Help with finding good culinary school

Discussion in 'General Culinary School Discussions' started by dindolino, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. dindolino

    dindolino

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    Culinary Student
    Hi everyone, I am currently a senior in high school and looking for a cooking school. I've checked out LCB, J&W, and CIA. Currently I'm looking at the Art Institute, I was wondering how good of a culinary program AI has, also how much is it to attend CIA and J&W, ultimately I'm looking for a school that will teach me the most with a bunch of different cooking styles. Though I've done a lot of research I would love some feedback from people who have attended these schools, and how their experiences are with the schools. Thanks.
     
  2. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Where are you located?

    Have you looked into community college(s) in your area that offer culinary classes?

    Have you ever worked in a restaurant/commercial kitchen, and I do NOT mean a fast food/casual dining "assembly mill"? I'm fairly confident that anyone "in the business" will suggest, nay STRONGLY RECOMMEND, at least a year's experience working in a commercial kitchen BEFORE contemplating culinary school.

    Have you researched the employment opportunities as well as the associated pay scales? The fact is, a large majority of culinary school graduates will start their employment at minimum wage and probably will not see much more than $10->$15/hour for a number of years, and then only if they are fortunate enough (READ LUCKY!) to work under a chef who has the foresight to mentor those with potential.

    Do the math, can you really pay off your $40k student loan at $10/hour?

    From what I've observed, culinary schools, whether community college or private, for-profit, trade schools, will offer the opportunity to learn basic culinary skills and "exposure" to some variety of cooking styles, HOWEVER, I have serious reservations as to whether there is any opportunity to "master" or even become competent in one or more specific cooking styles.

    And lastly, take ANYTHING said by any recruiter/admissions specialist for ANY school with a grain of salt and DO THE RESEARCH YOURSELF!

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with learning a trade, and that is what culinary arts is, a trade, just make sure you understand what that means.

    If you envision something beyond "cooking for a living", take a look at university offerings in hospitality management, that is a profession, not a trade.

    I'm not certain as to the industry figures, but my "guess" is something on the order of 1 out of a thousand cooks eventually becomes a "chef" worthy of the title and, maybe, 1 out of a thousand  will become known in the industry and, maybe, 1 in a thousand of those will achieve "star" status.
     
  3. jtobin625

    jtobin625

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    Dlndolino,

    Pete brings up some excellent points. I think it's important before people give you advice on where you should go is to determine if you should really be going at this point.

    1) Have you worked in the food industry?

    2) If not, does your high school (assuming you are in high school offer any programs?)

    3) What do you expect the work force to be like when it comes to the food industry? (with or without school)

    Start with those questions if you want feedback that pertains to your situation.

    Also, I used to work in admissions in culinary schools and started a website about the food industry, schools, and the realities of it all. Check out www.culinaryschooladviser.com 

    You are wise for asking people's opinions and I look forward to your responses.
     
  4. theunknowncook

    theunknowncook Banned

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    Line Cook
  5. dindolino

    dindolino

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    Thanks guys for the feedback. Here are answers to some of the questions

    1. I live in Chino, California, only an hour away from L.A.

    2. Not only did I do the culinary arts program in my school but I've worked for a small catering company for the past few years

    3. I don't expect the workforce to be a walk in the park, from what I know it's tough, time consuming, and lots of hardwork and those are the things that attract to cooking so much, that plus my love in taking a list of ingredients and making something extraordinary out of them.

    If i forgot any or if you have anymore I would gladly answer them.

    I've come into some very good advice recently, " no matter what school you go to, if you're an excellent cook." So this has brought me to ask another question, to become an executive chef does it take a bachelor's in Culinary Management? I'm leaning more towards the degree side of things because that's what will help me with my dream of being able to work in a kitchen that I own.
     
  6. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Definitely business management, IMHO, the culinary aspect is necessary for production but remember, cooking is a trade! Running a business, and a restaurant IS a business, involves managing not only the culinary trade but a host of others as well.
     
     
  7. jtobin625

    jtobin625

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    I am no industry expert but few chefs actually "own" their restaurant. Investors usually are involved and it's just a matter of finding investors that you work well with and stay out of it (if you prove that you are turning a profit). Here's an example of a restaurant in Chicago dealing with this issue. They have had 2 Chef's leave within the last month http://chicago.eater.com/archives/2...y-and-team-leaving-mado-over-money-issues.php

    Also, becoming an Executive Chef happens in 1 of 2 ways...you either work hard, eventually moving to Sous, then moving up to Executive Chef. If you read the bios of established chefs, many work 5-10 years in the industry before running a kitchen. Sure there are exceptions and there's more than enough that never make it or want to get in that position. 

    The other option is to look into www.acfchefs.org as they have mentorship programs along with certified titles you can work toward. Certified Executive Chef being one of them. 

    Rick Bayless does not have a Bachelor's Degree in Culinary Arts or Culinary Mgmt but he does have one in Anthropology. Education is necessary but you need to determine how you want to learn.