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Four-year college or culinary school?


Harry91
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I saw a post on this site a while ago talking about "Unrest at the CIA". Apparently the school has been going downhill lately (in terms of education going down, cost still going up).

As a senior in high school who is applying to colleges, I was wondering if there have been any more developments at the CIA.

My original "education plan", was to go to Cornell University for 4 years and major in Food Science, and then go to CIA for an AOS degree in Culinary Arts.

If I don't get into Cornell, I do have backups (UF--cause I live in Florida, Purdue, Penn State), but wasn't sure whether it would be worth it to apply/attend the CIA.

So from what you guys have heard recently, is it still worth the money? If I do go, is the 2 year degree a smarter choice than the 4 year?

To put this into perspective:

El Bulli, Alinea, restaurants that use a lot of molecular gastronomy and crazy ass science techniques, hire one or two "food science chefs", who develop new techniques for their restaurants. My goal is to work for one of those restaurants as one of those chefs. I figure the best way to get there is a college education in food science, and a hell of a lot of cooking experience.

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I saw a post on this site a while ago talking about "Unrest at the CIA". Apparently the school has been going downhill lately (in terms of education going down, cost still going up).

As a senior in high school who is applying to colleges, I was wondering if there have been any more developments at the CIA.

My original "education plan", was to go to Cornell University for 4 years and major in Food Science, and then go to CIA for an AOS degree in Culinary Arts.

If I don't get into Cornell, I do have backups (UF--cause I live in Florida, Purdue, Penn State), but wasn't sure whether it would be worth it to apply/attend the CIA.

So from what you guys have heard recently, is it still worth the money? If I do go, is the 2 year degree a smarter choice than the 4 year?

To put this into perspective:

El Bulli, Alinea, restaurants that use a lot of molecular gastronomy and crazy ass science techniques, hire one or two "food science chefs", who develop new techniques for their restaurants. My goal is to work for one of those restaurants as one of those chefs. I figure the best way to get there is a college education in food science, and a hell of a lot of cooking experience.

I graduated from Tulane with a Biology degree and supplemented that with a two year stint at J&W. I had a friend that graduated from CIA recently and he said it was definitely worth the money. He went for only two years though. He got to do his externship at Jean Georges in Manhattan. School will definitely help with what you're doing and help with your salary. Playing with Ultra-Tex and agar agar is fun, but you are definitely right about the experience. School will help you establish your fundamentals and your experience over the years will definiltey hone them to a high level. I know this may sound elementry, but, remember, the food still has to taste good! :wink:

Hope you get into Cornell! Best of luck!

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Go to a 4 year college. It's always good to have a back up plan. Experience is important but that is also about the quality of the job experience and not the length of time. Depending on what kind of effort you put in and time management schedule you stick to, you can get the same "experience" in half the time. Getting experience is about staying focused on what you want to achieve and get out of it.

I agree that a 4 year college is not for everyone but it sounds like you are half way into that process. I went to culinary school and love working in the kitchen but decided to finish school and am working part time. I realized that having a backup plan in case stuff (accidents, family etc) would be a good idea because goals and perspectives always change as you grow. And getting more education in the area of interest should only help you further.

Especially in these uncertain times, it's good to have a degree to fall back on and a 4 year degree in food science sounds like a window to other opportunities you would've otherwise never thought about.

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pick up a lot of books. Sit down. Read.

Visit as many research facilities as possible.

experiment with ideas.

staige. staige. staige.

Save your money, go to UF, it has a very good food science program, not as highly rated as cornell but one of the best.

Search online for programs to sign up for, lectures to join.

In four years, you might not want to cook anymore.

These restaurants aren't going to hire some kid straight out of a university, regardless of what you want to do, you need to move around and gain some experience.

If your parents are paying your tuition, cia is a great choice. If you are paying for it..... well, lelts just say I think about that choice everyday of my life.

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'm in culinary school now (CHIC), and I feel it was one of the best decisions I ever made. However, it's easy to say that when I am living in a great city, spending all day learning how to become better at doing what I love. Once I'm out of school for 6 months and the student loans start to pile in and the rigors of real "adult" life close in on me, I do not know that I will feel the same way. I certainly hope I'm as excited in 2 years as I am today.

Anyway, whatever it is you choose to do, best of luck to you. If you end up going to Purdue, PM me. I'm from 20 minutes north of Lafayette and can tell you anything you'd want to know about the area.

-K

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I saw a post on this site a while ago talking about "Unrest at the CIA". Apparently the school has been going downhill lately (in terms of education going down, cost still going up).

As a senior in high school who is applying to colleges, I was wondering if there have been any more developments at the CIA.

My original "education plan", was to go to Cornell University for 4 years and major in Food Science, and then go to CIA for an AOS degree in Culinary Arts.

If I don't get into Cornell, I do have backups (UF--cause I live in Florida, Purdue, Penn State), but wasn't sure whether it would be worth it to apply/attend the CIA.

So from what you guys have heard recently, is it still worth the money? If I do go, is the 2 year degree a smarter choice than the 4 year?

To put this into perspective:

El Bulli, Alinea, restaurants that use a lot of molecular gastronomy and crazy ass science techniques, hire one or two "food science chefs", who develop new techniques for their restaurants. My goal is to work for one of those restaurants as one of those chefs. I figure the best way to get there is a college education in food science, and a hell of a lot of cooking experience.

First of all nowhere did i see you mention the two years of work experience that is needed to get into the Culinary. Secondly, the best suggestion that i can give you is to go to the CIA and do the 4 year program. that way you get not only the cooking aspect of the culinary, but the business aspect of the education. there are many different programs that the CIA offers in there 4 year degree program that will be beneficial to you in the course of your career. (cause god knows not everyone wants to be a commis for the rest of your life)

Let me know if you have anymore questions

chefjgates@yahoo.com

Tell me what you eat, and i will tell you what you are!

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It depends on where you want to end up. If it is as a chef, your plan sounds spot on. If you want to own a restaurant - a four year program like the Cornell Hotel School (my alma mater) or the CIA will serve you better. Your advantage with the Cornell Hotel School is that you can burn up your electives on food science.

I've been all over the place as an entrepreneur, including owning a restaurant and a couple of concessions. But also business totally outside of the restaurant business. My hotel school education has served me well on all fronts - especially the accounting courses. The Cornell Hotel School provides one of the best undergraduate general business programs for entrepreneurs.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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I saw a post on this site a while ago talking about "Unrest at the CIA". Apparently the school has been going downhill lately (in terms of education going down, cost still going up).

As a senior in high school who is applying to colleges, I was wondering if there have been any more developments at the CIA.

My original "education plan", was to go to Cornell University for 4 years and major in Food Science, and then go to CIA for an AOS degree in Culinary Arts.

If I don't get into Cornell, I do have backups (UF--cause I live in Florida, Purdue, Penn State), but wasn't sure whether it would be worth it to apply/attend the CIA.

So from what you guys have heard recently, is it still worth the money? If I do go, is the 2 year degree a smarter choice than the 4 year?

To put this into perspective:

El Bulli, Alinea, restaurants that use a lot of molecular gastronomy and crazy ass science techniques, hire one or two "food science chefs", who develop new techniques for their restaurants. My goal is to work for one of those restaurants as one of those chefs. I figure the best way to get there is a college education in food science, and a hell of a lot of cooking experience.

First of all nowhere did i see you mention the two years of work experience that is needed to get into the Culinary. Secondly, the best suggestion that i can give you is to go to the CIA and do the 4 year program. that way you get not only the cooking aspect of the culinary, but the business aspect of the education. there are many different programs that the CIA offers in there 4 year degree program that will be beneficial to you in the course of your career. (cause god knows not everyone wants to be a commis for the rest of your life)

Let me know if you have anymore questions

chefjgates@yahoo.com

HUH!?!

two years? it is 6 months required and we have discussed this countless times that it is so easy to side step the work experience required that anyone with a part time barista job can get in on that "experience".

Many different programs that cia offers? They offer three to be exact, nothing more, nothing less. Baking and Pastry, Culinary Arts and restaurant and hotel management. Though strangely in the 16 or so months for the bachelors program after the aos is finished only includes one culinary class where both culinary students and pastry students are jammed into one room (which I kind of like) and work together on not so advanced projects.

Harry, take it from a guy you may have a lot in common with. If it's science you seek, a strictly classical school like CIA is not going to enlighten you. But if its great food you seek, a university will give you little to nothing on that aspect. I can't tell you how many chemists and "food scientists" I know who couldn't scramble an egg or boil pasta. So you need to find out which is harder for you to teach yourself or gain understanding without formal education because I am sure you dont want to go to school for 8 years to work in a restaurant.

I chose CIA because I can very easily teach myself organic chemistry, and have. Though ingredients are expensive and so is equipment so CIA wasn't the worst choice in the world. The greatest thing about being at CIA was the constant discussion I had with my chefs. You won't get that automatically, you have to force it out of them sometimes. So figure out what will the easiest for you to understand relatively on your own and go from there.

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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From an academic point of view, there is no harm in doing at least your first year of university in food science. Then you can decide if the academic route is really how you'd like to begin your learning, and you can also determine if you'll be learning what you want/need to learn in that particular field. You can also work at restaurants part-time to explore the cooking angle further at the same time.

In my opinion, it would be easier for you to go into cooking after university rather than the other way around. (Only because it's very easy to forget "book learning", so if you're away long enough, it may be more difficult to remember the basics, so you'll be working harder than if you went straight from high school.)

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Choose a (a minimum) four year degree program no matter what school or what major....My brother graduated from CIA with the 2 year and regrets it because he realized that standing up cooking in a kitchen was not for him after the fact...He absolutely does not regret the education, but the fact that he hasn't a full four year degree to fall back on.

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I would agree with most people here. . .. Go to university. It'll open more doors for you, and you'll be able to then decide which path you want to follow in life. You could even do some part-time kitchen or restaurant work while studying to see if it's the kind of business that you're really interested in being involved.

Or, better yet, maybe get a kitchen post during your time between high-school and uni. Maybe take a year off in between and learn the basics of kitchen-work in that time. Usually, you can defer acceptance to a later year, giving you the chance to "find yourself" or whatever. This might help you make your decision before you pump the thousands of dollars into university OR culinary school.

But yes, especially if you're set on the food science route, you best education bet would be university before (or maybe even in place of) culinary school, and do some time in a kitchen during said period. Good luck

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Since I feel like I've gotten an excellent set of responses to my first questions, I have another one.

I've been juggling a lot of extracurricular things the past 2 years of high school, and I've always wanted to get a job or intern in a restaurant. However, because of music (i play horn in several youth orchestras), it's been very hard to find time to get a job.

Last year I was determined. Even if I had to drop the orchestra thing, I was going to work in a restaurant. I was absolutely shocked when, after approaching 11 different restaurants in my local area (to name a few: Onyx Bar and Grill, Blue Moon Fish Company, an indian restaurant, Big Bear Brewery, Flannagan's, Red Lobster, a mom and pop diner called Joe's, Taste of Italy, and Michael's), and was DENIED from every one. I tried different approaches; working for free, working part time, starting as a dishwasher. My only constant was, I wanted to be IN the kitchen, even if it meant washing dishes or cleaning the chefs shoe with a toothbrush.

Every restaurant told me they were not interested in hiring someone under 18.

To keep the CIA route open, i'm going to try again this december and find a job in a restaurant, so I can get solid experience from January to August.

Am I doing something wrong? Should I take a different approach?

Should I go for the national chains more (near me there is a Red Lobster, Big Bear, Longhorn Steakhouse, Chipotle, etc)?

I've talked to a lot of people, and I've gotten a response of "the restaurant doesnt want to take you on because they dont want to teach someone everything who might leave in 6 months to a year".

Any ideas?

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I'm a little confused. If I remember correctly, you once posted that you were offered an internship, but you didn't want to take it because it interfered with your orchestra practice. That wasn't so long ago...

I do remember when I read that, I thought, "This guy isn't really that serious about cooking."

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Back when I was on my "Ultimate Job Hunt", I was never actually offered a position or internship anywhere.

I was told by Blue Moon that IF they were to hire me, the only days they would want me in for were Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday would have been a problem.

In the end, they never offered me a job/internship, and simply said "Come back when you're 18."

I'll be 18 in February. Hoping luck will turn in my favor then.

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Find an alumnus of Cornell or CIA or another such program. Even better if you have applied to their school. Worked for me, though the restaurant owner kept on my case more than any of the other employees.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Back when I was on my "Ultimate Job Hunt", I was never actually offered a position or internship anywhere.

I was told by Blue Moon that IF they were to hire me, the only days they would want me in for were Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday would have been a problem.

In the end, they never offered me a job/internship, and simply said "Come back when you're 18."

I'll be 18 in February. Hoping luck will turn in my favor then.

Wednesdays were a problem because you had orchestra practice, but you just wrote you were willing to give up orchestra. Perhaps they felt the same reluctance I did, and that's why they told you to come back later--they wanted to see how much you were really interested in the position. By not quitting orchestra, you were showing them you really weren't that enthusiastic at the time.

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give it up, give it up, give it up, give it up.

Unless you are a godsend on the horn and it will carry you through college with a scholarship, GIVE IT UP!

I was very good at football and baseball, but I did not play a single year in all four years of highschool, though I was a competitive swimmer I was able to do that because my meets were during the winter when business was exceptionally slow so i was able to finagle myself to arrive at work later in the evening and take swim meet days off which may be once or twice a week, no biggie. But had swimming gotten in the way I would have killed that one too.

I was so devoted to work for more reasons than just career orientation, but thats beside the point. If you want people to take you seriously you have to gie up the elementary crap. This is an industry that will take your life away. Ha, there are so many threads here devoted to people who have had it with this industry because they are so beat up it kind of makes me laugh (because if I didn't laugh I would most definitely cry).

It was a good suggestion to search out CIA alumni, if they hear of your devotion to enter the CIA they are very likely to at least let you staige. If you have no experience I suggest you pay a lot of attention, their are a lot of rookie mistakes. I was fortunate to know probably everyone in the restaurant industry in my region through my father, so getting a line position at 15 was more than an easy task, I actually had selection of which place I wanted to work at, so I feel bad you are having such a tough time.

I am curious to know what part of florida you are in exactly?

And also I would keep chain restaurants as a last resort, because I think their are a lot of people in this industry that may hold it against you. A lot of ridiculous philosophy with chefs in this world. You can always contact the ACF as well. Check out conventions if one pops up, it will give you a chance to talk to local chefs, be persistent. There will be times when you are at a chefs door and all you want to do is walk away for fear of rejection, but that one time you were sure to get rejected will be the person to bring you on, so just get it in your head that whatever happens doesn't matter, you will make it someday.

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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Yep, you have to decide. if you only want to learn part time, then all you'll ever be is a part time prepper, peeling lexans of shrimp, chopping buckets of romain, portioning mountains of pasta,etc. Either commit to it or not. You only get out of it what you put into it. Give me a minute... i've bringing more cliches'. Plus your orchestra time will suffer. The previous advice given of going to a good college makes sense, you can work in a kitchen while you go to school.

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Back when I was on my "Ultimate Job Hunt", I was never actually offered a position or internship anywhere.

I was told by Blue Moon that IF they were to hire me, the only days they would want me in for were Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday would have been a problem.

In the end, they never offered me a job/internship, and simply said "Come back when you're 18."

I'll be 18 in February. Hoping luck will turn in my favor then.

Im reading my PMs right now and I see back in March I emailed the school and the extern office and got you a list of schools in the area, etc of CIA alums, and info to call the school and their office and this and that, to find a place with a CIA chef who would take you on.

What ever happened with that, eh?

Rico

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turkeybone--

I used the number and info you gave me to contact the CIA representative. The only CIA alumni in the area was a chef in Boca (at a country club/golf course).

I called him and he told me to come by and meet him that week.

I showed up, we talked, he showed me around then kitchen, and started to talk about which days were good/what I could do, when he asked my age.

Apparantly, there was a policy at that country club that NO employee or intern could be under the age of 18.

I went back to the CIA representative, and she said the only other CIA grads in the area were at least 45 minutes away from me (I live in Coral Springs, which is 45 min away from Ft. Lauderdale, an hour from Miami.

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there are alot of regulations and such about people under 18 using equipment or knives in places. In our kitchen we won't let anybody under 18 do any sort of prep work because of liability issues, so I'm sure that would be the case in many other places as well.

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My suggestion, then, is to tell these people that you will return right after your birthday and keep in contact with them. Make sure that they have a position available for you right when the law gets out of your way. For now, then, keep up with your orchestra and have fun for the last few months you've got until you enter this world. . . which is its own sort of dedicated fun. Hell, you're not even 18 and you're trying to decide who and what you want to be for the rest of your life. Relax. Enjoy yourself.

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You might consider it out of context with your goals - but 6 months at a well run McDonald's would demonstrate a willingness for hard work and give you some experience with the pressure of rushes and the importantance of customer service, clean as you go and sanitation. The key would be finding a McDonald's or other fast food restaurant that has strong management.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Contacted the CIA through the externship director. They put me in touch with Andrew Roenbeck, executive chef at the Boca Resort and Spa (they have 6 restaurants plus two grills). I emailed him, and after a few quick messages back and forth, he asked me to call him to set up a meeting. I went down there (the resort is about 30 minutes from my house) and went on a tour of the kitchens. After about 30 min, he told me he would take me on Wednesdays, every other week, from 5-9.

I'm in a couple orchestras (playing french horn) and I have rehearsals on Mon, Tue, and Wed. I tried talking my way into interning on Thurs or Fri, but he said he didnt want me in the way on those "busy" nights.

You didn't mention the 18-thing when you reported it. I guess that's why I'm confused. It wouldn't surprise me if they wouldn't let under-18s near a knife, but you could have taken another position anywhere--even dishwasher or busboy--at least to show you wanted to be near the kitchen, and to get the feel of what a busy kitchen is like.

You said in your previous topic:

I will do whatever job you need done (sweeping floors, cleaning the bathroom, washing dishes, prep work, peeling potatoes, etc). I can work everyday of the week besides Monday and Wednesday. I can be at work by 4 and can stay until closing.

If you would have done those things for free, then why not do them for pay at another place? Like McD's or a chain restaurant?

Your original topic was started 9 months ago. What did you do during summer holidays to get into a kitchen...any kitchen?

From everything you've written, both then and now, I really feel you're not ready to be in a kitchen, and that you're not really committed to that particular line of work. Like chiantiglace said, if you really want it, you'll do whatever it takes to get it. If you really wanted it, you'd be doing something...anything...and you'd already be in it in some way.

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