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Le Cordon Bleu Schools

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I'm considering following this route. But these schools are very expensive. Are they really worth the cost? What makes their courses so good or are they over-rated? Any thoughts would be much appreciated. Thanks.

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This is a very typical question from many students, and it needs some explaining.

If you have already worked in the industry for a while, you wouldn't be asking this, as it would be very clear that the school is way overpriced. I don't mean this to sound mean spirited or snooty.

School is important, and so is experience. 90% of the employers are "colour blind" when they see the name of your culinary school on a resume. For them, the true acid test is a 4 hour shift in the kitchen: Either you know your stuff or you don't. And school is no guarantee that you do.

I really suggest looking at Community Colleges in your area.

Next, I strongly sugggest you talk to prospective employers and ask them what they pay. Then do the math on paying back student loans of your tuiton from a C.C vs tuition from a big name school.

Hope this helps

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Thanks for the reply. Basically you are saying, if I understand you correctly, that the big name schools are over-rated and too expensive? You didn't mention if you had studied at one of these schools yourself. Anyway, I would like to hear from some people who have studied at an LCB. I have to say that my intuition goes along with what you say EdwardJ.

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No, I did a 3 yeear apprenticeship in Luzern, Switzerland. It's true, I worked like a dog and got paid next to nothing, but on the other hand, never had any loans to pay off. Three years experience is 3 years experience.

IMHO N.Ameican culianry schools tend to "front end load" knowledge without balancing out the experience end of things. Call me biased, but an apprenticeship offrs teh best of both knowledge and experience.

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I have a baking and patisserie degree from a cordon bleu school. I would say that it was definitely NOT worth the money. One of my instructors (we had her for 9 of the 18 weeks) was completely incompetent. She went into the bread unit (which was 4 weeks of the class, mind you) saying bread was "not her thing" and we should go check in with some of the other professors if we had any questions. I didn't learn anything I hadn't already known, and it was $18,000. The other professor I had was great, but he left right after I graduated, and went to a community college to teach. This was just the baking part of the program though, I can't speak to the full culinary program or the hotel and restaurant management part. Of the 12 people in my class, I think maybe 2 of them are actually working in the field as of right now as their main income.


If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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Thank you for the replies. There hasn't been much support as yet. Interesting. :hmmm:

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I'm lucky in that my state college has a very good culinary program.

I'm slowly going through the program so that I can open my own place "someday." I've found that about one in four students in my classes are disgruntled former Cordon Bleu students who switched over for the lower tuition and better instruction.

That being said, all the chefs I've talked to are more interested in on-the-line experience than school. Knowing the "whys" is important, sure. But knowing the "hows" is more important.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I didn't go to LCB but another culinary program at a career college. If one was a person with no knowledge or experience I think there is some value in a culinary program. For me I have been self taught in a lot of things prior to going and there was little information gained from going to school that I could have learned by watching a few videos and practicing at home. Instead of spending $40,000, a few good books and videos would do. Go buy ingredients you have never worked with and practice. Going to a school I guess "forces" you to stay on track though, where many people would lack discipline to train themselves. And actual experience in a restaurant wouldn't hurt either. All my opinion anyway.


Tony

http://www.TwistedGrubHub.com >>> a social network all about food!

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Thank you all for your replies. You've given me some food for thought.

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I am actually a proponent of culinary school for some people. The school I attended was not a LCB school--I'm a graduate of L'academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, MD. This was a one-year certificate program, with six months of classwork and six months of paid externship in a restaurant kitchen. I already had BA degree and was switching careers, so I saw little need for an associates degree or for investing 2-4 years in culinary education. I liked that I was in and out fairly quickly. I worked every angle of the school as much as possible to juice as much from the experience as I could. I continue to connect with my fellow graduates, some of whom continue to work at food-related jobs.

I am a big believer in learning the hows and whys of food--I think both are extraordinarily important. I got a lot of both from L'academie. What I didn't get was the sense of urgency that restaurant apprenticing is so good at developing--or at weeding out, in the case of those who don't have the ability to work both quickly and precisely. But I got a lot of the sense of urgency when I worked at that externship.

I have continued to ask for advice and stay in touch with my alma mater in the years since I graduated. The fact that L'academie is so well-connected in my area to the restaurant scene is vital. There are other schools in the DC metro area, but none are as in touch with the food community as L'academie. Some of the really well-known schools like J&W and CIA have similar networks that can help you get the resources and access you need, if you work the network. I've had L'academie students ask to come extern with me, which I take as a sign of mutual respect and connection between me and my school.

I mention the fact that I am a L'academie graduate as a shorthand for "I have spent time learning intensively about many aspects of food." I don't think it makes me any better than people who didn't graduate from school. I run a small, successful catering business, and I write about and teach food and cooking. A lot of my competition in catering, writing and teaching lack the background afforded by a culinary education. I work this advantage shamelessly. School would be far less important than experience if I wanted to run my own restaurant someday.

You can read about my experience at L'academie in the eG Fridge here.

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Have you read ruhlman's TheSoul Of A Chef? It's a brillliant book, and also a thoughtful defense of culinarybschool.

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I'm going to have an extern soon who has just completed a LCB pastry program. When she stopped in the other day to set it up, she revealed that she had not worked in a kitchen before but was sure it was her passion. I hope she is right, but I am still amazed that people will spend so much money to get into a field they have never worked a day in. The actual work can be very different from the idea of the work, or how the industry looks on TV.

I really recommend that before you commit to school of any kind, find an entry level job or do an internship somewhere so you know what you are really getting into. A little experience will also give you a leg up in school and help you know which areas to focus on. Good luck.

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we get your students in to work with us at the ritz, some are really good, some not, my feeling`s are if you have that much money go for it, you will learn loads of thing that restaurant`s and hotels might not, from my understanding its lots of money.

when you say this route???? do you want to become a pastry chef??? if so then i would say no, get into a good place, and start at the bottom, i take it you have some knowledge in pastry as your on here, do an apprenticeship in pastry, the outlay you would of made on a school will make up for the poor pay us chefs get :raz:

it really depends on what you want, to work as a chef, or just learn more about what you enjoy.


i cook, i sleep, i ride.

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No, I did a 3 yeear apprenticeship in Luzern, Switzerland. It's true, I worked like a dog and got paid next to nothing, but on the other hand, never had any loans to pay off. Three years experience is 3 years experience.

Indeed Edward...and 3 years,thats a proper apprenticeship, I was 2 years Fachlehrer Konditorei/Confiserie in Lucerne...I squirm with embaressment when people say they apprenticed with me, a very talented lady worked 6 months 3 days a week for me before opening her own place in NY and I cant bring myself to ask her to take her quote down off her web-site as I really like her.

I have even known people claim they where 'apprenticed' after doing a 3 day Callebaut chocolate course...sad istnt it!

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when you say this route???? do you want to become a pastry chef??? if so then i would say no, get into a good place, and start at the bottom, i take it you have some knowledge in pastry as your on here, do an apprenticeship in pastry, the outlay you would of made on a school will make up for the poor pay us chefs get :raz:

it really depends on what you want, to work as a chef, or just learn more about what you enjoy.

Thank you all for your replies. In fact, I was looking at the LCB Thai Pro Cookery course. There are a couple other cookery schools which offer pro courses at a fraction of the LCB price and in less time. The LCB also offers restaurant management as part of their course which is for 7 months but I was more interested in the cooking side. I am leaning towards one of the cookery schools.

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Im currently at Liaison College here in Canada, and Im loving it. Small class sizes, qualified chefs who are not just talented but very very approachable. Im done in May, and the experience Ive learned here from costing, to menu planning, to of course actual cooking, is fantastic!

However thats just 1 experience. What works for me may not work for you. I agree to the comment about maybe going for a tour of the school, and maybe sit in on a lecture, or watch a practical session and see if it jives with you. Plus make sure its a place you can see yourself having fun!

Good luck!

Alex

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Have you read ruhlman's TheSoul Of A Chef? It's a brillliant book, and also a thoughtful defense of culinarybschool.

Good book indeed. But I would point out that Ruhlman isn't working in a kitchen and that he had his education paid in some manner as part of a book deal.

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Le Cordon Bleu schools are turning off the stoves and ovens.  http://www.eater.com/2015/12/17/10401492/le-cordon-bleu-cooking-school-america-closing  

Quote

The American operator of the French schools is facing new governmental regulations.

A friend teaches at the school in Atlanta.  Are we producing too many school trained line cooks that have paid a ton of money for their education.  Would we be better off stressing the ACF's program where they learn on the job (OJT) ?


It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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I know I'm a little late to this, but I still wanted to chime in. Personally, I wouldn't go that route. To me, just purely looking at it from pros and cons, at this point in time, I don't generally see it as worth it. I do hope someday that changes, but right now, weighing the cost vs what you get out of it....well, nope.

 

On the plus side of schools, you do learn a wider spectrum of things right off the bat. That is a plus early on. But at the same time, you don't learn *enough* of each thing, and as others have said, you don't learn urgency. At all. And even on a dish station, even as a prep cook, you still need to work with that. In terms of hiring for my own place, In most of the cases I found those who hadn't been to school just as knowledgeable, yet quicker, and more reliable. 

 

I know it seems silly to say things even like that, but in my experience, it's been true. Restaurant cooking is hard. Very hard. And sadly, most schooling doesn't ready you for the real thing. This whole business is built on people who push themselves, who care 110%. If a chef is successful someday, they aren't so just because they went to school, it all ends up being what they learned over the course of the career, things they had to push themselves to master and learn on their own, or if they went to school, *after* school is long done and gone - so if you're going broke and putting yourself into debt just to reach the same point in your career a few years in as someone who did not go to culinary school, why do it?

 

I'm not saying school is bad - I honestly and truly think education and learning are some of the most important things in life, but *at this point in time*, with how much culinary school costs and what you get out of it, I couldn't honestly say going to culinary school at this point in time is worth it, or will really get you that much further ahead than those who did not.

 

 

 

 


Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality.

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