my JOB to completely crap on the insane plans of any friend that wants to go to culinary school. I mean friends don't let friends drive drunk, right?

Sure, the culinary trade IS for some people. But before you decide to spend some crazy money on culinary school, know what you're getting into! Work in the food biz for a year (it's really easy to get your foot in the door WITHOUT a culinary degree you know....) THEN decide if you want to stay in the trade, and even better, do the math, and you'll know that what they charge for school isn't in line with most starting wages!

If you're thinking about getting into the food biz, you might want to read this.

at least if you go to law school or medical school, you know you're going to come out making six figures. The only way you're making six figures in the culinary world just out of school is if you count the two places after the decimal.

I agree with this point very much.

I don't want to crap on school altogether. Some of the best training I ever received I got from CIA. I am actually amazed at how much better the pastry chefs are there than all of the restaurants I have worked in, then are definitely qualified to teach anyone.

My biggest point is not that school didn't help me personally its that it actually inhibited me from getting anywhere in the real world, not because of who is on the inside of school but due to the s&*%Theads on the outside who actually look down on me. I have sacrificed a lot to go to school and am still sacrificing, there is no need from someone to treat me like I am in the "green" because I went to school. I had a pastry chef in San Francisco insist I was in the green yet he couldn't deny that I performed the job very well. Since he constantly brought up the fact that I was "fresh out of school" that must have been the only reason I was in the green. Yet I thought it hilarious that he only had 4 years experience in the kitchen and I had 10. So how do you measure greenness?

Edited by chiantiglace (log)

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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I had a pastry chef in San Francisco insist I was in the green yet he couldn't deny that I performed the job very well. Since he constantly brought up the fact that I was "fresh out of school" that must have been the only reason I was in the green. Yet I thought it hilarious that he only had 4 years experience in the kitchen and I had 10. So how do you measure greenness?

You know, that's just crappy. When I hire people, I look at resumes and form a half-assed opinion, but I never assume anything about anyone til I see 'em in action. Actually, when I see culinary school on the resume, it gives me hope, but I know from experience that school is no guarantee. I always say, "audition audition audition".

If you performed well for that one pastry chef and he still didn't hire you, then he's a freakin' idiot fresh out of idiot school.

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well if anyone hires a chef - not a line cook - they had better have them come in a show what they can do -- I did mystery baskets - helped with dinners etc...first it gave me a look a them and they could look at me. One place was so discusting - I lost focus on my cooking demo becasue I had to clean before i could do anything and it was at the poit where I could not tell what stocks they had on the floor uncovered and not dated that all smelled the same with a great fat layer that I half assed my final plate of 3 and placed it - the exec and pastry chef started to do the Top CHef judging crap and I stopped them and said enjoy I am withdrawing from consideration due to the lack of cleanliness. So it is good to see them - but I would never consider anyone just due to paper UNLESS the credentials and experience was huge!

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My biggest point is not that school didn't help me personally its that it actually inhibited me from getting anywhere in the real world, not because of who is on the inside of school but due to the s&*%Theads on the outside who actually look down on me.  I have sacrificed a lot to go to school and am still sacrificing, there is no need from someone to treat me like I am in the "green" because I went to school.  I had a pastry chef in San Francisco insist I was in the green yet he couldn't deny that I performed the job very well.  Since he constantly brought up the fact that I was "fresh out of school" that must have been the only reason I was in the green.  Yet I thought it hilarious that he only had 4 years experience in the kitchen and I had 10.  So how do you measure greenness?

As a self admitted "know-it-all", chiantiglace, have you considered that it isn't the fact that you went to the CIA, but your attitude during your interview?

I certainly don't agree with the pastry chef in SF who considered you "green", but there are many possible reasons other than the CIA that the person didn't want to hire you and he just gave you that excuse. On the positive side, it could have been that this person felt threatened by your knowledge and abilities. You certainly throw yourself wholeheartedly into pastry and it seems like you know your s#$t...if this pastry chef has only four years of experience, he could be worried about his job.

On the negative side, if you're coming off as a "know-it-all", then you're not doing yourself or the CIA any favors. You and your fellow students are all reflections of the school. If a chef/pastry chef has come across more than one recent graduate who has a crappy attitude or an inflated sense of self-worth because they attended the CIA, that really sours the opportunities for others. When you show up for an interview and aren't as humble or respectful (while I'm sure this isn't what you did) as the interviewer expects (that isn't to say you can't be confident), that throws things off. Body language is very obvious as well.

And if you've been in the business as long as you have, you should definitely know that anyone starting a new job is green regardless of how long they've been doing it. You have to earn respect by doing. Unless you've already been a pastry chef or a pastry sous chef, then you're green and that's that. You can't take it as an insult, that's just the way it is. Work your way into everyone's good graces and you won't be the 'green' one for very long.

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well if anyone hires a chef - not a line cook - they had better have them come in a show what they can do -- I did mystery baskets - helped with dinners etc...first it gave me a look a them and they could look at me.  One place was so discusting - I lost focus on my cooking demo becasue I had to clean before i could do anything and it was at the poit where I could not tell what stocks they had on the floor uncovered and not dated that all smelled the same with a great fat layer that I half assed my final plate of 3 and placed it - the exec and pastry chef started to do the Top CHef judging crap and I stopped them and said enjoy I am withdrawing from consideration due to the lack of cleanliness.  So it is good to see them - but I would never consider anyone just due to paper UNLESS the credentials and experience was huge!

Do restaurants really do mystery baskets, still? I thought that the love-affair with competition style cooking had gone to Bravo, Food Network, and Miami.

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I am not talking about line cook jobs - most of your larger places you haev to cook for the board, F&B and others. I think of all of the places I applied I cooked all of them but maybe 1. Some places even on extern you had to go and shadow so yes it still happens...

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My biggest point is not that school didn't help me personally its that it actually inhibited me from getting anywhere in the real world, not because of who is on the inside of school but due to the s&*%Theads on the outside who actually look down on me.  I have sacrificed a lot to go to school and am still sacrificing, there is no need from someone to treat me like I am in the "green" because I went to school.  I had a pastry chef in San Francisco insist I was in the green yet he couldn't deny that I performed the job very well.  Since he constantly brought up the fact that I was "fresh out of school" that must have been the only reason I was in the green.  Yet I thought it hilarious that he only had 4 years experience in the kitchen and I had 10.  So how do you measure greenness?

As a self admitted "know-it-all", chiantiglace, have you considered that it isn't the fact that you went to the CIA, but your attitude during your interview?

I certainly don't agree with the pastry chef in SF who considered you "green", but there are many possible reasons other than the CIA that the person didn't want to hire you and he just gave you that excuse. On the positive side, it could have been that this person felt threatened by your knowledge and abilities. You certainly throw yourself wholeheartedly into pastry and it seems like you know your s#$t...if this pastry chef has only four years of experience, he could be worried about his job.

On the negative side, if you're coming off as a "know-it-all", then you're not doing yourself or the CIA any favors. You and your fellow students are all reflections of the school. If a chef/pastry chef has come across more than one recent graduate who has a crappy attitude or an inflated sense of self-worth because they attended the CIA, that really sours the opportunities for others. When you show up for an interview and aren't as humble or respectful (while I'm sure this isn't what you did) as the interviewer expects (that isn't to say you can't be confident), that throws things off. Body language is very obvious as well.

And if you've been in the business as long as you have, you should definitely know that anyone starting a new job is green regardless of how long they've been doing it. You have to earn respect by doing. Unless you've already been a pastry chef or a pastry sous chef, then you're green and that's that. You can't take it as an insult, that's just the way it is. Work your way into everyone's good graces and you won't be the 'green' one for very long.

Who said I didn't get hired?

I wish I hadn't taken the job because I respected that chefs drive to always want to know more. Unfortunately money was an issue. I guess we were too alike in the wrong places and too different in the right places, because at first we got along great, but things went downhill soon and he showed a severe distaste towards me for weeks. Which was unfortunate because the restaurant I switched from, me and the chef there had become very good friends, and I wish I could still work for him, but that restaurant pays less than the southeast and its tough to live on that salary in san francisco.

I have a gift of stepping on peoples toes, and it seems you have a gift of identifying that in me.

All in all, it was a good experience, but one horrible time in my life. I didn't want to get deeper into it, I just wanted to point out the misconception of the "greenness" because I had performed as a pastry chef for a restaurant and a bakery before I even went to school.

I am just young, persistent, and ill-content. Ha, yet still happy. Everything takes time, all we can do is make an argument from time to time until things start working out.

Edited by chiantiglace (log)

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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I am not talking about line cook jobs - most of your larger places you haev to cook for the board, F&B and others.  I think of all of the places I applied I cooked all of them but maybe 1.  Some places even on extern you had to go and shadow so yes it still happens...

Oh yeah, not line cooks. But, I'm still surprised that mystery baskets still exist. I haven't heard of them for a long while, but I suppose that's because my city is a fairly tightly knit community, and if you're getting a new sous-chef or chef, chances are you know him through a friend or another restaurant whom you trust.

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