How high is the standard of college training?

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Joined Jul 24, 2004
I have a question about training that maybe someone could help with.

I have spoken to chefs personally and also seen many of the posters on this forum saying a similar thing - that you're not a "proper chef" until you've worked X years in the business.

What I'm wondering if people in the industry don't consider college leavers who've had 2 years training as fully trained chefs does that me that the standard of college training is low and unintense?

When I left school, catering was one option but I went for electrician training instead. Despite having no previous experience, when I finished college the training was high enough that I could walk straight into a high paid job, yet whenever I see chef jobs advertised for college leavers I usually only see minimum wage jobs?
 

kuan

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That's absolutely true. The food industry is one where margins are extremely low, and where the loss of one or two covers per night can mean the difference between staying in business or shutting the doors. Most restaurants can only support one high priced individual, normally the chef or the kitchen manager. The rest is basically semi-skilled labor.

It's not that the training is of low quality, it's the fact that there are more culinary school grad than there are high paid positions.
 
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"What I'm wondering if people in the industry don't consider college leavers who've had 2 years training as fully trained chefs does that me that the standard of college training is low and unintense?"
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If I understand, what you are asking... is college training worthwhile?

Well, as I write this, I am sitting in a BEAUTIFUL room at the Inn At Essex, run by the New England Culinary Institute. I am here for a 4-day professional development series. I can honestly and sincerely say that what I have seen for the past few days has blown me away!! These students are jamming in the kitchen for 10+ hours per day drilling through an amazing curriculum. I mention that I am at the Inn, because the students run the MAJOR restaurant downstairs, as well as their more-casual tavern. Not to mention the 2 or 3 banquets that are going on at the same time. As I look out at the meticulously kept courtyard, there is a wedding in progress that is being fully staffed by the students. And let me tell you about the food that I see being served!! Wow! :bounce: I am actually excited to see these "kids" working. I mentioned the condition of the 'grounds' because the students are responsible for the garden (really a micro-farm) that provides the Inn with just-picked vegetables, fruits and herbs. The borders around the walkways are edible... that's cool! (I'm not even going to mention the extremely high-volume, student-run restaurant in downtown Burlington, a few minutes from here.)
So, do industry folks consider the education of a chef-in-training? They should! Do they? Maybe not. The answer... Well, here at NECI they marry the kitchen/theory training with extensive externships. So, when a student leaves here, they walk with 1 solid year of hands-on in the field as well as instruction by their classroom chefs. Does this equate to "years of experience" training? No. But, does on-the-job training equate to a formal education? No. I think it comes down to dollars and cents. A formal education may breed fright in an owner/employer in that they know they have to pay for your education (in one way or another). So, if they keep their payroll cheap, they exclude a culinary grad with higher expectations and attract other folks.
Did this help?
 
4
10
Joined Jul 24, 2004
> If I understand, what you are asking... is college training worthwhile?

Yes, but not just that. I don't see what motivates a school leaver to want to go into catering when they will be looking at minimum wage for two years worth of training. How does the industry keep new blood flowing when the incentives (to a lot of people) simply aren't there?

And not just finacial incentives. No offense to any chefs here but it's the only line of work where I constantly hear negetive stories. Like people walking out because the conditions were so bad, hire-and-fire mentality managers, kitchens being run on a skeleton crew, low wages, etc. If the problem is not the quality of training why is it that catering has such a reputation for these kinds of problems?
 
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