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Lisa J

ESCF Ferrandi culinary school

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Salut to everyone in the France Forum. Long time reader, infrequent poster to eGullet, I am currently enrolled as a culinary student at le Ferrandi in Paris. Officially known as Ecole Superieure de Cuisine Francaise - Ferrandi. Bux suggested I post about my experience as a student there.

A quick summary. Le Ferrandi is a French Ecole, operated by the Paris Chamber of Commerce. The school itself is quite large and along with the culinary programs there are programs in patisserie, boulangerie, catering and hotel management. There are hundreds of French students attending the school and most of them are in their late teens or early twenties. They pay nominal fees, since like most education in France it is almost entirely subsidized by the government.

In addition to the French programs there are a number of international programs. I am in a program that is designed for “english speakers.” There are a total of 20 of us, and we are divided into two groups of ten. Some classes are conducted in English, most in a combination of English and French. However in other situations, for example when we are working for the school restaurant, everything is in French. Some of the chefs speak English and the students in our group are meant to be learning French, if we don’t already speak it.

Our program is almost identical to what the French culinary students are learning in the first year of their studies (after the first year, a small group of the best students are invited to attend a second year). The program is 1200 hours of classical french cuisine and includes sessions on regional variations, patisserie, boulangerie, charcuterie, and french language and culture.

Our weeks generally alternate between pegagogie and production. My French dictionary defines pegagogie as “educational methods.” In pedagogie we tend to work individudally on a specific menu for that day. For example, two weeks ago we spent an entire week on various preparations for rack of lamb. The chef is there to give guidance and instruction, but each student has to prepare the dish alone and present the finished product for evaluation at the end of the session.

During production weeks we work the lunch service (occasional dinners) for one of the schools public restaurants. For production we are paired up with one of the groups of French culinary students. Individuals are assigned to stations, garde-manger, viandes, etc. and we work with the French group as a team for service.

We have one day of patisserie every week and every other Friday we prepare a special regional menu for ourselves. Last Friday the region was Savoie-Dauphine and there was a very hearty tripe en cocette on the menu.

Interesting side note: I read somewhere during my research into culinary schools that the French Culinary Institute in NYC is modeled after le Ferrandi.

We started in September and we finish in June, so I am about half-way through the year now. I will do my best to post regularly on what we are doing.

a bientot,

Lisa

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If I'm not mistaken there is, or was, some connection between the FCI in NYC and le Ferrandi in Paris. Le name "le Ferrandi" was associated with the FCI, although it may only have been the name of it's restaurant which is currently called l'Ecole. I seem to recall a decision being made by someone that "Ferrandi" sounded too Italian to New Yorkers.

Lisa posted this some time ago.

My understanding is that Dorothy Cann Hamilton was negotiating with French government officials (the school is organized under the Paris Chamber of Commerce)  to open a branch of Le Ferrandi in NYC, but then the plans fell apart.  She did go on to open FCI and modeled it on Le Ferrandi.  However, the program at FCI is much more compressed.
That may be the full explanation.

I find it very interesting and encouraging that the school includes regional cooking in its studies. I hope we can hear more about the program and about your experiences in Paris. Where do the non French speaking students come from and does it seem as if they are intent on becoming professional career cooks or plan on some other culinary arts related career. I assume a one year program would pretty much rule out hobbyists, but maybe not.

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The non-French students come from all over the world. This year there are students from, Canada, Ecuador,Indonesia, Israel, Japan, the UK, the US (including Puerto Rico), and Venezuela. Just to clarify, within the group, the level of French competency varies from complete beginners to those who are fluent French speakers. Everyone speaks English, but for a significant portion of the group, Spanish is their first language.

I can't speak for the career goals of everyone in the program, but I think generally everyone has plans for some kind of career in a food-related industry, if not specifically in a restuarant kitchen. It is a significant investment in time and money for just a hobby. The school is particulary focused on preparing you to work in a professional kitchen, so I do not think it would be a good choice for a hobbiest.

The coverage of regional French cooking has been one of the highlights of the course. Our last regional menu was from the Savoie Dauphine and included:

an aperitif of liquer de chataignes in white wine.

Tarti Flette

Ravioles des Royans au Bouillon de Poule

Viennoise D'Omble Chevalier a la Moelle et Farcement Savoyard

Sorbet au Genepi

Gras Double a la Dauphinoise

Gateau de Savoie au Noix avec sauce Cafe Grille.

A very unusual menu for me and interesting to prepare and eat.

lisa

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Salut Lisa, welcome to eGullet and a belated bienvenue to Paris. I'm going to the Herve This seminar at Ferrandi this month - hopefully I can catch you in action. Bonne courage.

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Hi Lisa,

Very interesting. Is Le Ferrandi open to the public for meals like some of the cullinary schools in the US?

Please keep up the posts.

dave

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Dave,

There is a working restaurant where the public can dine. I understand that you need to book at least 2-3 months in advance, although sometimes you can get in last minute if there is a cancellation. I think this is because although students are in the kitchen (and waiting the tables), the menus are interesting and generous and the prices are quite reasonable. Some of the students who are at the school have many years of cooking experience, since in the French tradition of apprenticeship, many started cooking in professional kitchens in their mid-teens.

The menu for lunch is prix fixe between 25-35 Euros (not including wine). Dinner is slightly more.

My team is working for the restaurant this week. Our part of the menu tomorrow includes:

an amuse bouche of Roulade de saumon au tourteau

entree: Salade Jurassienne

plat: Dragee de Pigeonneaux a l'hydromel

I will let you know how it turns out.

Lisa

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Lisa,

Sorry to take so long to get back to oyu but we have been traveling the last weeek.

Ourselves and another couple try to eat our way through Paris each Fall; so far we haven't been able to get ouot of the 6th. This Fall I thnk we will try to get a lunch reservation before leaving the US.

How did your time in the restaurant come out?

Thanks for the info,

Dave

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Unfortunately, I don't have the number, but I can get it for you. We are on vacation for the next two weeks, so the school and the restaurant are closed. I may not be able to get the number until we return on 1 March, but I will post it then.

The week in the restaurant was good, a little hectic at times. Last week in pedagogie we focused on les abat: calf brains, veal cheeks, beef tongue, ox tail, and a few other parts not so commonly eaten in the States. I will start another thread on that experience.

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Hey Lisa, you're on vacation - relax. Here's the link to the Ferrandi restaurants page - it does claim that they're only open to people with an teaching relationship with the school but maybe that's just the official line.

And yes, would love to hear more about your abat work.

Bonnes vacances.


Edited by loufood (log)

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Salut a tout le monde,

I know Ferrandi does an exchange with students at I.T.H.Q in montreal every year,they actually came last November Right about the same time Herve This did

his semenar

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did you attend Herve This' seminar ?

If yes, how was it ?

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It was very interesting but also hard to convince people his vision of cooking

and techniques

You had to be there It's hard to explane.

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hi,

i would like to know how is the escf Ferrandi culinary school like in comparison to LCB , Ritz , Lenotre..

i know duration for the bilingual program for cuisine(ferrandi) is 9 months as stated on the website..

Can anybody provide how are the instructors r like for ferrandi and how many students they have in one class?

Is it easy to get a stage at michelin starred restaurants after doin the diploma?

and how does the CAP elective benefit students in their future career.

How is the comparison like between Ferrandi and LCB.. i heard alot of bad stuff abt lcb paris..

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Welcome Lucil.

We have a bunch of compendia in the pinned area above you may want to check since the one on Cooking Schools is quite extensive.

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Welcome Lucil.

We have a bunch of compendia in the pinned area above you may want to check since the one on Cooking Schools is quite extensive.

thx for the links.. i have read most of the topics.. but cant seem to find the answers for my questions..

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Lucil,

I know two people who attended this school, one French and one American. The American now owns a restaurant in Paris and I will certainly see if he can answer your questions, although he attended some time ago so it may have changed since. Also, he is in the US now and wont be back until the end of August, so it will take some time. I am out of touch with the other person who attended, but am fairly sure I saw her photo in Regal this month, so it seems to have been a good choice for her.

Hopefully Pitipois will see this thread and can tell us how the school is viewed in Paris. I had the impression that Ferrandi was the school that French culinary students would attend, while the schools you listed were more for foreigners. I could be wrong though.

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I’m a little pressed for time at the moment but can give you a short answer.

I attended ESCF for the 2003/2004 school year following a program of Pastry, Bread Baking and a tiny bit of Cuisine.

In brief, the skill level of the chef-instructors is astonishing. I had Didier Averty for pastry classes and I was just blown away by what that man can do. The same is true of our boulangerie and cuisine chefs. Our pastry class only had cuisine classes once every other week, but the meals we turned out were at the very TOP level.

Our class started out with a translator, but that ended in December so you really need to be more or less proficient in French by then. Some of our class members who didn’t speak French at all (only one) were really hurting, but frankly, if you’re going to stage anywhere good you should be functional in French. Or course, if you’re fluent, it really helps a lot!

Our translator, Stephanie Curtis, told me that Ferrandi is where the French send their kids to learn pastry and cuisine. And anytime we went on a field trip and someone asked where we were from, people were always impressed. “Oh la la! Ferrandi! C’est formidable.”

I may be able to put you in touch with one of the cuisine students if you like. PM me.

What else… On a day to day level, the histrionics can be a bit much at times, especially for an American who isn’t used to this, but just take it with a grain of salt. Like one of my classmates used to say: “Hey, it’s just dessert. Get over it.” :rolleyes:

If there was a down side, I would have to say that the student cafeteria was just some of the most horrible food I’ve ever eaten. The cafeteria food was outsourced to a private company since, as it was explained to me, the students at Ferrandi couldn’t be expected to handle all of the food prep and service for so many on a day to day basis. It seems clear that the lowest bidder got the contract. But I digress…

Here’s the important part: ESCF Ferrandi can be just what you make of it. While there, you will have access to some of the most talented people in the world of French cuisine and pastry. Want to do extra classes on the side? You probably can. Want to do a stage in some of the most famous kitchens in Paris e.g. Plaza Athenee, Hotel de Crillon, George V? Work hard, do well, and you can. Do not underestimate their connections.

BUT YOU HAVE TO BE PROACTIVE. Don’t just assume it’s going to happen. If someone tells you they are going to “make a call” you might just have to go and sit on their desk until it’s done…

Do not kid yourself, it’ll be hard work but, like I said, you’ll get out of it just what you put in.

Oh no… now I’m getting all nostalgic for Paris! Paris me manque!

Bon chance!

John DePaula

DePaula Confections

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Hopefully Pitipois will see this thread and can tell us how the school is viewed in Paris.  I had the impression that Ferrandi was the school that French culinary students would attend, while the schools you listed were more for foreigners.  I could be wrong though.

No, I believe you're quite right. The école Ferrandi is highly praised and has a very good reputation. That is the one French culinary students would attend, and definitely the one I would attend if I had the time and the money.

Last year I worked with two of Pierre Hermé's pâtissiers who regularly taught classes at Ferrandi and I could see that the level of teaching was very high in this case, but it is supposed to be very high in general.

I think the other schools are for foreigners and rich amateurs. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but the professional level is not the same.

John dePaulas' post is interesting. I didn't know about the bad school cafeteria. That reminds me of the employee's cafeteria at Alain Ducasse's 59 avenue Poincaré, at least years ago. Utterly apalling, an ugly dark basement, while so many delicacies were made nearby in luxury settings. It's shocking to the point of immorality.

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Thankfully, 59 avenue Poincaré is now closed; beautiful building, though.

You can get exellent schooling at many schools in Paris, it's up to you to demand from your instructors their best, you are paying.

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No, I believe you're quite right. The école Ferrandi is highly praised and has a very good reputation. That is the one French culinary students would attend, and definitely the one I would attend if I had the time and the money.

I'm told by an American student currently at this school that it is in turmoil. The French-English teacher was dismissed, the school wouldn't hire another one, and it has also announced that henceforth all tests and classes will be exclusively in French. Were it later in the year, it might be less of a problem for the foreign students.

Last week there were protests and meetings going on. That's the last I heard. I'm expecting an update today. Maybe it's all been resolved. Or maybe we'll be seeing "manifs" in the streets around the school.

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I cannot speak knowledgeably of Ferrandi, but I did attend LCB Paris, finishing in August with a Diplome de Cuisine. This was one of the greater disapointments of my food-service career. The administration is terrible and not interested in improving. The stages were handled hastily and with total disinterest for the needs or goals of the students. Thus nearly everyone broke their contracts. As a result we have a bad reputation in Paris.

There were very few people in my class with any experience. It is filled with career changers and aristocracy who have never operated a mop. It is quickly becoming a tourist cooking school.

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No, I believe you're quite right. The école Ferrandi is highly praised and has a very good reputation. That is the one French culinary students would attend, and definitely the one I would attend if I had the time and the money.

I'm told by an American student currently at this school that it is in turmoil. The French-English teacher was dismissed, the school wouldn't hire another one, and it has also announced that henceforth all tests and classes will be exclusively in French. Were it later in the year, it might be less of a problem for the foreign students.

Last week there were protests and meetings going on. That's the last I heard. I'm expecting an update today. Maybe it's all been resolved. Or maybe we'll be seeing "manifs" in the streets around the school.

Quelle surprise… Not! When I was there in 2003/4 we had some problems as well. But you know, there are a few rules to live by when immersing yourself in a different culture:

1) Learn to cultivate patience. People do things differently than the way to which you may be accustomed. Things may seem disorganized and haphazard. Somehow, they muddle through and still manage to get work done.

2) Don’t let the histrionics disturb you. There can be a lot of hand-waving, yelling and at times, pot throwing. It’s ok… just a more colorful way of expressing an opinion. As I mentioned above, one of my classmates used to say, “Hey, it’s just dessert. Get over it.”

3) Develop a thicker skin. I know that I’m often given to “take it personally” when it’s not intended as such. Just stay calm and don’t view everything as a personal attack.

I don’t know who the current French teacher is (was) but we had someone named Mireille whom we all liked a lot – very cool. I just can’t imagine what could prompt them to fire a French teacher. Mystère et boule de gomme.

I agree, it’s a bit early in the year to drop the French instruction. However, I know that most of the chefs have a fairly good command of English – at least enough to flirt with the girls… (sorry, couldn’t resist a little jab). The French portion of the program was valuable but to me, the most important things were learned “on the job.”

When it comes time for the stage, you will really be so much better off if you’re fluent in French. Better to do your sink-or-swim time early on, I guess.

SO, I guess I’ll just close with this: things aren’t what you expected, or perhaps they’re not even what you were promised – don’t worry. It’s still a very high level of instruction and you can learn so much if you don’t let the snags define your time at Ferrandi.

Bon chance.

P.S. Randy, if you get an update please let us know what’s going on.

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I cannot speak knowledgeably of Ferrandi, but I did attend LCB Paris, ...

What is LCB? Perhaps this is a new topic?

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I cannot speak knowledgeably of Ferrandi, but I did attend LCB Paris, ...

What is LCB? Perhaps this is a new topic?

LCB = Le Cordon Bleu

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