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Le Cordon Bleu vs. Lenotre Ecole Professionelle


lesanglierrouge
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To any that are familiar with Parisian culinary schools, I ask what are your opinions of these two schools, their programs and their graduates. How do their programs in cuisine and pastry compete? If you were a young wannabe coming to Paris to learn to cook or bake which would you choose and why?

I notice Lenotre offers some shorter courses for those already immersed in the workplace. These seem rather appealing.

Thank you

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I have a Diplome de Patisserie from Le Cordon Bleu, 1996. It's where I'd always wanted to go, what I'd always wanted to do. It was a great experience and I wouldn't make a different choice if I were to go now, though it bugs me that they've franchised the program in culinary schools in the U.S. When I got back to the States, I was offered all 6 jobs I applied for, all entry level pastry positions. What I noticed as I worked my way up the pastry ladder was that recent graduates from American pastry programs knew lots more about sanitation and percentage formulas for baking than they knew about how to make pastry cream or creme anglaise. We made the basic pastry recipes over and over again, in different forms, by hand, to learn exactly what they should look like, taste like and feel like. The nine month Diplome course is very thorough. I don't think the Basic Certificate would be enough for a professional career. And the Chefs will arrange for stages for the students who are interested, though it's not a requirement for graduation.

I only know one person who went to Le Notre, but I know that French people consider it the better of the two schools. Here, it's not as well known. I was in A. Simon one day buying tools and a mother with her son asked the guy at the counter which was better. He said Le Notre, definitely. It made me sad, since I was about to graduate! But my friend who went there knew more about quantity baking than I did, from going to Le Notre. We were taught to make one beautiful thing at a time, something one rarely does in real life pastry! But we were taught well, I think, even with ten years experience behind me now. I still refer to my notebooks from school when I want a basic classic recipe.

One thing I think is important is that, no matter where one goes to culinary school, the attitude you bring with you is far more important than where you go. The Chefs at Le Cordon Bleu treated the serious students much differently than the Japanese women who showed up in Chanel who wanted to use the school on their matrimonial resumes, or the rich American kids whose parents sent them to culinary school as a last resort. Those who worked hard were pushed harder. Those who didn't were given much more leeway.

I didn't take Cuisine, only Pastry, but I sat in on two Cuisine courses a term, and had friends in Cuisine. The courses were just as thorough and the Chefs were very talented and patient. Those who were going into the profession got good job offers at the end of school. I haven't kept in touch with them since then and don't know how they're doing now, but they got off to good starts. There are also mini courses offered during and between the semesters, like tours of the market that's right around the corner from school (Convention), and a long wine course I couldn't afford! I took the Boulangerie class between semesters, and it was great. I learned a lot and met people from all over the world.

I hope I've helped you some! I know my Diplome has gotten my foot in the door of places I wouldn't have gone otherwise, and kept me in the doors I wanted to be in. I know my education is far better than any American school I could have chosen.

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I worked/apprenticed as a cook for four years before I went to Paris to earn the Le Cordon Bleu Diplôme de Cuisine in 1979 - it meant a lot then, got me internships at La Tour d’Argent and Alain Chapel; set me for life.

Le Cordon Bleu Paris is well known worldwide, and carries a lot of cache - and a diplôme will most always get you into a kitchen.

Edited by BigboyDan (log)
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I took classes at Lenotre and they were great, but they were week-long classes and geared towards professionals who already had a pretty good knowledge of what they were doing. They were specialized classes (like confectionary) and were taught only in French, which was intended to weed-out people who weren't professionals. But if you don't speak French, you get much less out of the classes.

You do need to stay out in Plaisir, or take the early train there from Paris to get there. The instructors were mostly MOF's and really nice. Touring their factory, where everything is still made by hand, is also incredible and I hope is still part of the training.

You should check the archives of Food Migration (from Fall of 2006). Cindy just went through the coursework at Le Cordon Bleu and wrote about it extensively on her site & blog.

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I took classes at Lenotre and they were great, but they were week-long classes and geared towards professionals who already had a pretty good knowledge of what they were doing. They were specialized classes (like confectionary) and were taught only in French, which was intended to weed-out people who weren't professionals. But if you don't speak French, you get much less out of the classes.

You do need to stay out in Plaisir, or take the early train there from Paris to get there. The instructors were mostly MOF's and really nice. Touring their factory, where everything is still made by hand, is also incredible and I hope is still part of the training.

You should check the archives of Food Migration (from Fall of 2006). Cindy just went through the coursework at Le Cordon Bleu and wrote about it extensively on her site & blog.

Hi everyone,

I am the Christine being referred to above, and I just graduated from Le Cordon Bleu with a Cuisine Diplome yesterday. I sat in on a pastry demonstration but do not know enough about pastry to give an informed answer.

Basic & Intermediate demonstration classes are taught in French, translated into English, but there is no translation when you are in your practical classes. There is no translation in Superior, but everyone seems to be comfortable enough at that point to understand.

I would recommend the school if you wanted to learn the basic skills in French cooking along with exploring the culinary scene in Paris. As you cannot just skip the Basic course and jump in during Intermediate or Superior, it could be repetitive and boring for those who have some kind of professional cooking background. The school has also become more crowded recently, which means more of a strain on the school in terms of scheduling and space- and it shows.

I loved my experience here but am not sure I would repeat it after seeing the changes that have happened in the last 9 months at the school. And as you probably know, it's very expensive!

Let me know if you have any other questions, be glad to answer them.

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To any that are familiar with Parisian culinary schools, I ask what are your opinions of these two schools, their programs and their graduates. How do their programs in cuisine and pastry compete? If you were a young wannabe coming to Paris to learn to cook or bake which would you choose and why?

I notice Lenotre offers some shorter courses for those already immersed in the workplace. These seem rather appealing.

Thank you

Depends on what the "young wannabe" wants to do after.

I like this part of Maggie's answer the best

One thing I think is important is that, no matter where one goes to culinary school, the attitude you bring with you is far more important than where you go. The Chefs at Le Cordon Bleu treated the serious students much differently than the Japanese women who showed up in Chanel who wanted to use the school on their matrimonial resumes, or the rich American kids whose parents sent them to culinary school as a last resort. Those who worked hard were pushed harder. Those who didn't were given much more leeway.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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I wholeheartedly agree with the first statement. Attitude always makes a difference in any endeavor in life.

However, I will have to say a slightly disagree with the statements regarding the seriousness of the student. Yes, there were many "token" students who were not serious about cooking, who had their tuition paid for by parents, or were there for matrimonial resume reasons. Yes, they were probably treated differently by the chefs.

But there were (and are) serious students who are not really pushed harder by the chefs. Unless you are outgoing and really interact with the chefs, you can be easily ignored and not pushed, no matter how serious you are. In my mind, seriousness does not necessarily mean you are engaging and outgoing, which I feel is important at Le Cordon Bleu to really get any individual attention. It is up to you to tell the chefs that you're serious- they will probably not notice it on their own because they are overworked and deal with too many students.

Another sad but obvious truth is that women are treated differently at the school. Chalk it up to French sexism or whatever you call it, but if you are pretty and young, you will probably get much more "attention" than others. If you come from a PC culture, it's a little hard to swallow and you have more to prove to the chefs when you are a woman.

Like chefzadi said, if you plan to use your culinary education, I think it's important to push yourself, interact with the chefs, and get as much out of the school as possible. If you are there to have fun or don't plan to use it, don't expect to get a lot of individual attention or to be treated very seriously.

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I am staying in Paris until the end of June, giving market tours of the Parisian outdoor markets. Then it's back to the US since my visa expires and the bank account if quickly dwindling!

I am hoping to start a career in food writing and /or food styling. Would appreciate any tips or leads, up for living anywhere but home base will be the San Francisco Bay Area until I find something.

I took classes at Lenotre and they were great, but they were week-long classes and geared towards professionals who already had a pretty good knowledge of what they were doing. They were specialized classes (like confectionary) and were taught only in French, which was intended to weed-out people who weren't professionals. But if you don't speak French, you get much less out of the classes.

You do need to stay out in Plaisir, or take the early train there from Paris to get there. The instructors were mostly MOF's and really nice. Touring their factory, where everything is still made by hand, is also incredible and I hope is still part of the training.

You should check the archives of Food Migration (from Fall of 2006). Cindy just went through the coursework at Le Cordon Bleu and wrote about it extensively on her site & blog.

Hi everyone,

I am the Christine being referred to above, and I just graduated from Le Cordon Bleu with a Cuisine Diplome yesterday. I sat in on a pastry demonstration but do not know enough about pastry to give an informed answer.

Basic & Intermediate demonstration classes are taught in French, translated into English, but there is no translation when you are in your practical classes. There is no translation in Superior, but everyone seems to be comfortable enough at that point to understand.

I would recommend the school if you wanted to learn the basic skills in French cooking along with exploring the culinary scene in Paris. As you cannot just skip the Basic course and jump in during Intermediate or Superior, it could be repetitive and boring for those who have some kind of professional cooking background. The school has also become more crowded recently, which means more of a strain on the school in terms of scheduling and space- and it shows.

I loved my experience here but am not sure I would repeat it after seeing the changes that have happened in the last 9 months at the school. And as you probably know, it's very expensive!

Let me know if you have any other questions, be glad to answer them.

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But there were (and are) serious students who are not really pushed harder by the chefs.  Unless you are outgoing and really interact with the chefs, you can be easily ignored and not pushed, no matter how serious you are. In my mind, seriousness does not necessarily mean you are engaging and outgoing, which I feel is important at Le Cordon Bleu to really get any individual attention.  It is up to you to tell the chefs that you're serious- they will probably not notice it on their own because they are overworked and deal with too many students.

Like chefzadi said, if you plan to use your culinary education, I think it's important to push yourself, interact with the chefs, and get as much out of the school as possible.  If you are there to have fun or don't plan to use it, don't expect to get a lot of individual attention or to be treated very seriously.

Good points, I forget that because I'm not a student, rather on the other end.

How do I know if a student is more "serious"? They tell me and show me. It is true, outgoing, energetic, etc helps a lot.

Congratulations Christine! Now here's a bag of potatoes. :biggrin:

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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But there were (and are) serious students who are not really pushed harder by the chefs.  Unless you are outgoing and really interact with the chefs, you can be easily ignored and not pushed, no matter how serious you are. In my mind, seriousness does not necessarily mean you are engaging and outgoing, which I feel is important at Le Cordon Bleu to really get any individual attention.  It is up to you to tell the chefs that you're serious- they will probably not notice it on their own because they are overworked and deal with too many students.

Like chefzadi said, if you plan to use your culinary education, I think it's important to push yourself, interact with the chefs, and get as much out of the school as possible.  If you are there to have fun or don't plan to use it, don't expect to get a lot of individual attention or to be treated very seriously.

Good points, I forget that because I'm not a student, rather on the other end.

How do I know if a student is more "serious"? They tell me and show me. It is true, outgoing, energetic, etc helps a lot.

Congratulations Christine! Now here's a bag of potatoes. :biggrin:

When I was a student at Lenotre, on the last day of class, my instructor (who knew my French back then was lousy so I wasn't able to understand as much as the other students, but made up for it by being enthusiastic) grabbed my hand and took me on a two-hour tour of the bakery and factory. Just me. It was an amazing experience.

So Chef Zadi are Christine are right-you get what you put into it.

When I was a working chef, I saw some 'unmotivated' interns. One was peeling apples, and complained to me, "This is boring."

I hated to tell her this, but Martha, Wolfgang, and Thomas peeled a lot of apples (or potatoes) to get where they are.

Edited by David Lebovitz (log)
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There is always buzz (grapevine, gossip what have you) about who the best instructors are at a school. Ask your fellow students who the best instructors are, try to get into their classes, become their T.A.s, get yourself known to them some way. Tell the instructor you know about their reputation and you want to learn from them. Enthusiasm plus a little ego stroking goes a long way. :laugh: Some intructors are well connected with working chefs...

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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  • 2 weeks later...
I took classes at Lenotre and they were great, but they were week-long classes and geared towards professionals who already had a pretty good knowledge of what they were doing. They were specialized classes (like confectionary) and were taught only in French, which was intended to weed-out people who weren't professionals. But if you don't speak French, you get much less out of the classes.

You do need to stay out in Plaisir, or take the early train there from Paris to get there. The instructors were mostly MOF's and really nice. Touring their factory, where everything is still made by hand, is also incredible and I hope is still part of the training.

You should check the archives of Food Migration (from Fall of 2006). Cindy just went through the coursework at Le Cordon Bleu and wrote about it extensively on her site & blog.

Hi everyone,

I am the Christine being referred to above, and I just graduated from Le Cordon Bleu with a Cuisine Diplome yesterday. I sat in on a pastry demonstration but do not know enough about pastry to give an informed answer.

Basic & Intermediate demonstration classes are taught in French, translated into English, but there is no translation when you are in your practical classes. There is no translation in Superior, but everyone seems to be comfortable enough at that point to understand.

I would recommend the school if you wanted to learn the basic skills in French cooking along with exploring the culinary scene in Paris. As you cannot just skip the Basic course and jump in during Intermediate or Superior, it could be repetitive and boring for those who have some kind of professional cooking background. The school has also become more crowded recently, which means more of a strain on the school in terms of scheduling and space- and it shows.

I loved my experience here but am not sure I would repeat it after seeing the changes that have happened in the last 9 months at the school. And as you probably know, it's very expensive!

Let me know if you have any other questions, be glad to answer them.

Hi, I wrote a post describing these changes I've seen in the last 9 months at the school on my blog. It might also answer questions for people looking into the Le Cordon Bleu program.

http://chezchristine.typepad.com/chez_chri...ime_for_a_.html

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