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Are professional schools for amateurs as well


Lesley C
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QUOTE=jersey13,Jun 30 2003, 11:22 PM] How do we :

B) Ensure that it will not change after the completion of the program?

Not particularly relevant to the determination.

Sure it's relevant. If we're saying that these hobbyists shouldn't be sharing the same programs as the potential pros because they are not pursuing the program as a career, then I think it's definitely relevant.

And, how can we determine that a "hobbyist" won't develop the "pro/vocational" mindset during the course of study?

That's a good time to transfer from the hobbyist program to the vocational program.

And which pro will be yielding his/her seat to make this happen? What you're saying make sense, but now the logistics are a problem. :smile:

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Schools are great opportunities to see what it wont be like when you get your first job. However its a great time to experiment and ask lots of questions. Just stray from the cooks in school who slack off. Break time? Take 5 not 30. Youre paying for it, get tho most out of it. Dont know how to make that crazy liquid center ice cube you heard about? Now is time to investigate. Dont understand the purpose of sonic waves and how they cook food? Find out. A cook should have at least a sliver of an idea what THEIR voice in food will sound like ten years down the road. Culinary schools are great for that.

Excellent post. I love that: "a great opportunity to see what it won't be like when you get your first job."

Last week, we figured out (on a 10-minute break) that it costs us $140 a day to go to school.

As far as the subject of this thread, I still believe that amateurs have as much right to a culinary education, at LCB if they so choose, as anyone else.

However, I am an amateur, myself. :wink:

Noise is music. All else is food.

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I will have to chime in on this one. I don't think one could easily lump an entire student body into any one "sort;" I think you would find that even those one would want to judge as "dilettantes" may, if one dug deeper, defy the obvious judgment and reveal a more abiding reason for attending school. I can tell that in my case, at the crest of going to FCI, I don't fit easily in any mold; and I am not unique. I am middle class, and will be going into considerable debt to enter, at 41, into a profession where the financial remuneration is woefully less than I make now. I have a wife and child. I have little professional experience in a kitchen. I also know that I have had an unabated passion for French cooking since I was about 12, when I first worked my way cover to cover through La Technique. Were I single, and 16, and able to live again, I might have bagged Berkeley and apprenticed the years in France. But FCI will provide an opportunity to do something workable at this stage of life which I would not otherwise have.

I know, too, that the same mileu will likely exist at FCI as existed at Berkeley. Those who are there only to satisfy anything but the sound of their own, true voice, will get out of it exactly what they put in, and no one will be "dragged down" by their lassitude. I know of few teachers who are charmed by indolence, self-indulgence, or petulance. I know many who respond to sincerity.

What I am centrally saying is that it seems to me the proof is in one's ability, to borrow from Chef Pepin's apt description in his Memoirs, to "kick ass." The heat of the kitchen, whether in school or on the line, is the same for everyone, and noone gives a damn where you came from - can you work? Everything else is meaningless, as is discussion (or critiques) about people's motivation for wanting to attend school.

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

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Yesterday we had a midterm exam and today my class put on a "tea party" for other students, chefs and guests - I took the opportunity to take an informal poll of opinions on this subject we have been hashing out - the general consensus is that there can be a zillion reasons as to why one person would want to go to cooking school, none of them any less valid than the other one - No one seemed to think that it was necessary or even a consideration to separate one from the others or have different courses - the easier or part time classes will always be available to those that want to take them, but for those that are more serious - go for it!

As for the question asking in class either by real-age or mature students or dilettantes or hobbyists - lets remember one thing, there is no such thing as a stupid question... There always gong to be one in every batch who asks countless questions, they are not always the ones you expect...

Oh, and I got a 90 on my midterm, the highest grade in the class of 12 chefs-to-be who are currently staging at various venues around London :wink:

www.nutropical.com

~Borojo~

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Were I single, and 16, and able to live again, I might have bagged Berkeley and apprenticed the years in France.  But FCI will provide an opportunity to do something workable at this stage of life which I would not otherwise have. 

Although I would not have traded Vassar for CIA at that age, I see what you mean... You will really enjoy FCI and I'm sure it will also bring back loads of memories!

www.nutropical.com

~Borojo~

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Everyone begins at cooking school as an amateur. In fact, many students who may have already worked in a professional kitchen are often told they have to re-learn certain techniques. As for the more advanced classes, there are usually pre-requisites for acceptance. For instance, I couldn't take my chocolate course until I passed two years of pastry and baking.

Here in Quebec, professional cooking is a course that offers a high school diploma with a specialization in cooking. The cooking schools are free as are all tech voc courses such as hairdressing, mechanics, and wood working. The majority of the chefs who cook in the province went through that same -- free -- system. They don't even pay for their equipment -- including knives (though most students soon purchase their own). There are people from all socio-economic backgrounds in these courses. That includes ex-cons, immigrants who don’t speak any of this province’s two official languages, as well as recipients of welfare and unemployment insurance. Students range in age from 16 to 60+. Everyone is on the same footing, and everyone is taught the same basic program. They all must complete an exam at the end of each module (garde manger, pastry, breakfast, sauces, meat, fish etc) to be awarded a diploma.

The basic cooking program is called "Institutional Cooking." These classes are geared to students who will end up working in hospitals and cafeterias. It's basic stuff and the ingredients used can be very low-end. But everyone must begin there. I can't imagine why anyone who would not want to be a professional cook could stand these classes, mainly because they are very time consuming.

Once this step is completed, students can opt for specialized classes like Nouvelle Cuisine, Pastry for Restaurants, Catering, etc. Sure, many students drop out. BUT few and far between are the students who enroll in these classes who simply wanted to learn to cook. There might have been catering aspirations hidden in there somewhere and a lot of curiosity, but rarely a hobby-like interest (I consider anything you do outside your line of work a hobby). More often you run into kids who go into cooking classes who just aren’t sure what they want to do.

If I could put my opinion in a very simple way, I'd say classes meant for professional chefs teach you how to work, how to produce large quantities of food. It’s only in the specialized courses that things get interesting. On the other hand, classes for amateurs usually get right to the heart of the matter -- teaching you how to cook. More power to you if you want to spend on classes at an elite school. My complaint is with schools that charge high prices for students who want to cook for a living. The entry fees are very high, and starting salaries are usually very low, which makes student loans almost impossible to repay.

I want to make it very clear that I never chastised anyone for choosing cooking as a second career. I’ve have taught many students who have been to university or who have had already worked in another field (or both) and I admire the fact that they are following their dream. I've also always been a firm believer that a good cook will never be out of a job.

The topic of this thread is “are professional schools for amateurs as well.” I still say no. If you want to learn cooking as a hobby, not as a job you intend to be paid for, you should attend a private cooking school, and by all means an expensive one if that is your will. That course should be as thorough and detailed as you wish. Students should be treated with respect and a firm hand, but I see no need for exams and stages at the end of such a course.

If you intend to work as a professional chef, I think you should enter a vocational program, which doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, designed for professional chefs. There should be rigorous exams at the end of each module and recognized certification at the end of the course.

If a student intends to follow a professional cooking class for strictly personal reasons, that is certainly an option. BUT I think their time would be better spent in a more focused program that didn’t include 30 hours of kitchen management, 20 hours of accounting, 20 hours of menu writing, 10 hours of hygiene, and 10 hours on tools and equipment.

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If a student intends to follow a professional cooking class for strictly personal reasons, that is certainly an option. BUT I think their time would be better spent in a more focused program that didn’t include 30 hours of kitchen management, 20 hours of accounting, 20 hours of menu writing, 10 hours of hygiene, and 10 hours on tools and equipment.

Lesley, I have done the 10 hours of hygiene and I have done more than 10 hours of tools and equipment - I am really looking forward to the accounting and the menu writing portions, as well as the Master Chef Buffet and Banqueting course -

And you know what? If I lived in Australia, I would have taken the full masters program....

I still disagree with you, and I am so happy that the schools of the world disagree with your plan also....

www.nutropical.com

~Borojo~

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"If you intend to work as a professional chef, I think you should enter a vocational program, which doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, designed for professional chefs. There should be rigorous exams at the end of each module and recognized certification at the end of the course."

Leslie,

It's great that there are no cost or low cost programs for people who want to work as professional chefs. And by all means, people should enrol in these programs, if that is where they think their best opportunity is, all things considered.

Fat Guy first made the analogy to lawyers, and while it is not perfect, there are some useful points of comparison. In Canada, the United States and doubtless many other places, people who want to study law (for whatever reason) have many choices--some cheap, and some very expensive. Even people with extremely modest means may choose to go the very expensive route, and again, for many reasons--the prospect of a better education, the desire to associate with the very best, and/or the hope that the right credential will pay off in terms of career and salary. I think that all of these considerations apply equally to would-be chefs.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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If I remember right, Julia Child was one of those "housewives" who attended Le Cordon Bleu. I guess she should of not gone and given that spot to someone else. :biggrin:

Edited by mtdew (log)
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If I remember right, Julia Childs was one of those "housewives" who attended Le Cordon Bleu.  I guess she should of not gone and given that spot to someone else.  :biggrin:

Yes. You remember correctly.

If I remember correctly, she was also the only woman in her class.

In my class, I am one of two. Both of us amateurs, and neither of us with professional chef aspirations.

Noise is music. All else is food.

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If I remember right, Julia Childs was one of those "housewives" who attended Le Cordon Bleu. I guess she should of not gone and given that spot to someone else.

Yes, but Julia Child never worked as a professional chef. In fact, that is her forte, that is what made her JULIA CHILD.

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Seems to me there's a difference between hobbyists and those in related professions. In law school we had plenty of accountants and MBA types, we had one doctor, and we had people whose intentions were to become law professors. Those types are similar to the food writers, aspiring instructors, and related types who attend cooking schools.

I'm not the slightest bit wedded to ascertaining people's motivations and segregating them on that basis. What I object to is that the professional schools in many disciplines are happy to take anybody, no questions asked, who is willing to pay and meets certain basic criteria. I think they should be issuing stern warnings to hobbyists: this is no joke, you'll probably be happier in a non-vocational program, etc. If they still want to do it after being strongly discouraged, and they can do the work and function as part of the unit, that's fine with me -- masochism is an inalienable individual right as far as I'm concerned. But again my experience in law school was that if you made a list of the ten most annoying people in the class, the hobbyists dominated the list.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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And the 10 most annoying lawyers I have dealt with are ones who were professionals in a different field and turned to law because they were disgruntled (myself excluded, of course, because I went straight to law school after getting my Ph.D.!).

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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But again my experience in law school was that if you made a list of the ten most annoying people in the class, the hobbyists dominated the list.

For the short time I attended law school, we played "gunner bingo." :laugh:

Annoying? Well, big whippy skippy. I'm a very accepting individual that respects the person seated next to me as having every right to be in the same class. My experience in education is also learning from your peers as well as the instructors/professors (pick your terminology). I enjoy the diversity of one who knows nothing as well as one that knows it all.

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If I remember right, Julia Childs was one of those "housewives" who attended Le Cordon Bleu. I guess she should of not gone and given that spot to someone else.

Yes, but Julia Child never worked as a professional chef. In fact, that is her forte, that is what made her JULIA CHILD.

Well I guess there's a point for the amateurs.

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Don't rich young housewives who will be managing a staff of servants need to know more than just "how to cook"? I thought that was the traditional reason they attended a quality cooking school

If culinary education were compartmentalized into strict vocational (skillset) tracks, I could see some of Leslie's points (but not others), but the type of well-rounded education a person gets in a typical degree program at cooking school means that it attracts not only potential hands-on cooks, but food and travel writers, would-be restaurant owners and managers, people with a love of food who want to get their feet wet in the business, and dilettantes of both sexes.

Just as many people go back to college later in life, intending to get more education, but without a clear idea of where it will lead them.

Schools encourage this, on the theory that it is good for you to learn a variety of things along your path.

Sociological issues aside.

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If they still want to do it after being strongly discouraged....

I fail to understand why a for-profit organisation should go to such lengths to discourage people who have both the qualifications and the means to attend their classes. I am afraid that the argument that the "hobbyists" annoy the other, "serious" students, simply does not hold as a general premise. Certainly not in my experience. The most annoying guy in my law classes is now a respected high court judge! And one of the class favourites is now a journalist.

It seems to me that this has something to do with the (subconscious) desire to protect the high piesthood of professional chefs. To become one, you have to suffer, you have to pass through some sort of ritual (reminds me of the circumcision ceremonies the traditional Xhosa men in my country have to endure before being accepted into the tribe as a man). I find it all rather amusing.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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Once a school accepts a student into a program, it has a vested interest in seeing that student graduate. The time to be selective is pre-admission.

Hmm... I'm coming late to this discussion, but I would not say that is strictly true. Some schools (I am thinking of top music schools in particular) are structured so that people without the proper motivation and/or talent are encouraged to drop the program or switch to a related course of study. Of course, many conservatories are affiliated with colleges or universities and they would often like for such students to pursue their interests there, but that does not change the fact that some conservatories have a fairly low graduation rate.

To make an example from my own experience, I went to my undergrduate school specifically so I could do a double degree program (went 5 years, graduated with a BM in voice performance and a BA in psychology). When I was a freshman, there were around 30 of us in the double degree program. When I graduated, there were 4 of us left who went double degree all the way to completion. I would estimate that the rate of graduation in the conservatory was around 30% to 40%, and the percentage of freshman performance majors who graduated with performance degrees was even less. I was given to understand that these percentages were not all that unusual.

Since a music school is essentially a vocational school (as distinct from a liberal arts school) it seems fairly directly comparable to a professional cooking school. This is to say that the main thrust of these schools is to prepare students to make a living as professional musicians (insofar as this is possible in today's arts economy) or professional cooks. Music schools do not typically accept amateurs or people who are not interested in pursuing a professional life in music into their regular curriculum, and I don't see why cooking schools would either. Most music schools have a "continuing education" division for that kind of thing, and I don't see any reason why a cooking school wouldn't as well.

--

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I fail to understand why a for-profit organisation should go to such lengths to discourage people who have both the qualifications and the means to attend their classes.

This presupposes that professional aspirations are not a qualification.

To test the theory, imagine a CIA class made up entirely of hobbyists. Three-quarters hobbyists. Half. One-quarter. One-eighth. At what point does the ratio become acceptable? At what point does it stop being a professional program? Sure, a class can sustain a small percentage of hobbyists without interfering substantially with the educational mission -- with the quality of the product being sold by the for-profit organization. But there's a limit, and as a paying student with professional aspirations I would consider my own investment to be devalued by the presence of a large contingent of hobbyists.

It seems to me that this has something to do with the (subconscious) desire to protect the high piesthood of professional chefs.

Not at all. It's mostly a blue-collar profession. Protecting the high priesthood of chefs is like protecting the high priesthood of bricklayers.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The difference, FG, between bricklayers and chefs is that very few bricklayers, I would think, regard their blue collar profession as a calling deserving special protection, whereas an appreciable number of chefs seem to.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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Once a school accepts a student into a program, it has a vested interest in seeing that student graduate. The time to be selective is pre-admission.

Hmm... I'm coming late to this discussion, but I would not say that is strictly true.

Not strictly true, but it is both a trend in education and, I believe, specifically true of culinary schools. I'm sure we could make a simple factual determination, though, by looking at some educational sites and seeing how many people matriculate and graduate at the culinary schools. I'll check the CIA site. You look somewhere else.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The difference, FG, between bricklayers and chefs is that very few bricklayers, I would think, regard their blue collar profession as a calling deserving special protection, whereas an appreciable number of chefs seem to.

So what does the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers do?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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