Calling all culinary school students and chefs! Biggest complaint?

Discussion in 'General Culinary School Discussions' started by theculinarykid, Oct 20, 2015.

  1. theculinarykid

    theculinarykid

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    What is your biggest complaint as a culinary student, or as a Chef instructor? Shhh..its a safe place..I wont tell your students..

    My biggest complaint is when I had zero help finding a internship. 
     
  2. stevenvhayden

    stevenvhayden

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    my biggest complaint I kept to myself when I was in school were the people in the class. It is amazing how many people called themselves a savory or pastry cook/chef when none of them have ever stepped into a professional kitchen. Even more amazing is how none of them have ever even eaten in an upscale restaurant that was focused on the food. Despite all of that they all still found it their right to carry a chip on their shoulders. Self entitlement is my complaint; if you want to have an ego that's fine to an extent but back it up.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2015
  3. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    As a student, my biggest source of confusion were those students who found it surprising that there were students who did not know how to cook. They would make disparaging comments because someone did not know how to make hollandaise or bone a leg of lamb or make an omelet. They seemed to forget that we were in school to learn how to cook, not show everyone how well we could cook. 
     
  4. foodpump

    foodpump

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    As a Chef who has a lot of contact with C.C.'s and private culinary schools; and as an employer as well, my biggest complaint is course requirements for the student.

    By this I mean many schools will accept anyone who has the money.  About 30% of the students have no idea what a professional kitchen is like to work in, or what typical salary expectations should be.   

    I personally feel that schools should only take on students who have at least 6 mths work experience in a professional kitchen.  Ideally, this work experience should be as a dishwasher or salad/prep person. 

    It really isn't fair for the student to fork out huge sums of money (and incur debt as well) only to find out a few months later that they don't like the lifestyle, or can't find a way to pay of student loans and live with the pay this industry typically has.    
     
  5. stevenvhayden

    stevenvhayden

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    I hear that a lot from chefs and employers so I have no doubt that it is a common issue that people need to consider more before going to school. However, at least in my experience the people in my school were going for the experience and had goals outside of cooking in a restaurant. With the food trends growing I think there has opened a lot more doors within the food world. However, I agree that the courses could be better focused. In my school I felt like it was an overall experience instead of focusing on the basic cooking techniques that would give someone a good foundation to step into a kitchen.

    a lot of people in my graduating class weren't clear on what a properly seared chicken breast should even look like let alone be able to do it consistently. At least most could break down a chicken or make an aioli though. People stress that a culinary graduate should know how to work in a kitchen but I would expect them to know basic cooking techniques. learning to work can only be done in the work place. culinary school should be learning to cook and nothing more.
     
  6. grande

    grande

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    My complaint would be the lack of breadth in the program- depending on menus running, you might not ever do a buerre blanc, hollaindaise, work with roux... it was a community college program and it got biggrr/better after i left, and was overall a positive experience, but that was my complaint
     
  7. foodpump

    foodpump

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    ?... learning to work can only be done in work the work place....
    [/quote]


    Exactly my point. Here you have some one who has never worked in a kitchen, yet knows how to cook.

    What does an employer do with them?

    With no previous work experience, it's prep work or salads. How does the culinary grad pay for school and living expenses?
     
  8. chefross

    chefross

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    Funny how the more things change the more they stay the same.

    I went to culinary school, then 2 colleges and that was  35+ years ago.

    I was saying the same things that have been brought up here on this thread.

    I do realize that within the semester, the teacher has so many things to go over, that it's nearly impossible to focus on certain culinary processes within the given timeline.

    To that end I feel that the student should have a job during the school year to go hand in hand with their studies. It should be part of the curriculum.

    It would be beneficial to have a job that correlates with the students studies.
     
  9. panini

    panini

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    I think the Culinary education has followed other types of education. It is all money driven. Most of the specialties have become diluted to form a general knowledge.

    The culinary specialties are gone. The Saucier,confiseur,grillardian,tournant,potager,etc. Like the medical field, the kitchen has become a general food outlet.

    When you go to a multidisciplinary clinic because you know the name on the marquise is the best in the his or her field, ( The Executive Chef), you could very well be seen

    by a Nurse Practitioner ( Sous Chef). and so one. The result is the top 4-5% of the population get the best medical treatment and best food.

    I stopped by to see a Chef Friend the other day, he wasn't in. On the way out is saw the Sous boning out a leg of lamb. I guess I could use the term butchering. It was a complete mess. I

    could have prepared 2 meals with what was left on the bone and board.

    I agree with @foodpump, there  should be some type of experience before enrolling in school. Hell, half the schools have dining rooms. Let a newbie start there for 6 months as a plongeur

    and instead of pay, give them a credit on tuition if they make it through.
     
    drirene likes this.
  10. ed buchanan

    ed buchanan

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    Panini 

    You are so right. When I taught in the Private school sector all they were worried about is food cost and labor cost and most of all PROFIT. They could not care about anything else.  Public school was different  as they did not care about cost, because the taxpayer footed  the bill. But if I ordered something  80%of the time I would not get it.  How do I  teach them how to make macaroni and cheese when I did  not  get the cheese? There answer  Improvise. ??????? 

         They are all lacking.   I worked with so called chef instructors who knew nothing about butchering, everything came in already cut.. I used to laugh. Thank God I had the experience that I had and learned from the old school chefs. I was fortunate to learn fom the Chefs Garde"Manger, Potage, Saucier, Rottissier, Today the graduates of these schools do not even know what these terms mean. Everything is motivated by the almighty dollar.    When McDonalds  is used as an echelon for a restaurant we are all in trouble.
     
  11. iceman

    iceman

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    OK. ... Help me out here a little bit please.

    "saucier, confiseur, grillardian, tournant, potager" ... What restaurant do these people work at? What do they get paid?

    TIA for the education.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2015
  12. panini

    panini

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    @IceMan  ,

       These were brigade positions in older kitchen set ups. The still exist in places. The Confiseur usually was the Chef responsible for making the Mignardises and Friandise which were small candies and treats usually served on a platter after the meal to go with coffee. The Patisserie was responsible for the dessert while the Boulanger did the bread service. The saucier was responsible for the sautee station and was pretty much high up in the Brigade. The Potager was the Chef who manned the stock pots and prepared the soup. The Chef Tournant was the Chef that filled in each position. I always felt that this position was the best position to have. I never understood why this position did not get as much respect as others like the Saucier and the Chef de Partie. I loved this position before I switched to Pastries.
     
  13. iceman

    iceman

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    Thank You, my friend, for your reply. I am however, well aware of the positions. My question/comment was sarcastic rhetoric in that who hires people for these jobs? A candy maker in a restaurant?!? Are you serious? Are you gonna PAY someone good regular pay to make candy in your kitchen? NO real regular restaurant needs a saucier. How many real regular restaurants have their own garden? It's a completely over-the-top wonderful idea ... but not at all real. MY garden is the produce store 3-miles away; great selection, fresh every day.


    I think maybe that a lot of people need to come back to Earth.
     
  14. panini

    panini

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    @IceMan,

    I guess I'm so old, I fall for most sarcasm. I got excited about the question because I actually had the privilege of being a part of a kitchen brigade developed

    by Escoffier.

       That type of hierarchy in the kitchen brought great respect not only from the Chefs but also the customers. Today the hierarchy has changed dramatically.

    More so in restaurants than nice hotels. It's truly a shame and I'm sure it's the reason that becoming a Chef isn't a profession anymore, it's a job.

    It was great feeling walking into a kitchen and watching the respect for one another.

    The hierarchy from the Executive down was like an orchestra.

    Today the hierarchy starts with the money down.

    Most stations blended into one.

    Not much respect for one and others positions.

    and the worst thing is that the customers have settled for mediocracy. 
     
  15. chefross

    chefross

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    A lot of what you say is true panini. I believe the food corporations and fast food are to blame for this.

    Why would a restaurant need a butcher these days, when all steaks can be readily purchased, grill or oven ready and at the exact weight one could desire?

    Same goes for the baker, when fresh or partially baked products are available, or the garde manger, when everything cold comes for a pre-packaged, pre seasoned, table ready item?

    The brigade positions here in America have coalesced into one or two cooks.

    Everything from Rôtisseur,Grillardin, FriturierPoissonnier, and Entremetier, to Garde manger, and Pâtissier  

    can be managed by 2-3 cooks these days

    About the only position (s) we could still maintain in a kitchen these days would be  "Plongeur" ,"Marmiton" or dishwasher.
     
  16. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Reading these opinions made me wonder how much can be due to the sheer number of restaurants vs the number of diners available to fill the seats any given night?

    @panini  ... you once posted that dining out has by and large become eating out and I have been pondering your statement ever since.

    I remember back in the day when dining out meant getting dressed up and occupying a linen covered table (with the candles and greenery) for 4-5 sometimes 6 hours.

    First was a few round of cocktails then the full dinner (soup to nuts ;-) .....

    Lingering over coffee and little sweets then to someone's home or a nightclub (no DJ's blasting music) to enjoy a few nice brandies as well as more conversation and laughs.

    Granted it was a treat then as it is now ... just harder to find a place that encourages the destination not the chef.

    The busy (re popular) places want to turn those tables 2-4 times and frown on those customers that outstay their welcome.

    The number of staff in the BOH has been compressed in order to squeeze a few more bucks out before the "in crowd" moves on to the next new thing.

    mimi

    As for the FOH....when is the last time you have had more than 3 waitstaff during a meal?

    Hostess, waiter, table runner.

    Where is my Captain???
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
  17. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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         I agree with all of you. Unfortunately, based on all those factors, work experience before or after school is not always a great indicator of how well anyone can cook. So many products are available pre-prepared and are used by so many restaurants that quite often people can legitimately claim to have cooked for years but still lack understanding of how to cook or the depth and breadth of what actual from scratch food preparation means. I have encountered too many cooks who don't even understand what it is they don't know or why they should learn it. 

         This all seems to be becoming a self determining loop. Restaurants rely on the prepared product so have no need for cooks with deep knowledge, cooks end up focusing on the labor saving of the products, schools find it more profitable to minimize the curriculum for the same tuition, the manufacturers keep finding a bigger market for more prepared products and customers are so used to the affordable prepared products available in the grocery store and used in so many restaurants they don't understand the higher prices for high quality, from scratch foods.  

         And then there's food TV. The Julia Childs and Jacque Pepins are being replaced with Guy Fieri and Rachel Ray, not to mention the various "cooking" competitions who seem to be propagating the belief that you can put out three star cuisine in twenty minutes. So now customers sit in restaurants and wonder "How can it be taking so long to cook my dinner?" instead of enjoying the convivial social atmosphere dining out should be. 

        Okay, enough complaining for now. Time for a coffee refill. 
     
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  18. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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     I place a lot of the blame on Al Gore and the internet /img/vbsmilies/smilies/peace.gif So many people are too busy amassing all this readily available wealth of information that is so easily accessible these days and making them instant experts that they don't have the time to understand the processes and foundations that the information is built upon.

    A few years back, I was working a catering gig one time as an extra pair of hired hands. The entree had bearnaise as a sauce. At plating time, the sauce started to break and I watched the chef and sous furiously trying to bring it back by doing everything text book wrong. Finally the sous looked at me and said "Layne, you know how to fix this right. Then do it"...Funny thing is both the chef and the chef had graduated from culinary school probably 10 years prior /img/vbsmilies/smilies/eek.gif Go figure!
     
  19. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    That has to be the best feeling in the world lol!

    mimi
     
  20. chefross

    chefross

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    You have hit the nail on the head right here

    .

    I can't even count how many cooks,

    how many applicants, and

    how many "chefs" I have remembered as being unable to cook without convenience products.

    "What? Make a demi-glace without Swiss-Knorr products?"

    or

    "Huh? Make French Fries from scratch?"

    and the best one......

    "You mean you guys chop your own vegetables here?"

    Yes, so to say that a person has restaurant experience is very very ambiguous.