ok, its been asked before, but....

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Joined Feb 5, 2002
Schools????
Ok, Im an old guy(30) that wants to change his lifestyle and careers. I'm willing to give up everything, go back to school, and start from scratch and the only thing that really excites me is a culinary career. Honestly, I have no expereiece at all in the restaurant industry except for bartending, but I think it may be the thing for me still. Now..to my question: There is some great schools here in Toronto area, ie George Brown (T.O) and Cordon Bleu in Ottawa; however I am seriously considering going to NYC for a school, i.e. for several reasons: 1) I think the backing of a NYC school will benefit me in searching for work in the US or overseas, and 2) I really love NYC and think that it would be a better overall culinary experience there. However the cost are considerally different, especially considering the 2 currencies. So I guess, I am just asking if anyone has opinions on this Toronto vs. NYC schools and the opportunities that would be avaialable after each. By the way the 2 schools in NYC that I am considering are The French Culinary Institute and the CIA. Also any advice on changinfg careers this late in life would be appreciated. Thxs for your help!!!
Cheers:)
 
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Joined Aug 14, 2000
I am entirely biased. I am in no way partial. I am not in the indusrty nor am I a cooking school grad. Discalimer on the table, If you are looking at schools in NYC you should look at FCI , Institute of Culinary Education (Peter Kump's) and New York Restaurant. If you are going to spend 9 months and $18,000 it might make sense to go visit these places. It will help give you a sense of how they operate. If you want to get hooked Up THe Insitute of Culinary Education let me know.
 
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Joined Mar 4, 2000
Welcome Torontoguy.:)

Since I don't know anything about Canadian schools, what they offer, and what they cost, it's hard to draw a comparison. The schools you chose are fine choices, as are the ones that Kyle recommends. Bear in mind that the CIA is not in NYC; it's about 2 hours north. I agree with Kyle, that you should visit the schools and decide from there.
 
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Joined May 26, 2001
I'm an alumna of New York Restaurant School -- their first A.O.S class in 1996. I found it to be an excellent program. Also a career changer, with no professional experience whatsoever, I learned enough to more than keep up in any professional kitchen. My chef-instructor got me into one of the best restaurants in the city (even int the country) for my externship; that has helped me tremendously. I heartily recommend the school.

HOWEVER ... consider the time and especially the cost. If you come to NY for school, you'll have to live here -- a not inconsiderable expense. And school ain't cheap, either.

And, to be honest, no chef I've ever had an interview with much cared where I went to school, unless he went there, too. What it comes down to is always: How well can you do the job?

Just a few things for you to think about.
 
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Joined Jan 5, 2001
Hi Torontoguy!

Well, if you're an old guy, that makes me an old girl. I'm in the same boat and took the plunge last year. Here's what I can tell you for certain: Ultimately it's less about where you went to school and how much $ you forked out, it is more about how much YOU are interested, you read, you experience, you taste. You and only you will decide how far you will go. If you said you were interested in an MBA, I would say DO go to Harvard instead of Dalhousie. I'm just not sure how much of an edge you get from going to a pricy cooking school, especially considering how much time it actually takes you to get your investment back financially speaking (unlike business school). Cordon Bleu and Canadian Culinary Institute are lovely schools indeed, but they don't reflect reality. You get what you pay for, and you will get pampered. If that's what you enjoy, then that's ok I suppose. It isn't going to help you in the real world. Keep in mind that in every school, you will have some knuckleheads that will try to bring the whole class down. Your ability to surface to the top and shine through will determine how well you succeed in the business.

Feel free to PM me if you'd like more info. Good luck in your search!
 
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Joined Feb 6, 2002
Contrary to general belief, cooking school does not teach you to be a "chef". Cooking school only gives you the tools needed to learn. Unless you know the proper way to hold a knife youll spend the first few years chopping your fingers. You have to ask how much am I willing to pay for the basics. Though it is alot faster to go to school than spending years figuring it out.

The basics are simple: How to saute properly, how to braise properly, the proper way to use a knife, how to FIX your sauce if it breaks etc. It kind of like the knowledge and advice your parents gave you before you left home in order to prepare you for the world. And the atmosphere in school is not what you will find in the real world. They teach you to be efficient and to hustle. If you were not under all that pressure at school and your first day on the job the restaurant got mobbed atleast you can cope.

There are videos that the CIA offers that show Fundamental Skills and they also offer online continuing education classes. But whatever you do remember to research, research, research. Only you can make the final decision and youve gotten pretty good advice from all the others here.

Good Luck! :chef:
 

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