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Culinary Schools


haide
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I have always loved food and dreamt of opening a cafe / restaurant / boutique hotel / bakery / something food related! These are still just thoughts though... I am seriously considering going to culinary school to get a good grounding of all the techniques. However... a few things are holding me back:

- I'm not sure if I can be one of the best, or at least quite good, so am a little afraid to leave the life of an office worker.

- Am I too old? The chef's I read about start when they were 16, 17 years old...

- Culinary school is incredibly expensive... (I was checking Cordon Bleu, Ritz Escoffier). How do people cope with the fees? Do they generally work part-time? And I guess the French schools will expect fluent French, which presents another hurdle for me (I can ask for directions and that's about it!)

I'd be very interested to hear what the food-lovers/chefs/professionals out there think! :smile:

Heaven - steaming bowl of perfectly slippery flat rice noodles, coriander, spring onions, thin slices of marbled beef, hot hot hot broth...

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If you're looking to run a food service operation you might consider a school that offers Restaurant Management which includes a good basis of food preparation and cooking, but focuses on all aspects of managment.

As to age, you don't mention yours. I taught the business and computer courses at Phileadelphia's "The Restaurant School" for a couple of years back in the late 80's (they've upgraded their name to something else now - I'll track it down if it's of interest). Each class had a number of students in their forties or higher. I think my favorite student was a sixty year old former trauma nurse who had just retired. She had twice the drive of the youngun's and though she never quite came to understand computers, kept after it for hours and hours, until she could pass. So I doubt if you're too old.

Yes it's costly. And it probably takes up too much time for you to work part time elsewhere. The Restaurant School had classes all day and then worked the students into the evening running their restaurant. Student loans the way to go.

A good first step though before, as they say, quitting your day job might be to get a part time job in the kind of restaurant that interests you, give it 6 months, and then see how you feel about pursuing such a career.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Welcome, haide! Now that you're here, have a look at Malawry's Diary of a Cooking School Student and at Louisa Chu's "Food. France. Now." pieces in The Daily Gullet (click on the mouse in the guy's tummy above left). There are also other sites that devote much serious discussion to your concerns, such as this one with a forum for Culinary Students.

Depending on where you are, there might be nighttime programs that allow you to keep your day job while studying. Also, some community colleges have excellent programs at a much lower cost than the "big name" private institutions.

What Holly said about studying management is dead on. If you really want to start a restaurant or other food-related business, you'd better know the specific aspects of the business that are different from other industries.

However, I disagree with Holly on his last point: DON'T quit your day job to try out the industry. Instead, try to get a nighttime/weekend job, at least 3 or 4 days a week (full-time is better). You'll be exhausted, yes, but you won't be giving up your income just yet as you learn whether or not you REALLY want to make the change.

FWIW: I was 46 when I started in a Culinary Arts/Restaurant Management program -- not with the expectation of becoming a chef and having my own place, but just to be able to work in the industry. And since then I have worked the line, done pastry, sold catering, run a kitchen for a manufacturer, and done consulting to a startup. If you'd like to talk privately, pm or email me. I'd be happy to help you if I can. I love food and I love working with food!!

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Thank you for your supportive messages! It's great to learn of first hand success stories.

To tell the truth, I'm not really old. I'm in my twenties... it's just that I've heard a lot of horror stories about physical/mental hardships (abuse?) in kitchens by egotistical chefs and about the terrible hours (15 hour days for 7 days a week all year). Another thing is, people who have worked for years in a regular job have something behind them, I think it's fair for them to say ok, I've achieved this, now I can go for my dreams, and I can support myself financially too. But for me... it feels like I'm being petulant, not patient and mature enough to stick at something for long enough before running off to try something else that looks more fun.

Yup yup, I've read all of Louisa Chu and also Malawry's posts about going to culinary school. In fact, I've read some of those posts again and again. I find every detail engrossing... the foods they work with, the chefs, the techniques, the classmates...

They don't mention whether French is essential though?

Distance learning sounds like a great suggestion... perhaps I could do a hotel/restaurant management course, then when I am certain this is what I want, take a few months off and do the cuisine or patisserie classes.

Heaven - steaming bowl of perfectly slippery flat rice noodles, coriander, spring onions, thin slices of marbled beef, hot hot hot broth...

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However, I disagree with Holly on his last point: DON'T quit your day job to try out the industry.  Instead, try to get a nighttime/weekend job, at least 3 or 4 days a week (full-time is better).  You'll be exhausted, yes, but you won't be giving up your income just yet as you learn whether or not you REALLY want to make the change.

We agree. Here's what I actually said:

A good first step though before, as they say, quitting your day job might be to get a part time job in the kind of restaurant that interests you, give it 6 months, and then see how you feel about pursuing such a career.

That'll teach me to violate proper English grammar and splitting what ever it is I splat.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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And I misread what you wrote. :sad: That's okay, splat away!

haide, the language(s) you need will probably depend on where you go to school, and what language the course is taught in. (Holly, forgive me for ending the sentence a preposition with?) But my guess is that many of the bigger schools in non-English-speaking locations may have sessions in English :unsure: ? Believe me, the French Culinary Institute in NYC does NOT require knowledge of French. :raz:

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To tell the truth, I'm not really old. I'm in my twenties... it's just that I've heard a lot of horror stories about physical/mental hardships (abuse?) in kitchens by egotistical chefs and about the terrible hours (15 hour days for 7 days a week all year). Another thing is, people who have worked for years in a regular job have something behind them, I think it's fair for them to say ok, I've achieved this, now I can go for my dreams, and I can support myself financially too.
But for me... it feels like I'm being petulant, not patient and mature enough to stick at something for long enough before running off to try something else that looks more fun.

Your answer to this is in the opening part of that paragraph. Are you willing to endure the hours / physical and mental hardships to pursue the restaurant businesses. The horror stories are probably partially true in many restaurants, untrue or true in others. But it is hard work. It has to be something that deep, deep down you are driven towards.

They don't mention whether French is essential though

Only if you're opening your place in France. Probably wouldn't hurt if you're opening a French restaurant or pastry shop, either.

Or you can be like me and embarass yourself everytime you try to pronounce a french word. Back in the 70's, while working for an ad agency, we were taking some clients out to lunch. Even though it was a fast food account, with my four years at the Cornell Hotel School I had been touted as the "gourmet." Then I went and ordered a Salad Nicoise, pronouncing it to rhyme with "noise." Twenty some years later there are still those from around that table that take way too much joy in reminding me of that incident.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Welcome haide! I certainly understand what you are going through right now as I had all the same questions last year. I'm 39 and will be starting classes at the French Pastry School in July. You can read my initial cry for help (somewhat similar to your post above) and ensuing discussion here. It took me over a year of reading, talking, and yes, even therapy to finally make my decision to change careers. Of course having my job leave me helped to get my ass in gear :hmmm:.

Everyone has given great advice so far, so I will just add a couple more things to think about:

- There are a lot of career paths in the culinary profession other than working the line. If you just want to be involved in the industry, do some research into other possibilities if you don't feel you can "take the heat".

- If you get out of culinary school and find you just HATE working in restaurants (and the part-time suggestion above is great if you can find the work), you can always go back to office jobs. Nothing is forever and some people change careers many times during their lives.

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haide, welcome to eGullet.

Holly, Suzanne and nightscotman have given you great advice. I can answer your questions about Le Cordon Bleu Paris.

Are you too old? No. But that's not even a question you should be asking yourself. Do you have the physical and mental stamina? Yes, French chefs typically start their culinary education at 14 - but you cannot compare yourself to that system.

How do people cope with the fees? Some people don't need to cope. I received a James Beard Foundation scholarship which covered part of my tuition. If my then-boyfriend had not talked me into coming to Paris immediately, I would have found scholarships to cover all of it. Check out JBF and IACP but there are many, many others. At LCBP, students with a Basic pre-req or equivalent can work one session as an assitant for the next session's course credit. For example, finish 10-week Basic Cuisine and/or Patisserie, work 10 weeks as an assistant, then receive credit for Intermediate Cuisine OR Patisserie. And you're better off taking Cuisine as the credit since it costs more than Patisserie.

Do they generally work part-time? No. Some people do but unless it's as an assistant it will be under the table. Babysitting, bartending, private cheffing, etc. - variations on the same thing.

Do the schools expect fluent French? No. But it really, really helps. Basic and Intermediate demos have an English translator. None of the practicals do. Superior demos in French. The best stages go to students who speak some French.

The abuse. It's real. At LCBP, Basic is boot camp. They will break you down. I've had chefs screaming in my face so hard they're spitting. Throwing razor sharp knives down in front of me. Yelling at me to dip my fingers into hot sugar. But that's nothing compared to the top pro kitchens. One friend tells me she saw chefs shoving cooks - women included - down on to the floors, on to their backs. It's not this way with all chefs but expect that it can be.

Terrible hours? If you own your own business there's almost no such thing as hours. It's your life.

But the bottom line is that - I'm sorry to say - LCBP will not teach you how to own your own food business. We do not deal with money. We deal in French haute cuisine.

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Welcome, haide. All your questions are familiar to me, since i was a mortgage loan officer at a bank when i decided to start attending culinary school nights and weekends at the age of 37. For most of the first two years, i continued to work full-time at the bank and attend school in my "free" time. I think i had an advantage in that i'm single and don't have any children, so my time was my own to schedule.

Last fall, after eleven years at the same bank, i was finally forced to take the plunge when the bank decided to let me go after upper management became aware that i was planning on switching careers. At first i was scared to death, but i went out and immediately got two jobs, one with a catering service and another at a bed and breakfast, by virtue of my experience at school and on the culinary competition team. People who know me well say i'm a far more relaxed and happy person since making the switch. Money's tight, but then i have the extra money saved on parking downtown for years ($125 a month), eating out for lunch 20 days a month, and panty hose. I never realized how much money i was spending on panty hose...my god. If i never have to wear stockings again, i'll die content.

At my school (National Center for Hospitality Studies at Sullivan University in Louisville), there's a lot of financial aid available. Of course, student loans have to be paid back eventually, but not until after you stop going to school. And there are tons of grants and scholarships available, too. The amazing truth is, here i am in my tenth quarter, and i haven't paid one penny out of pocket yet for tuition, books, lab fees, uniforms or standard knives. (Naturally i've spent money on "pet" knives and good clogs, but those things are, of course, optional).

Finally, remember, you don't necessarily have to work the line to be a culinarian. I think i'm too old to stand in a hot restaurant kitchen for the next 20 years, but there are so many other facets of the industry to choose from - i find i really enjoy being a bed & breakfast chef, cooking for a controlled number of people for a few hours a day is a good introduction to the world of food service (for me, anyway).

It's good to know French, but, frankly, it's probably more valuable to learn fluent Spanish in our industry. You'll absorb the French cooking terms as you go, but unless you're actually going to work in France, English and Spanish will stand you in good stead.

My only regret about the whole thing is that i didn't do it sooner! Good luck!

Marsha Lynch aka "zilla369"

Has anyone ever actually seen a bandit making out?

Uh-huh: just as I thought. Stereotyping.

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Regarding the "where" in your topic title, there's a Web site: The Guide to Career Cooking & Wine Schools. It's a free, online directory from ShawGuides with 522 career cooking and wine schools worldwide. It looks pretty good. I took a look at my school (Art Insitute of Seattle) and here's what it shows:

Website http://www.ais.artinstitutes.edu

Year Established...................1996

Sponsor Description .............2-year college

Program Description .............7-quarter AAA degree in Culinary Arts, 4-quarter diploma in Baking & Pastry, 4-quarter diploma in The Art of Cooking

Accreditation ........................NASC, ACF

Admission Months ................Rolling

Total Enrollment ...................300

Enrollees Per Period .............60

% Accepted ..........................65

% Financial Aid .....................75

% Part Time .........................13

% Employed .........................95

Facilities ...............................Kitchens & classroom space, dining room overlooking Puget Sound

Courses ...............................Basic skills, baking & pastry, desserts, American regional, classical, international, & Mediterranean cuisines, health-related cooking, charcuterie, cost mgmt, menu & facility planning, dining room operations, show platter design & competition

Intern/Externships ...............Internship program with restaurants & resorts in the Western U.S.

Faculty .................................18 culinary instructors with industry experience

Student:Teacher Ratio .........19:1

Tuition .................................$13,680/academic yr for AAA degree programs, $8,208/academic yr for Diploma programs

Admission Requirements ......High school diploma and admissions interview

Scholarships .........................Yes

Loans ..................................Yes

Quarter ................................Yes

Core Curriculum ..................Yes

Location Description ............On the waterfront overlooking Puget Sound

U.S. Locations ......................Seattle, Washington

Months .................................January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Tuition Range >9mos ..........$10,000+/yr

Contact ...............................Lori Murray, Associate Director of Admissions Art Institute of Seattle Admissions Dept., 2323 Elliott Ave. Seattle, Washington 98121

Phone: 800-275-2471, 206-448-6600

Fax: 206-448-2501

E-mail: aisadm@aii.edu

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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haide,

I was in your position 9 months ago when I first seriously considered starting at a culinary school. I just started a month ago and I am very glad I did. It involved moving to a new city and completely altering my life and my worldview. The school I attend is the Cooking Hospitality Institute of Chicago, which has a Cordon Bleu cirriculum. It's a 2-year program, and after that many students go on to the Cordon Bleu in Paris or London (where I'm going). There is an emphasis also on the business side of it--purchasing, cost control, etc.

loufood is right when she says there is abuse. Chefs aren't the type to mince words. You will know very quickly if you have what it takes to be hollered at and made fun of in front of your peers. I generally think it's funny, so I'm all set when it comes to that aspect of it.

It's expensive. It's very physically demanding. It's time-consuming--once I was the proud owner of a flourishing social life, now I am in bed by 9 PM almost every night. Almost half of my class dropped out by the end of the second week.

You have to be prepared to make it your life. That's really all the advice I can offer. If you don't think you're prepared to do that, I would run for the hills.

Good luck.

Noise is music. All else is food.

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People who know me well say i'm a far more relaxed and happy person since making the switch.  Money's tight, but then i have the extra money saved on parking downtown for years ($125 a month), eating out for lunch 20 days a month, and panty hose.  I never realized how much money i was spending on panty hose...my god.  If i never have to wear stockings again, i'll die content.

Oh, those are the words I have spoken myself to someone else in a different forum that struck such a note of identification among so many of us, particularly the panty hose. (Do you notice now you have the hardest time trying to put those things on now??? It's like some weird ancient tribal dance of maneuvers!)

zilla369, mostly what I enjoy about your post is the you need not stand on a hot line to be a culinarian. There are as many options as there are types of restaurants and/or food service kitchens. I work in a casual themed busy restaurant whose kitchen is run by two very talented chef graduates of CIA and J&W. They have been an invaluable source of knowledge and encouragement. I've waited tables, bartend, have expressed my passion for pastry, created pastry for the restaurant (on request), have stepped in to do prep, done shifts on the cold line and a few lunch shifts on the hot line.

I've reviewed pastry at French Culinary Institute and CIA and choked on the tuition myself, not to mention the cost of living.... So, while I've got my fingers in many pies at this moment, I still haven't committed wholeheartedly on what I want to do when I grow up! But I love it! I enjoy our restaurant owner, and I enjoy that I have a good relationship with our heart of the house (particularlly when they indulge me with my adventures and curiosities in pastry) and I can still throw a party for my regulars on a busy nights FOH bartending. I know it is chaotic. But our restaurant is very seasonal, so in the slow season I tinker more in the kitchen and when "in season" I'm ringing as many cocktails and beers as humanly possible.

You need to follow your passion. If I listened to those who did not understand and tried to discourage me because I was leaving a white collar office position, partially law school educated (had a couple more years to earn the Juris Doctorate), I would have never felt this content, yet wildly enthusiastic with a smile on my face every day that I show up for work.

As for chefly abuse. Well, it happens and there are so many reasons motivating it than probably can be counted. Show up for work sharp and ready for work, be early instead of on time and never late, keep an open mind to learn from everything and hold tight to your self confidence in your skills and you've conquered more than half of the battle. The rest is all up to your stamina, energy and your interpersonal management skills of how to deal in a potentially confrontational atmosphere. It can be very personally taxing but oh so much more satisfying!!

Good Luck haide! Keep us posted on your journey!!

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They don't mention whether French is essential though?

.

From what I know of most of the restaurants here in the US you would be much better served by learning Spanish.

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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Everything everybody else said and one more thing - at the Cordon Bleu London you need to know no French AND you can split up the pastry and cuisine cycles and still get a Grande Diplome, it will take 18 months instead of 9, this is what I have done - Louisa started and finished in the time I have been there, and I won't graduate until June!!

OK, maybe 2 more things - go with an open mind - I went in fully expecting to continue my lifelong dislinke of pastry and fully expecting to barely pass pastry, I was of the mind that I would do it just to get the Grande Diplome - well guess what?!?!?! Now I'm considering going into that area, although I still don't like eating it!

Good luck!

www.nutropical.com

~Borojo~

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I didn't have to learn French to attend L'academie de Cuisine, which is run by a Frenchman and has a French name. We had to turn in menus in French for grading, but the menu was written on a whiteboard in French every morning so all we had to do was copy down French. I've used absolutely no French in the kitchen, but I sure have boned up on my Spanish skills.

I don't think I was ever mistreated, but I definitely had to develop a thick skin. I can joust verbally with the best of them at this point and I laugh at myself first most of the time anyway (let's face it, most of my mistakes are on some level hilarious). As for physical stamina...you learn fast how to move fast, how to cut fast, and how to juggle several hot pans at the same time. If you care about being able to handle it and work at it you will be able to hold your own in a kitchen. I'm a slow person in terms of movement by nature so I had, and still have, a lot to overcome. But I knew that in advance and tried to prepare myself for it.

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Thanks everybody for the very encouraging words! Is it because it's so tough in the industry that most eGulleters are so supportive?

Thanks Suzanne, for the chef talk cafe link, I shall be a frequent visitor. I must do more planning and asking around... the best thing will probably be to work part-time for a few weeks, then to embark on a Master's of some sort which includes some culinary training. Although full-time culinary and pastry classes still have a magical pull on me!

Nightscotsman and Zilla, you brave, brave souls... It's wonderful to know that you took the leap and now know for sure that you have done the right thing. I'm 23 and I suppose for all intents and purposes, this is the start of the journey; I have much to look forward to and shouldn't be having an identity crisis. :blink:

Louisa, thanks for the tip on scholarships and working for credit. I will definitely look into these (but not just yet as I still have to take care of my full-time job!), but I guess there will be difficulties if I am not a US resident? I'm technically Asian-Australian. Australia has a great hospitality industry, but the greatest of the great are still in Europe and the US.

Nice, thanks for the link to that directory! I've been googling around for something like that but haven't managed to find any good ones.

NeroW, must be very exciting for you to start at a new school in a new city. Will you do some diary-like posts on what you're doing and how you're doing at school? Good luck for now, hope you do well and have a great time!

Malawry, it's the Great Diarist herself! How is your first kitchen job?

I suppose it's just bias on my part but I feel that if I were to go and learn French cuisine, I should do it at Cordon Bleu Paris rather than anywhere else... although I wouldn't mind London or NY... which are both amazing places but extremely expensive! I have also thought about going to Spain or Italy, but French cuisine to me still represents the most comprehensive training anybody should get in cooking. Then I can go about picking up the local knowledge and traditional techniques of other cuisines. Chinese culinary skills are another story altogether, I don't think I want to even contemplate going there, even though I love Chinese history, culture, and the amazingly diverse foods... The field is just too anti-female. A friend of mine ask for work at a famous kitchen for a chance to observe and learn, but was refused point blank. They even articulated the reason,"We will never teach you because you are a girl." :angry: Ouch. I shall bide my time.

P.S. I don't wear panty hose, it gets too hot and humid here :raz:

Heaven - steaming bowl of perfectly slippery flat rice noodles, coriander, spring onions, thin slices of marbled beef, hot hot hot broth...

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NeroW, must be very exciting for you to start at a new school in a new city. Will you do some diary-like posts on what you're doing and how you're doing at school? Good luck for now, hope you do well and have a great time!

haide,

I am doing that. Maybe someone who is computer-savvy can post a link.

Also, I'm 23 years old. You're not too old. For shizzy.

Noise is music. All else is food.

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i'm 28...attended school with malawry...and am finishing up my externship; my first kitchen job since i was 16 and working at sizzler.

i am now moving up to poissonier for an esteemed chef at palena restaurant.

i really want to excel and succeed in this business.

ifd you have passion for it; and really want it; the skills will follow.

the demanding hours arent as demanding as some people say. as a line cook at a fancy restaurant you will probably work about 50 hours a week (though there are exceptions.

check out l'academie de cuisine. it is a shorter program; and we do miss out on some stuff that the longer programs do teach; but honestly, i work with people from the cia, j&w and other schools; and graduates from our school are taught the skills and techniques nececarry to succed in this business.

and after 6 months at l'academie you will be in the field working at a top notch restaurant...just think where you will be in 2 years, as opposed to tthe other schools where you will still be in classroom work.

good luck.

Nothing quite like a meal with my beautiful wife.

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If I were you, I'd definetely go to a top restaurant kitchen and work for free in your spare time. It's a crazy life and it's not for everyone. I work in a 3 star restaurant here in nyc and it is absolutely exhausting. The money is terrible, the hours are worse. You won't get to see your significant other, and when you do you'll be too tired to care. Getting to the top in this industry is like a high school basketball player wanting to be in the NBA. The odds are tiny. At my restaurant I see people who have been cooking for years on end, who seem to have their shit together, and are simply amazing cooks, yet they still don't have what it takes to be a great chef. You need to sacrafice your entire life for cooking. Oh yeah, you will have no insurance, so don't hurt yourself or get sick! I find I can't afford to go out to dinner in nice restaurants anymore, and buying a cookbook is a luxury. You will sweat, stink, and do more physical work than you ever thought possible. And the heat! You wouldn't believe the heat behind the line. Your hands will be bright red and sore from the ambient heat off the flattop. It's not glamorous by any means. Enjoying food and cooking for yourself is great, but when you have to do it everysingle night for 150 people it's completely different. Don't fall for the commercials for culinary schools where the students are wearing gleaming whites and fawning over beutiful produce. Sure, in school there is plenty of time for that. But in the real world that doesnt happen. You simply have too much work to do. This may sound harsh, but it's reality. I loved food and cooking to the point of obsession before I got into this business, but you will quickly see that it's not fun and games. It takes an odd person indeed who wants to live a life like this. So work for free. See what it's like in the best restaurant that will take you. I would hate to see anyone put so much money into school before they knew what it's like.

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haide,

If you are in Australia, go to Le Cordon Bleu in Adelaide - it has by far the most complete program in terms of cuisine, pastry and management...You can get a Masters in Gastronomy, which you can't do at the other schools...

I have a friend who was doing the Classic Cycle and trasferred from Australia to London schools, and she did way more work in the kitchens that loufood or I ever did in Paris or London respesctively, we're talking 5 hour practicals in the kitchen where you have to make 3 courses and dessert in one go, as opposed to our 2.5-3 hour practicals.... She found Superior Cuisine to be a cakewalk here compared to what she was doing in Basic Cuisine in Australia...

Take a look:

http://www.cordonbleu.edu/

www.nutropical.com

~Borojo~

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If I were you, I'd definetely go to a top restaurant kitchen and work for free ... I would hate to see anyone put so much money into school before they knew what it's like.

Good post. Let me relate a story of someone who got a Diplome Cesar Ritz (I think that required about two months of schooling) at the bilingual Ritz-Escoffier in Paris while on leave of absence from an academic university. At the time, the interest in food was on a non professional level and the term off from school was to slow down a torrid academic pace and graduate with the rest of the class. After college graduation, an interest in a culinary career arose. The advice of a famous NY chef was to go to culinary school. Our subject wanted to see if the business was appealing from the inside and offered to work for nothing before committing to culinary tuition. An offer by the chef required a three month committment and proof of health insurance. The offer was taken and extended to six months when after three months, this stagiare was telling culinary school graduates what to do and how to do it and for this person, working for nothing beat paying tuition. After six months this person had a paying job in a good kitchen and a few months later was in charge of the pastry kitchen in a very good restaurant. I don't mean to prove anything other than that there are many alternatives. I suspect the short Ritz-Escoffier session was necessary and I'd note that there was a history of appreciation of excellent French food. I'd also say that this was one very bright, determined, stubborn self starter.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I am jumping into this conversation a little late. But I would like to add a few thoughts.

I will be attending C-School in NYC in about 3 weeks. This has been a passion of mine for nearly 15 years. I owned a large Landscape and Sprinkler biz for 13 years and somewhat retired from that, went into sales and never felt fulfilled. Hard work, well I would say been there done that, long hours ditto. I first started looking into schools over a year ago, narrowed it down to a few and then made my final selection. I was given the advice "If you want to be a chef or be in the industry, you should go work in it for a while" Well, I have a friend that owns a little Boise 3-Star restaurant. He is a CIA grad, I told him what I was planning. He threw me straight into the line. So on top of my 8-5er, I was working evenings, in what we term "The middle man" , responsible for a little saute, grill, saucing, plating and setup. On a busy night we would do 70-80 covers. With only 3 guys, me being one of them. I loved it, it was hot, sweaty, highpaced and addrenaline filled. Actually I found I had a knack for this. He actually started letting me come up with some dishes for the menu, and they sold well. It seemed fairly easy. Well, I then heard about a Sports Arena here, that was looking for part-time help in prepping for large events, so I applied and got that job as well. So I could experience Large Scale Kitchen/Banquet work. We would do dinners for 60-2000, in a very large commercial kitchen. So I have seen it from both sides for about 8 months, and love it. I am 38 years old and do not know where this will end up going, but I am on for the ride. I have all the business skills, have a great work ethic and I am driven and passionate. I do plan on opening up my own place down the road, where I do not know.

The money is out there, you can't afford not to borrow money now, I am paying some out of pocket and some out of loans. It will cost somewhere between 40-50k with living expenses. My family is very supportive as well,as that is a key. I would say if you are passionate, driven and willing to do what it takes..........GO FOR IT!!!

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It takes an odd person indeed who wants to live a life like this.

Indeed.

Indeed, indeed.

But remember, too, that not everyone who goes to c-school ends up in a restaurant, or even cooking professionally anywhere. There are many, many different jobs out there (have a look at the IACP website). And I think that those of us with experience in other industries, and other skills, have a lot more options for that variety.

And Belmont3, :wub: Have a blast at school!

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