Best Culinary School in Paris?

Discussion in 'Choosing A Culinary School' started by tuchop, Jun 26, 2019.

  1. tuchop

    tuchop

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    Hello everyone, I've been struggling to decide which culinary school in Paris is the best.
    I see there's mixed feelings with Le Cordon Bleu, some people say its the best and others say its only famous but not that good in reality. I also read a lot of great things about Ferrandi, Lenotre, etc.
    I'll be using my life long savings so I'd like to make the best decision here and join a school that will give me the best preparation/teachings for my future.
    Thanks for your time!
     
  2. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    Hi and welcome to CT.

    Do you have any experience working in a commercial kitchen?
     
  3. tuchop

    tuchop

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    Hi! Thanks for the answer.
    I have zero experience in a commercial/professional kitchen and I know most here will suggest to first get an experience there before going to culinary school. This is not an option for me right now. I might work next year for a few months in one, before going to Paris.
    Both LCB and Ferrandi offer internships in their programs, so I guess there's some experience there.
    My main concern is which school would be the best choice. I know LCB is more recognized worldwide by people (even not related to the industry), but maybe now a days chefs prefer graduates from Ferrandi (or any other)?
     
  4. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    Any culinary school will teach you what you need to know in order to function in a commercial kitchen. Given their locations, some schools offer more focus on specific cooking methods and techniques while others provide a more rounded curriculum.

    However, your real education will not begin until you start working in busy kitchen.

    Having said this, I cannot overstate the importance of experiencing what working in a commercial kitchen is like. You are correct. Most of the pros in this forum, including myself, will strongly encourage you to work in a commercial kitchen before culinary school for a variety of reason. The main reason is so you can distinguish the vast difference that exists between cooking for friends and family and what it is like to cook commercially. To be blunt, everything that you may know about how to cook means precisely zero in a commercial kitchen.

    Before I get too far into this response, understand that I am not trying to discourage you from a career in the food industry. Instead, my intent is to give you some measure of understanding of what this life is truly like. To call this life "hard" would be a gross understatement. The average career in the food industry lasts about 18 months. There are few of us who can say that we "retired" from the food industry with any sort of meaningful retirement benefits. Those are very long odds upon which to gamble your life's savings.

    So, here's the onion.

    60 to 80 hours weeks are common. You will have no time for friends, family, marriage, children or any sort of social life. You will be working on weekends and holidays as they are the busiest times in the restaurant business. The pay is terrible with or without a culinary degree. Unless you land a job at a hotel or resort, you will not see any benefits until you reach kitchen management, which is a 5 to 10 year track. Most chefs that I know have lived in multiple countries or US States. The stress is incredibly high which means this industry has one of the highest drug and alcohol abuse rates of any industry.

    Then, there is the fact that unless your plan is to work in fine dining, a resort or hotel, many chefs and owners with whom you will be interviewing probably won't place that much value on a C.A. degree. Your C.A. degree may get you an interview in lieu of actual commercial experience, but, it is not a guarantee by any means that you will be hired. What most owners and executive chefs care about are attitude, aptitude, work ethic, knowledge and willingness to learn.

    So, if you considering an investment of your life's saving in culinary school, you would be doing yourself an incredible disservice by not getting a job in a restaurant kitchen before making the personal and financial commitment to culinary school. If that is not possible now, I would highly recommend doing so when it is possible.

    Lastly, as a matter of practicality, if you are thinking about attending culinary school in France, knowing the language is a must, if you don't speak French already. Some schools in France only teach in French. Some teach in French and English. Some may even require a French language literacy test prior to admission.

    Knowing French will also be necessary to handle your daily affairs of living from going to the market to renting a flat and paying bills etc.

    Good luck! :)
     
  5. tuchop

    tuchop

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    Thanks once again, sgsvirgil. I know a few people (close to my family) from the industry so I can agree and understand everything you mention about this hard way of life. I also understand the importance of working before studying and as I mentioned before my plan is to have a brief experience before leaving.
    But I'm decided to study in Paris, my fiancee is also going to this city to do an MBA next year, so my time is limited.
    I really appreciate the feedback about having the experience beforehand but my question really is which culinary school is best. Which school will have the stronger name in the industry?
    thanks once again!
     
  6. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Hi tuchop....

    Actually, if you do research on the culinary side of things you’ll notice that French chefs don’t go to culinary school. The French, German, Swiss,Dutch, Belgian, etc all do apprenticeships, usually three years, but never a “culinary school”. If you research the Cordon Bleu you’ll see it was initially started for poor little rich girls that needed to learn how cook for home entertaining, but not for professionals.

    The concept of culinary school, where a student enters with no experience and graduates with knowledge but practically no experience, is a N.American concept, and it is a concept that has waaaaay too many faults and problems. Like I said, the Europeans figured out about 300 years ago that apprenticeships for the trades are pretty much ideal— the N. Americans still refuse to acknowledge this....

    So before you spend any money on a culinary school, YOU NEED to work in the industry for at least 6 mths. There are no guarantees that you will like the hours, the physical and mental stress, and more importantly, the wages of working in the kitchen. Graduating from culinary school will have NO EFFECT on these issues.

    Then again if your goal is not to work in a commercial kitchen and you just need to pass the time while your partner gets their degree, then go for it!

    Oh, b.t.w., do you speak French?
     
  7. halb

    halb

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    Are you American or living in the US? Just wondering.
     
  8. tuchop

    tuchop

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    Hi foodpump, thanks for the answer! First, I speak a little french and I'm currently taking classes every week, so that won't be a problem. Its most likely I'll work at a kitchen next year before I leave.
    I see a lot of people suggesting culinary school is a waste of money in this website (Although my account is new, I've long been a lurker here). It might have been the case some years ago, but now a days I see more and more TOP chefs with culinary school diplomas.
    Just to mention a few, the 50 best restaurant list was out a few days ago. From the first 10 best restaurants, most of them went to a Culinary School. These may or may be not the best restaurants in the world in this specific order but we can all agree each one of them is a TOP chef. Mauro Colagreco, Gaggang Anand, Victor Arginzoniz, Rasmus Kofoed, Adoni Luis Aduriz, Virgilio Martinez, Mitsuharu Tsumura, Gaston Acurio, etc.

    halb, I actually live in Argentina but I hold Italian Citizenship.
     
  9. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Ummm.... like I said most professionals in Europe did apprenticeships, not culinary school. Big difference between Europe and N.America is that cooks in Europe can and do earn a living wage.

    My suggestions to you were not really in your best interest.... Let me explain...

    See, I was an employer for over 20 years, now I work for others. My sympathies are for the employers, not the cooks. It takes a lot out of someone to explain to a culinary graduate with 1-2 mths of school work experience (not actual work experience where an employer pays you and can fire you if you can’t keep up) that they will only earn minimum wage or close to it for the first few years. It takes a lot out of a Chef who has to explain things they don’t teach in school- like how to work efficiently, how to roll a cart up a ramp without everything sliding off, that yes, after a 10 hr shift you will be required to work on site at a catering gig for another 5 hrs and still be expected to work at 8 am next morning.

    Like I said, my feelings are for the employers, and the thought of someone graduating from culinary school with no prior practical kitchen work experience ( and a 40-60 grand student loan....) being let loose on an employer sends shivers down my spine.

    So the thing is, if your goal in the next 5 years is to work in a high end kitchen, then get a job in a regular kitchen first, then go to school.
    If your goal is to have a culinary school diploma hanging on your wall, and earning $60,000 in a totally unrelated field, then do the culinary school experience. But you won’t be earning even $30,00 with just a culinary diploma and no experience to back you up.

    It’s not my intention to sound like a sphincter muscle, but I deal with situations I just described every week, and I’d hate if another employer would have to deal with a similar situation that I might be partially responsible for....
     
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  10. tuchop

    tuchop

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    I understand the suggestion of doing first a kitchen job and then culinary school because one might not like/enjoy/stand the hard work involved in a real professional kitchen afterwards. That makes a lot of sense and is the main reason for which I'll work in a kitchen for a few months before I leave to Paris.
    Now, I'm sorry to disagree. Having empathy with an employer because he might recruit someone from culinary school with no work experience makes zero sense. You're suggesting people should work before studying, when they get that first job they'll not only have zero work experience but also very little knowledge since they haven't even been to CS (culinary school). Now, in regards of experience in a real kitchen from CS graduates, the schools I was asking about prepare (or try) their students in realistic kitchen situations. They teach you about pressure, perfection, in line, team work, etc. They also demand you to do a Stage (internship) for about 6 months in a real restaurant. So any graduate from those schools will have some experience, will know at least a tiny bit about what's it like working in a kitchen and will know how tough this industry is (or at least a taste of it).

    Now, back to my main question. Did anyone here attend any of these schools or know someone who did and can recommend which one is better?
    Thanks!
     
  11. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    I agree with the bulk of what @foodpump has said here. However, I have to disagree about how a C.A. degree in the US is emphasized.

    The only employers in the US who may require a C.A. degree are hotels, resorts and the occasional fine dining establishment. For the most part, food industry employers here in the US tend to emphasize skill, attitude, aptitude and work ethic above a C.A. degree. In fact, I believe a thread was created in the forum not too long ago that asked that very question: experience or a C.A. degree?

    As an employer (former), I could not care less if an applicant had a C.A. degree. What I cared about was their attitude, aptitude, work ethic and experience, in that order. The reason I put experience last is if they have the first three qualities, experience is inevitable.

    Anyway, all that is fodder for a discussion in another thread. Like I said, I agree with 99% of the advice that has been given here, for whatever that's worth.

    Cheers! :)
     
  12. halb

    halb

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    In all due respect, for someone who has zero experience in the industry you sure have a lot of opinions and assumptions. Where are you getting all this information from? The internet?

    The reason I asked if you were from the US is because this is frequently how American kids think. Go to college, graduate with a huge debt and wind up not being able to even support themselves. But at least here, it's society that pushes them into it by making them think that they are worthless without a college education.

    But you are not from here.

    It would be one thing, I suppose, if your "education" were paid for either by scholarship or family with deep pockets. But using your life savings to pay for what really is a fantasy that has little to no chance of paying back even what it cost you is a really, really bad choice.
     
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  13. tuchop

    tuchop

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    Firstly, If I didn't have the money I would not get a huge debt and probably start the other way around: work at a kitchen, save something, study, work again. But I have the opportunity/chance of paying it without getting a debt. I don't care about money at the moment, I don't mind if the salary is really bad and won't pay for culinary school. I'm not here to become a millionaire entrepreneur. In fact, I'm finishing my Business Administration University studies with quite a few years of work experience. My passion lies in a kitchen and I couldn't care less about a salary. In Europe the minimum wage guarantees being able to pay rent, food, transport and save a little bit; especially if one's living with someone else (which is my case). That's more than enough if I'm doing what I really like.
    I talk with zero experience but as I mentioned before, I know people from the industry and have talked about their experience countless times. Also, I gave facts about some of the very best chefs in the world which all had culinary school beginnings.

    ALSO this thread was started with the purpose of helping me choose a culinary school in Paris, that's all I asked. However, I value and appreciate the opinions and suggestions about working before schooling (which I'll most likely do) and I'm thankful for the feedback given.
     
  14. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    I did not and do not and so therefore can not.

    On this
    I can offer my experience. I had real world restaurant kitchen experience before I went to culinary school. The pressure, perfection, in line, team work, etc that you get to experience in school bears almost no resemblance to what is experienced in real world kitchens. It is hard to explain, but that is my take on that aspect of culinary school. At the time I went to culinary school, there were two that I knew of in my country. Part of the reason for the one I chose to attend was because while it offered an extenship, it was not required. You could stay in school and take additional classes instead. I could see no reason to pay school, to work for free in an externship program.
     
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  15. halb

    halb

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    I know graduates of J&W and CIA and none of them stayed in this business more than a couple of years.

    For some strange reason this business has some kind of romantic attraction. Maybe it's the fantasy of cooking and serving a hundred people a night who will rave about my creations. Maybe it's TV like Food Network and the internet where anybody can have their own YouTube cooking show and be a star. Maybe it's reading about famous chefs (and don't believe that any of them got to where they are because of Culinary School). I don't know what it is, but it makes normally sane people spend every last dollar, lose their house, ruin marriages, go into debt up to their eyeballs, lose more money every day and still say "I have to make this work because I love to cook and it's my dream".

    So I guess you aren't alone, but keep in mind that your "associates" have a dismal track record of making a living or even breaking even.

    As for which school, I don't know and I don't think anybody here does either. We are a US based forum. Since you want to go to school and have a career in Europe maybe there is a European forum that can offer more insight.

    Good luck to you!
     
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  16. foodpump

    foodpump

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    *School is like a piggy bank, you can only take out what you put in. If you have no previous experience and the instructor in your French Culinary school tells you to julienne a 1/9 insert of celeriac, the guy with experience will be waaaay ahead of you, get the task done before you’ve organized your equipment and ingredients, and is ready to absorb much more than you can comprehend.

    To sum everything up, to sum everyone’s replies up, is this simple saying:
    “Chance favours the prepared mind”

    Now get yourself prepared, you want to be a Chef? Get into that f*&[email protected] kitchen, work, and stop day dreaming.*
     
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  17. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    You are getting a tiny glimpse in this thread of how people in the culinary world tend to deal with things. People in this industry tend to be direct, blunt at times, no sugar coating and even singular, especially when it comes to the pitfalls and mistakes they and others have made.

    You seem like an intelligent person who has a good head on their shoulders. You should be able to research and choose the culinary school that best suits your vision of what you want out in this business.

    What we are trying to say to you in not so tender sentiments is that choosing a culinary school in any country is purely academic. They will all teach you essentially the same things. We have a saying in America that applies here: "It doesn't matter how pretty the dive as long as you hit the pool." In other words, no matter what school you choose, your real education will not begin until you get your first job in a real kitchen.

    Like I said in my previous post, you will not have time for friends, family, relationships, children or any semblance of a social life. Keep that in mind if the person that you are living with is your romantic interest.

    Anyway, do your due diligence and I am sure you will choose the school that is right for you. Incidentally, there are some very good schools in Italy, too.

    Good luck. :)
     
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