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Unrest at the CIA & the Import of Culinary Degrees


Tiny
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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.

This whole country knows each other, and it seems like connections are growing deeper and more elaborate every year. One person probably knows 5,000+ people in the industry and if you compound that by all the people that you know, knows, thats a lot of people at your fingertips.

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 found this kind of funny, and amazing too. I guess school helps some people.

Sous Chef wanted for unique contract food service origination. Previous experience working with TCM, Sodexo, or Aramark would be a plus. Ideal candidate will have previous experience cooking for large functions of 600 or more—previous catering experience would also be a plus.

All applying candidates MUST have a CULINARY DEGREE from an accredited college or institute—please understand; culinary certificates or classes such as Food Economics or Culinary Arts are not equal to a CULINARY DEGREE.

Company Benefits: Medical/Dental/Flexible Spending, 401(k) / Profit Sharing, Life and Disability Insurance, and Vacation / PTO, Advancement Opportunities

The salary for this position is $45,000 to $48,000 plus bonus / DOE

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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In the US is cooking considered a trade like it is here in Canada? School, apprenticeship, work, whatever route you decide to take it all leads, ultimately, to a Red Seal in Cooking. We have Red Seals in all other trades (plumbing, carpentry, etc etc) and I am wondering if you have the same.

The Red Seal is inter-provincial. It will travel with you across the country, and in theory is just as valuable in Vancouver as it is in St. Johns.

The difference here is the 'compulsory' aspect. Most trades *require* an apprenticeship for journeyman status, cooking does not, so anyone with enough applicable hours can apply to write the exam and get their papers.

-- Matt.

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I found this kind of funny, and amazing too.  I guess school helps some people.
Sous Chef wanted for unique contract food service origination. Previous experience working with TCM, Sodexo, or Aramark would be a plus. Ideal candidate will have previous experience cooking for large functions of 600 or more—previous catering experience would also be a plus.

All applying candidates MUST have a CULINARY DEGREE from an accredited college or institute—please understand; culinary certificates or classes such as Food Economics or Culinary Arts are not equal to a CULINARY DEGREE.

Company Benefits: Medical/Dental/Flexible Spending, 401(k) / Profit Sharing, Life and Disability Insurance, and Vacation / PTO, Advancement Opportunities

The salary for this position is $45,000 to $48,000 plus bonus / DOE

Wouldn't someone with ten years in banquet and large functions with an excellent resume and references be qualified for this job as well? What does the culinary degree that he/she earned a decade earlier have anything to do with current performance?

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Wouldn't someone with ten years in banquet and large functions with an excellent resume and references be qualified for this job as well? What does the culinary degree that he/she earned a decade earlier have anything to do with current performance?

You said what I was going to say, although much more succinctly!

They'd be fools to ignore a candidate so well qualified just because he didn't have that little "gold star" degree on his resume!

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I think ads like that are just meant to scare off certain candidates. Obviously if you have enough experience, they'd hire you. Besides, there are very few culinary schools that offer degrees. Most offer certificates. Unless they're talking about an AA from a community college program.

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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...

Really?

Maybe it's because I've worked mostly in smaller, high end restaurants, but I've never heard of mystery baskets for a chef. A very large part of being a chef (in my opinion) is sourcing ingredients, so what good does it do to cook with someone else's ingredients and mise-en-place? Not to mention making the stocks, sauces, and other operations which you really can't do in a short trial shift...

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huh??

in my experience, for a serious CHEF position where you have say on the menu, the people hiring you will 100% of the time MAKE you do a tasting for them. it may not be mystery basket but they often throw in some kind of twist to see how you react to obstacles in REAL time.

this is especially true in 'smaller, high end restaurants'

edited to add that I am a PROUD CIA alum and although I am not using my degree per se, the education and experiences I picked up CIA were world class and helped shape who I am today - CIA, you rock!

Edited by Ore (log)
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huh??

in my experience, for a serious CHEF position where you have say on the menu, the people hiring you will 100% of the time MAKE you do a tasting for them.  it may not be mystery basket but they often throw in some kind of twist to see how you react to obstacles in REAL time. 

this is especially true in 'smaller, high end restaurants'

edited to add that I am a PROUD CIA alum and although I am not using my degree per se, the education and experiences I picked up CIA were world class and helped shape who I am today - CIA, you rock!

Obviously,

Mikeb19 is most likely under 30 and it shows. You will learn that an even bigger part of being a chef is 'using what you have'. Rofl.

-- Matt.

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Obviously,

Mikeb19 is most likely under 30 and it shows.  You will learn that an even bigger part of being a chef is 'using what you have'.  Rofl.

-- Matt.

Yes, I'm under 30. As for my experience, I apprenticed under some of the best chefs in the country, and currently work as a pastry chef (just to round out my skillset) in an award-winning restaurant.

I'm not sure what's up with your quote 'using what you have', sounds like sarcasm. A good restaurant can make do with average ingredients no doubt, but if you want to be great, you need to start off with great product.

A chef isn't just a cook. A big part of being a chef is sourcing ingredients, finding the best of everything in season. Being able to adapt your cooking to suit the terroir, flowing with the seasons, etc... And then there's managing your staff, managing the business itself, etc...

Cooking is the easy part.

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Obviously,

Mikeb19 is most likely under 30 and it shows.  You will learn that an even bigger part of being a chef is 'using what you have'.  Rofl.

-- Matt.

Yes, I'm under 30. As for my experience, I apprenticed under some of the best chefs in the country, and currently work as a pastry chef (just to round out my skillset) in an award-winning restaurant.

I'm not sure what's up with your quote 'using what you have', sounds like sarcasm. A good restaurant can make do with average ingredients no doubt, but if you want to be great, you need to start off with great product.

A chef isn't just a cook. A big part of being a chef is sourcing ingredients, finding the best of everything in season. Being able to adapt your cooking to suit the terroir, flowing with the seasons, etc... And then there's managing your staff, managing the business itself, etc...

Cooking is the easy part.

I'd be willing to bet that Thomas Keller takes more calls than he makes from vendors trying to get him to buy quality ingredients.

Veni Vidi Vino - I came, I saw, I drank.
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I'd be willing to bet that Thomas Keller takes more calls than he makes from vendors trying to get him to buy quality ingredients.

Are you trying to be funny?

Anyhow, yes, once you establish relationships with suppliers then generally speaking they do phone you.

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Obviously,

Mikeb19 is most likely under 30 and it shows.  You will learn that an even bigger part of being a chef is 'using what you have'.  Rofl.

-- Matt.

Yes, I'm under 30. As for my experience, I apprenticed under some of the best chefs in the country, and currently work as a pastry chef (just to round out my skillset) in an award-winning restaurant.

I'm not sure what's up with your quote 'using what you have', sounds like sarcasm. A good restaurant can make do with average ingredients no doubt, but if you want to be great, you need to start off with great product.

A chef isn't just a cook. A big part of being a chef is sourcing ingredients, finding the best of everything in season. Being able to adapt your cooking to suit the terroir, flowing with the seasons, etc... And then there's managing your staff, managing the business itself, etc...

Cooking is the easy part.

Matt, sounds like a great speech if you ever want to give a demonstration, but the truth is, and maybe you will find it soon, that unless you are the french laundry trying to find good figs week after week before you can even think about changing the menu when the season ends for them is almost a full time job, not to mention the 250 other items that need to be in great quality every time. This is why there is so much discussion about gmo.

It is a constant battle, and its not even the biggest one. The biggest one is labor costs. So if the chef can make something great with standard ingredients I think thats good enough.

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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Matt, sounds like a great speech if you ever want to give a demonstration, but the truth is, and maybe you will find it soon, that unless you are the french laundry trying to find good figs week after week before you can even think about changing the menu when the season ends for them is almost a full time job, not to mention the 250 other items that need to be in great quality every time.  This is why there is so much discussion about gmo.

It is a constant battle, and its not even the biggest one.  The biggest one is labor costs.  So if the chef can make something great with standard ingredients I think thats good enough.

One thing I learned from my mentor, is to never use the phrase, 'good enough'. It indicates that you don't think you can do any better, or are too lazy to try to do any better, and have admitted defeat.

It's funny that the French Laundry keeps being mentioned, since I've worked with several people who have worked at the FL... Small world eh?

Edited by Mikeb19 (log)
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Ha, well think what you want. But the only way I have ever made myself look bad was by going too far. It's easy to over due it. If you step into a kitchen, and they ask you to prepare 3 courses from what they have in house, and you start calling up purveyors that they don't do business with because you feel like they are better and you think its not "good enough" well then you will probably be too good for them and maybe they won't want you around.

You have to understand, good enough is also humbling. I am still grasping that concept and for the people on here who know me are probably reading my words with confusion because I have a personality that is always asking for more. But you can easily go to far, politics is bullshit but there is also balance in life and it is important to find it. If you want to spend 120 hours a week keeping everything in the kitchen top notch and you aren't stepping on anyones toes, be my guest, but you will notice no matter how hard you try, things just get worse and worse. Refrigerators go outs, mixers go out, people quit, people want raises, the produce check in guy was sick so he didn't do a thorough job and now you are stuck with fish that has been left at room temperature and raspberries that came in half moldy.

Think of it as an assembly line. If you spend all your time making sure two pieces are perfect, sooner or later you are going to have a thousand backed up, but if you make sure that 90% are near perfect it may be practical to get the job done. So win one battle at a time, do a good job on the tasting with what you have. Get in and clean the the kitchen. Review the staff. Make the existing menu functional, slowly work out pieces at a time to how you want them. Work on new purveyors if you need them, get to know your mechanics and engineers that have been working on the restaurant from the start. And then after about 6 months to a year you ahve the restaurant in the palm of your hand and you will be controlling everything. Their is no need to show the owners all the changes you can and will make upon entering the door, infact that is kind of scary because they would like to hold on to as much comfort as they can, and if they are hiring a new chef that comfort is minimal. The last thing they want is you to come in like a hotshot and piss off a bunch of relationships they and the last chef have developed, and then they decide they don't want you, now they are double screwed.

A chef should be able to do many many things, but he doesn't need to prove that in two days to get a job, character goes a long way and the people holding the pay check are the ones judging it.

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 one of 2 trained and experienced chefs in the kitchen - here is the deal. While I am always striving for perfection in everything - neither one of us "2" can be doing the food all of the time. So good enough is a range. it is like you want 1 10 on everything but your acceptable range is 7 to 10. You have to take in consideration the skills of your staff....as far as getting the best ingredients - whover that post was above - you look for good quality for a reasonable cost. A chef can make something good from anything. While mystery baskets which I have talked about before are the test for a chef. You non chefs that all you talk about is Top CHef - well, while most of that stuff is not as "on the fly" as you would think - look at your fridge and write menus - for us chefs - the skill is in making something good from almost nothing. Flavor profiles - what goes with what - but I am not sure how this post has gotten so far from topic.

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It is not really that far off topic though, its part of understand the world of a chef today and why CIA and other schools are having problems, we have just tapered into the specific.

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 one of 2 trained and experienced chefs in the kitchen - here is the deal.  While I am always striving for perfection in everything - neither one of us "2" can be doing the food all of the time.  So good enough is a range.  it is like you want 1 10 on everything but your acceptable range is 7 to 10.  You have to take in consideration the skills of your staff....as far as getting the best ingredients - whover that post was above - you look for good quality for a reasonable cost.  A chef can make something good from anything.  While mystery baskets which I have talked about before are the test for a chef.  You non chefs that all you talk about is Top CHef - well, while most of that stuff is not as "on the fly" as you would think - look at your fridge and write menus - for us chefs - the skill is in making something good from almost nothing.  Flavor profiles - what goes with what - but I am not sure how this post has gotten so far from topic.

I would just like to echo those sentiments of "using what you have". I do agree to excel and really be at the top you need to source quality products though.

I would merely site "Iron Chef America" as a fabulous example of using-what-you-have.

Cheer

GB

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I am one of 2 trained and experienced chefs in the kitchen - here is the deal.  While I am always striving for perfection in everything - neither one of us "2" can be doing the food all of the time.  So good enough is a range.  it is like you want 1 10 on everything but your acceptable range is 7 to 10.  You have to take in consideration the skills of your staff....as far as getting the best ingredients - whover that post was above - you look for good quality for a reasonable cost.  A chef can make something good from anything.  While mystery baskets which I have talked about before are the test for a chef.  You non chefs that all you talk about is Top CHef - well, while most of that stuff is not as "on the fly" as you would think - look at your fridge and write menus - for us chefs - the skill is in making something good from almost nothing.  Flavor profiles - what goes with what - but I am not sure how this post has gotten so far from topic.

I would just like to echo those sentiments of "using what you have". I do agree to excel and really be at the top you need to source quality products though.

I would merely site "Iron Chef America" as a fabulous example of using-what-you-have.

Cheer

GB

if that really was what it is...they know their 'secret' ingredient long in advance and they have recipes worked out before the show airs. so, t.v. probably isn't the best comparison.

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Here is a little bit from an online job posting that I found really amusing:

"Ideal candidate(s) must have a passionate desire to run his or her own kitchen and a culinary degree from CIA—culinary degrees from other institutions might be considered depending on level of experience and other factors—candidates without a culinary degree however will not be considered."

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Here is a little bit from an online job posting that I found really amusing:

"Ideal candidate(s) must have a passionate desire to run his or her own kitchen and a culinary degree from CIA—culinary degrees from other institutions might be considered depending on level of experience and other factors—candidates without a culinary degree however will not be considered."

Yeah, I can see how an employer insisting on formal training is knee-slappingly funny. :rolleyes:

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Here is a little bit from an online job posting that I found really amusing:

"Ideal candidate(s) must have a passionate desire to run his or her own kitchen and a culinary degree from CIA—culinary degrees from other institutions might be considered depending on level of experience and other factors—candidates without a culinary degree however will not be considered."

Maybe it's a union thing. Perhaps the teamsters worked it out so that nobody could be promoted above them or into their crew without formal training as part of their contract with the hotel/institution.

But then again, I don't know much about unions.

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Although I am very new to this forum and to eGullet, the topic of culinary degrees is nothing new to me.

Here are my observations on the subject, based on my experience in the hopitatlity industry for last little while:

Cooking is a trade, period.

There is no national standard for cooking. There is national criteria for other trades such as plumbers, electricians, gas fitters, etc, but not for cooks.

There are many schools that provide the training for cooks Each school has it's own curriculum, text books, and methods. Some schools pump out graduates in as little as 4 mths, some as long as 2 or even 3 years. There is no standard to adhere to or to follow. I take issue with the schools who claim that their graduates are "Chefs". They are not. They are graduates of cooking schools.

A "Chef", imho, is a manager, one that hires, fires, trains, sources, book-keeps, and genuflects before the Boss, F&B , GM, Resident Mngr, or whomever. A "Chef" MUST be a competant cook in order to supervise, train, and demand from his/her staff.

There are no national standards for what a Chef must be responsible for. Cooking is only one aspect--a given, just like it's a given that we can all read and write. The Chef must be able to book keep, have the basics of H.R., know the local labour codes, the local Worker's comp. codes, the health codes, the building codes, and above all, be resourcefull.

There is no standards for a "Cook". It seems to me that "Cook" in N. America is a dirty word, something to be ashamed of. "Chef" sounds better and has been substituted for cook, ( and even turned into a verb too...) and this causes a lot of confusion.

Thus,

The employer has no tools to guage an applicant on his/her resume. A "degreee" can only suggest that the applicant is serious about his/her career, but that is all.

Never the less, it is a criteria that does seperate the wheat from the chaff. Not a very good tool, but a tool none the less.

Unions.. Let's not go there...

s

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Here is a little bit from an online job posting that I found really amusing:

"Ideal candidate(s) must have a passionate desire to run his or her own kitchen and a culinary degree from CIA—culinary degrees from other institutions might be considered depending on level of experience and other factors—candidates without a culinary degree however will not be considered."

Yeah, I can see how an employer insisting on formal training is knee-slappingly funny. :rolleyes:

The posting mentioned nothing about "formal training". A degree from the CIA and formal training are apples and oranges, my friend.

Amusing indeed.

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Here is a little bit from an online job posting that I found really amusing:

"Ideal candidate(s) must have a passionate desire to run his or her own kitchen and a culinary degree from CIA—culinary degrees from other institutions might be considered depending on level of experience and other factors—candidates without a culinary degree however will not be considered."

<laughter>

I guess this would disqualify Heston Blumenthal from the Fat Duck in Bray, England (The 2nd best restaurant in the world) as he is SELF-TAUGHT:-)

If he came looking for a job (which he never would) I seriously doubt they would say "NO" to him:-)

Where was this quaoted from again?

Cheers

GB

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