Trying to decide between two programs or none at all!

Joined Oct 3, 2008

I am 30 years old and looking to make a career change. I LOVE to cook. and the only thing that's held me back from going to culinary school sooner has been $$$$ and logistics. I live in DC and was thinking about either NYC or Paris but had to put both ideas to rest due to the above mentioned reasons. Last thing you should know about me is that I am Persian/ Iranian and eventually what I plan on doing is opening a Persian restaurant with a twist. I already know how to make/ cook all of the things that I plan on having on the menu. The menu will consist mainly of de-constructed Persian dishes, either in technique or presentation.

Now.... Having said all of that I wonder do I really need culinary school? Can I just save that money and put it towards my restaurant? Or if some training is necessary please help me decided which one.

I am deciding between the culinary program at L'academie de cusine in Maryland or the diploma program at the Art Institute in Arlington, VA. The main difference I see is the level of involve offered in each program. I'm thinking that the 36 hours diploma should be sufficient but also wondering if the program is even good to begin with? The cost difference is almost double with Ai being the lessor of the two and the length of time again Ai being less. I am begining to lean towards Ai. I am just worried about the validity of the program. You never hear about amazing chef being Ai trained! I wish there was a program around DC that mirrored that of FCI in nyc.

Please help! all insights, opinions and comments are welcome... as long as you're nice!


Joined May 22, 2010
"I'm thinking that the 36 hours diploma should be sufficient "

Is this a typo? 36 hours?

It sounds like you are more interested inthe business side than the food side. Home cooking and professional cooking are very different, and many good home cooks enter the business thinking they've got the golden ticket.. only to get eaten alive and go broke.

If I were you, I'd be searching for a good Food & Beverage Management program. One that will teach you the basics of food and liquor cost, human resources, health and safety, F&B bookkeeping... that sort of thing. Or you will most likely become one of the many, many restaurants that fail within their first two years of opening.

All it takes to cook is a love of food and willingness to learn.

All it takes to manage a restaurant is your life, free time and all your money.
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Joined May 4, 2010
(Kevin Gillespie, the last winner of Top Chef was an AI grad fyi. Not exactly Thomas Keller but homeslice can do some serious stuff)

If you want to develop a palette go to Paris or attend a high-end school, eg CIA.

AI's program has a heavier focus on the business side of the business. Don't go to business school to learn how to run a successful kitchen, they will tell you the wrong things because they think you're a straight service business and you're not. And while they do have a lot more aimed at having some business awareness, it's nothing you couldn't teach yourself by reading through a lot of the business books in any bookstore. Doing the program is more about having access to/contact with the Chefs and Food & Bev people, which you're going to get by just working too (assuming an appropriate employer and not someone just as lost as you are - which there definately are many of).

Dunno about LCB on that issue.

Listening to the type of resourceful person you are tho, I think you may find the answers you seek by observing from within a kitchen similar to what you envision. Which one of those is easier/less expensive/more appealing is up to you. 
Joined Oct 3, 2008
Thank you everyone for all of your great advice. I do agree that I am focusing more on the business side of it because that is what worries me the most. That is the aspect that is least familiar to me. I know how to cook. Not that i am the best ever but I can cook what I plan to serve and yes I have the willingness and desire to learn more.

I think at this point focusing more on the business side of it will help me find my way...

and yes 36 hours... but I failed to mention that it's 36 CREDIT hours :)

thanks again!!!
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