Culinary School fro French Cuisine

Discussion in 'Choosing A Culinary School' started by foodisgood, Sep 6, 2012.

  1. foodisgood

    foodisgood

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    Hi Fellas,

    I need some help before I make a career move.

    I am 26 single male, working in IT service and I am at a very good post and earning well. But its never been my passion and I dont love or enjoy what I do. I always wanted to be a cook but with lack of family support and financial I conditions I couldnt.

    Now I am independent and I think I would like to follow my dream and passion of cooking.

    I have few questions to you guys:

    1. Am I too late?

    2. I dont know what culinary art would be better for me, but I am thinking of french

    2. Do I need to have certian good skillsets before I join any culinay school in Europe (french cuisine) ?

    3. What are the average expenses involved to be a certified cook?

    I know this would be a critical move in my life, so I am hoping for some guidence?

    Thank you all.

    Vinie
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2012
  2. 808jono202

    808jono202

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  3. foodisgood

    foodisgood

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    Thanks Jon,

    You've hit the nail right on its head. Yes, I got bills to pay and few other responsibilites too. But if you say its never too late, I am ready to take that risk, given I get some financial help from banks :)

    2. I am thinking of cooking, I have not tried too much baking yet.

    2.2. I have done home cooking many times and I am preety good at Indian curries, but I dont have any professional experience. World cusine sounds good to me.

    3.  I understand there will be competition and I think I am prepared for it. I have worked for long hours and night shifts in myentire  IT career(6 painful years), so I guess if I can do IT service which dont like and survive it, then why not cooking which I love?

    I have many questions and I dont want to bombard all of them all at once, so here are few:

    1. I was doing some research and I found out about few courses, like Bachelors degree, Diploma and certifications etc.

    I would like to know what would be better for me as I have no prior catering experience or professional cooking skills.

    2. If its World cuisine  that I want to learn, then where should I do it? Can you recommend some good affordable institutes? (I am open to go anywhere in this world and learn any language)

    3. How many years will it take for me to earn decently in this industry?

    Thanks

    Vinie
     
  4. tzvika

    tzvika

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    U shuld allweys follow u dreams !!!
    Just like allredy been talld its never to late , mu advice to u is to start build u on
    professional skills by reding lurning n :) cooking , its for shure gonne give u a jump
    into the colinary world , but very importent is to lurn the things right , so find a good source
    Goodluck brother!! ( or sister(-: )
     
  5. foodisgood

    foodisgood

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    Thanks mate. Waiting for some more inputs. I am not sure what course and which institute would be better. My finances are not very sound, so I am looking for some affordable institutes.

    Thanks you for all your valuable inputs,

    Vinie
     
  6. timo

    timo

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    You are not too late; I did it in my 30s. Go here, http://www.gourmandise.co/g/commentary/commentary.cfm and read the articles from June 1/09 to November 11/09 and you will see exactly how.

    If you can handle a knife and know how to boil water, you have the basic skills you need. Use your imagination and you can do it for a fraction of what it would cost you to go to culinary school. It's all in the above-mentioned articles.

    Your first step will be to get a job in a restaurant kitchen, even if it's washing dishes; you should be able to progress to prep cook in no time.

    If you have other questions, I will be glad to help: just use the site's "Contact us" page.

    Good luck! If you really want to, you can do this.

    Carlos
     
  7. elpelotero

    elpelotero

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    I have a somewhat comparable story to yours and can shed some light on the matter....

    Please don't take any of this as bragging, or negative towards you, or anything of the sort...I'm trying to state objective facts. 

    I've been in the restaurant industry since 2008. I have a Bachelor's in Business and a Masters in Hospitality/Hotel School. Since 2008, I've worked as a waiter at a Chinese bistro, done a management internship with Marriot and Hilton, restaurant manager for Hilton, and then took a change and moved to NY to work in a 4 star restaurant as a busboy (at age 24). There I moved up to "demi chef de rang" (I suggest you google that one, tough to explain) before asking for a kitchen transfer. I now started at garde manger in a busy french bistro in times square and moved up to cooking burgers and fries after 2 months. I was making roughly $1k+ per week after tax as a waiter in the 4 star place, and now make $400 per week after tax as a cook. I used to go in to work b/w 3-4pm, and now go in around 1pm. I used to sit down for staff meal, dress in a nice suit, talk with celebrities and pour $1000 bottles of wine, to now burning my hands with a 400 degree oven and getting my hands full of grease and grime under my nails. I used to live in the Upper East Side and walk to work and now live in Harlem 30 minutes from work by train.

    In other words, the life of a line cook is not what is painted on television. It is a tough life, filled with many of societies rejects. Even in the 4 star places, you'll find dirty idiots. Are you prepared to be screamed at over a salad? Are you prepared to slice off a piece of your fingertip (I guarantee it will happen) and continue with service for the next 10 hours, handling citrus and salt? Are you prepared to kiss your social life and weekends goodbye? Read Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential" for a good insight into this industry. 

    I never went to culinary school, and consider it a waste at our/your age. I have played around in kitchens for the past 4 years, learning basic and cooking skills, but never going full tilt into the kitchen until now. It costs $40,000 for a decent school (FCI, Johnson and Wales, CIA)--which most likely means you'll need a loan. At $8-10/hr, it can take a lifetime to repay that. It only takes 2-4 weeks to develop basic knife skills, and just a bit more to get very fast and precise. I apprenticed briefly at 4 star French place in NY where it took me about 1 hour to dice 5 butternut squash into 1 inch cubes for puree. After 1-2 weeks, I was able to do it less than 10 minutes. After 2 more weeks, I was doing the whole puree in 30 minutes and watching it go out on plates. In other words, it's not impossible if you have common sense.

    You will learn so much more by purchasing a handful of good books, googling everything, watching videos online, getting a good set of knives, and throwing yourself into the best restaurant that will take you. There will be innumerable speed bumps at first, but if you're serious, shut up and listen, you have a chance for someone to care 3 hoots about you and show you something you can't learn in school. I've seen countless people come out of fancy culinary schools that lack a sense of urgency, discipline, humility, and applicable skills---skills you should already have regardless of your industry by age 26. So a kid coming out of school knows the proper terminology for how to describe when something is "nape." Congratulations. While she was busy blowing steam up her own ass, I passed her in a promotion and learned how to break down 2 whole salmon in different ways (Japanese technique, French technique) in under 10 minutes by combining what I learned at the restaurant with references in books and videos online. I'll also give you one guess as to who didn't know how to break down lobster the other day with their $40,000 degree?
     
  8. foodisgood

    foodisgood

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    Thanks Carlos and Elpetoro,

    Thanks you for sharing you experiences with me. I now understand the dark side of this profession and also that you dont need a degree to be a good cook. I will take your advise and start learning and devoloping basic cooking skills at home. Try as much as I can and then also try to work part time or on weekends in a small restaurent to get a good feel about this line. Let me try and make sure I am made for this. I did research online and found that the degrees are very expensive and far out of my reach. I dont feel demotivated, but kind of happy.

    Now that the degree plan is droped can you lease suggest me good books for a starter and also some links if you dont see this as spoon feeding.

    Thanks,

    Vinie
     
  9. timo

    timo

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    The last paragraph of elpelotero's post just above contains the best advice you will ever get.

    For your reference, these are books that I can say guided me from the beginning and throughout my culinary ride:

    Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (both volumes);

    Jacques Pépin, La Technique and La Méthode;

    Julia Child, The Way to Cook.

    Of course, I ended up with innumerable cookbooks (including the French editions of Larousse Gastronomique and the Pellaprat works)  for recipes and inspiration; but the above three were my true guides.

    Do let us know what and how you are doing.

    Best regards,

    Carlos
     
  10. elpelotero

    elpelotero

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    The French Laundry cookbook is a very good resource. I also have the books for the CIA and the FCI schools, Jacques Pepin Complete Techniques, Escoffier, and get Larousse as well. I compare between all of these when researching techniques and recipes, and also look on youtube and such.

    The good thing about the French Laundry book is that you get to see what one of the best restaurants in the world does as compared to what you'd learn in school (CIA book, for instance). The CIA book, for instance, does not list egg yolk as an ingredient in classic Caesar dressing. I tried their recipe and it sucked. I later repeated with an egg yolk to emulsify (as you find in 99% of all other recipes) and the dressing was awesome! That's why you need to cross reference.