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By Jonnyboy (Jonnyboy) on Tuesday, May 30, 2000 - 07:49 pm: Edit

This is just on opinion but the vast sums of money you will be spending on your culinary education would do you much better if you invested it went to work for a talented chef( several)and in ten or fifteen years open your own place with the money you saved. No schoolingwill teach what you learn hands on. From my experience most schools teach outdated techniques and most students come out with a sevre attitude problem,questionable work ethic and expect life handed to them on a silver platter.You do not walk out of school and get offer exec. chef jobs paying 70k. They come from hard work and being taught by great chefs.We are all created equal,and given free will.Some of us just refuse to be average

By B_dalesandro (B_dalesandro) on Wednesday, June 28, 2000 - 06:54 am: Edit

I just have to openly ask where would we all be if we never learnt the techniques that got us where we are today.... probably not any where close to where we are now. That's like the fool who posted on one of the other boards about not needing to learn the mother sauces etc. I'd hate to have that person on my line cooking. The same person probably thinks making a red wine reduction is cutting the amount of red wine in a recipe in half. We need to remember that culinary school is just the beginning of the learning process giving us the basic techniques so we can grow as culinarians. Now don't think I totally disagree with johnnyboy. He makes some valid points. (I'm only defending the teaching aspect of outdated techniques) I just feel that if we don't know where we were (technique wise) we won't be able to move foward.

By B_dalesandro (B_dalesandro) on Wednesday, June 28, 2000 - 07:03 am: Edit

oh I apoligize johnnyboy , I just checked and you are the fool I refered to. I guess you just decided to change which board you posted on. For you wanna be chefs check out the post in the great hall titled "the new millenium" see what Johnnyboys peers had to say about a post that is almost the same. Sounds like Johnnyboy is a little upset (maybe the executive chef that he works for is a recent culinary graduate)

By Jonnyboy (Jonnyboy) on Wednesday, June 28, 2000 - 10:38 am: Edit

Oh look a chef who shuffles papers and hasn't been near a stove in years. No offence but to me exec chefs of hotels aren't chefs, chefs cook.Glorified paper shufflers such as your self are a dime a dozen, the hands on chefs are the ones who excel and go on to do the truly exceptional food. NOw i have no problem with culinary schools if that is your perogitive however to me to spend 70k to come out and make minimum wage is just silly.

By Meatchef (Meatchef) on Wednesday, June 28, 2000 - 11:00 am: Edit

To make minimum wage is a reflection on the quality of the cook. Executive chefs have paid their dues and are teaching what they know to the people who work with them. Yes, we all have to shuffle papers some times but you first have to know what the papers are telling you.
I guess I am really a dime a dozen since I am the Executive Chef of MANY hotels.
It sounds as though you have been burnt somewhere along the line. Telling a "Wanna-Be" to save the money on their education is 180 degrees from what they actually SHOULD do.

By B_dalesandro (B_dalesandro) on Wednesday, June 28, 2000 - 11:17 am: Edit

Just to let you know johnnyboy I've been an exec for only 6 months. Before that I was a working chef and to be an executive chef such as myself with no formal culinary training other than in the trenches of some great kitchens ( Le Cirque, Mesa Grill, and Charlie Trotters) and be only 26 years old that does say something. And to this day even as an executive chef I work my line every single day..It may be for only an hour or two but I do have a hands on approach in my kitchens. And I would love to find the 70k a year job as a "paper shuffler" but I'm in the business to cook great food and me personally would rather stay where I can be hands on. I agree you can't learn in school the same as when you're on a line and you have to make a dish with improper equipment but I can only imagine where I'd be if I had been formally taught the why's of cooking. that would have saved me a lot of trial and errors. So I highly recommend culinary school simply because it does teach important techniques and the why's of food. And please don't take this as an attack on you personally, johnnyboy. This is just my point of view.

By B_dalesandro (B_dalesandro) on Wednesday, June 28, 2000 - 11:17 am: Edit

Just to let you know johnnyboy I've been an exec for only 6 months. Before that I was a working chef and to be an executive chef such as myself with no formal culinary training other than in the trenches of some great kitchens ( Le Cirque, Mesa Grill, and Charlie Trotters) and be only 26 years old that does say something. And to this day even as an executive chef I work my line every single day..It may be for only an hour or two but I do have a hands on approach in my kitchens. And I would love to find the 70k a year job as a "paper shuffler" but I'm in the business to cook great food and me personally would rather stay where I can be hands on. I agree you can't learn in school the same as when you're on a line and you have to make a dish with improper equipment but I can only imagine where I'd be if I had been formally taught the why's of cooking. that would have saved me a lot of trial and errors. So I highly recommend culinary school simply because it does teach important techniques and the why's of food. And please don't take this as an attack on you personally, johnnyboy. This is just my point of view.

By B_dalesandro (B_dalesandro) on Wednesday, June 28, 2000 - 11:18 am: Edit

Just to let you know johnnyboy I've been an exec for only 6 months. Before that I was a working chef and to be an executive chef such as myself with no formal culinary training other than in the trenches of some great kitchens ( Le Cirque, Mesa Grill, and Charlie Trotters) and be only 26 years old that does say something. And to this day even as an executive chef I work my line every single day..It may be for only an hour or two but I do have a hands on approach in my kitchens. And I would love to find the 70k a year job as a "paper shuffler" but I'm in the business to cook great food and me personally would rather stay where I can be hands on. I agree you can't learn in school the same as when you're on a line and you have to make a dish with improper equipment but I can only imagine where I'd be if I had been formally taught the why's of cooking. that would have saved me a lot of trial and errors. So I highly recommend culinary school simply because it does teach important techniques and the why's of food. And please don't take this as an attack on you personally, johnnyboy. This is just my point of view.

By Jonnyboy (Jonnyboy) on Wednesday, June 28, 2000 - 11:42 am: Edit

Sorry to clarify MOST hotel chefs are a dime a dozen, there are some with real culinary talent. No offense taken, sounds like we took the same route(except plug in toronto restaurants)they wouldn't let me in to culinary school as i was to young.27 now and in a similar position to you.However i have nothing against culinary school however i just want to offer a varying opinion cause the same route does not work for everyone.My apprentice who tried the school route hated it and almost quit the biz. He now has been with me for the last three years and he shines.Unfortunatly there are some really terrible teachers out there and schools as well so if this ie the route for you,research it well before you run off to a big fancy name just because of the name.I would wish and encourage the best for any wanna be regadless of which route he/she chose.

By Ardis (Ardis) on Wednesday, June 28, 2000 - 03:25 pm: Edit

Hi everyone,

As a teacher in a culinary school, I just want to let you know that I hear you. Some of us out here are doing our best, but we run into problems too. I teach in a public school, and we don't always get ideal candidates as students. Many students want to learn about cooking, but don't really want to work. Or, they are older and really have no idea how much hard work is required. We also have great budget constraints, so do no large production at all.

If any of you have suggestions which you think would be helpful, I'd be glad to hear them.

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, June 28, 2000 - 06:29 pm: Edit

C'mon guys! It's culinary school, that's where you get your education. Not your hands on. There's no fine line here. You go to school to get an education not to have one given to you.
There are good and bad teachers in any institution. You go to college for an education, if you don't take it you won't get it. If you major in something, law, engineering etc. you don't go directly into the field at a high salary, do you?
I'm sorry, I just don't understand the argument.If you short-cut into the field you will still have to learn the basics. Learning in a controlled enviornment allows you to focus and challange what is being taught.
my 2 cents

By Bbcp17 (Bbcp17) on Wednesday, June 28, 2000 - 09:31 pm: Edit

I totally agree with Panini. Each student has to make the best of what is available for them to learn. Otherwise it is a waste of time and money (usually their parents money).I'm 15 years in this biz and went to CIA. I don't regret going to school. The main problem is that I can't believe, that some of those people actually graduated. Sometimes I can understand when someone doesn't like CIA grads. Sometimes I prefer to stay away from hiring CIA alumni.

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Wednesday, June 28, 2000 - 11:26 pm: Edit

We've had this discussion several times over the past year and the thing that gets me is the use of broad generalizations and stereotypes by those who are opposed to culinary school. In response to evidence that contradicted his generalization about hotel chefs, Johnnyboy countered by saying that only "MOST" are a dime a dozen. I learned a long time ago not to argue with zealots, and people who stand on broad generalizations based on their own biased experiences without taking a fair look at all the evidence are zealots.

Johnnyboy et al. -- if you can hear this -- as a student with two weeks left in a 30-week B&P program, I can say that some of the students are extremely talented and some are not. Some are very hard workers and some spend cleanup time polishing their measuring cups. The talented ones are not necessarily the hardworkers and I suspect that the hardworkers with a little talent will succeed because they are the people who turn out high quality, and more importantly, consistent breads, cakes, pastries, and other production items quickly, while the very talented turn out beautiful, but much less useful, show work.

We have had it repeated to us time and time again that the volume we are expected to turn out and the pressure we are under, and yes there is pressure, are nothing like a commercial kitchen. As Ardis said, they don't have the budget for 20 students to turn out 500 loaves of bread each every day. I would also say that real kitchens don't have the resources to show the pastry cooks all areas of baking and pastry and to answer all of their questions.

Johhnyboy, since you like generalizations so much, here is one of my own. Perhaps one of the things that scares some died in the wool 'school of hard knock' supporters, is that students also learn that kitchens can be professional. They don't have to be boys clubs replete with a hostile environment run by ego-driven chefs who resort to physical violence and mental degradation and have yet to realize that the industrial revolution is over.

By Rubble (Rubble) on Thursday, June 29, 2000 - 02:06 pm: Edit

Hello all! As a comment to Bbcp17's entry, the only reason I can imagine why culinary schools graduate most of their students is to maintain their revenue flow. I am currently attending a B&P program in Chicago and I am sometimes surprised by the grades I receive. I believe the grading is very lenient and liberal to avoid discouraging students. I know that I have received very good grades for products that were not very good. At first, this confused me, but I realized that the school has to do everything in their power to keep the money rolling in. So, as aresult, very good and less-than-good students are graduated.

By Panini (Panini) on Thursday, June 29, 2000 - 05:34 pm: Edit

As in any educational institution!

By B_dalesandro (B_dalesandro) on Thursday, June 29, 2000 - 05:35 pm: Edit

This is a really touchy subject; in fact, I'm the first response to johnnyboy at the top of the page. First, I need to say I never went to culinary school. Yet I will venture to say I know a lot more than the culinary grads that I've hired. I am all for going to school and learning if you have the opportunity to do so. But keep in mind you can go to the best school, graduate with so called honors and not be able to tell a chef's knife from a butter knife. It really depends on what the student puts into the schooling that he/she is getting. Too many great chefs never set foot into a school to say that the only way to learn is by attending a culinary school. I've attended a few lectures where the instructor just gave the basic knowledge if you wanted any more than that you had to ask or look it up yourself so to add a little more to the fire in the debate we need to ask is it the schools who aren't living up to there end or the students that are at the schools.
***Even though I may not agree with some of johnnyboys points of view I'd really like to hear what he or anyone else thinks about this.

By Jonnyboy (Jonnyboy) on Thursday, June 29, 2000 - 05:53 pm: Edit

Now before everyone start to rip me yes i am using generalizations.This does not apply to everyone.My problem with cooking schools is this up here in toronto our schools suck, there are no good culinary schools to speak of so when i get students from there they usually need to be retrained anyway.The big american schools tend to produce students with bad attitudes, who have spent all their money on this education and they feel they should be exec chefs right from the start.As well they don't seem to realize that you know how to make x and i know how to make x but chances are we were not taught the same.They think due to their traning that those are the holy scriptures of recipes.Schools to me are great for your basics, food handling and saftey and few other things.These schools need teacjh their students that even though you were in school for 5 years(or whatever it is )when you step into a real kitchen you are still an apprentice.I would not discourage anyone who wants to go the school route but i also want people who either dont want to go through school or cant afford to to realize that they can still do it and not to listen to anyone who says otherwise

By Panini (Panini) on Thursday, June 29, 2000 - 06:40 pm: Edit

There is a big misconception that all culinary education has to be expensive. We have a 2 year program at the local community college that is excellent. Hands on training and schooling are still two different things. Those without a formal education are very fortunate that the US does not require a certificate to practice. This is the land of opportunity, is'nt it? If there were a test for practicing, I'm afraid some of these great self taught chefs would find themselves back in school. This is not a generalization or a knock. It's fact. This is the one of the reasons that this industry is still so primitive. We do not command the respect as other professions. Stature come from exposure to the media or big paychecks. The spotlight chefs in my area are not even members of the chefs association.
my 2 cents

By Jonnyboy (Jonnyboy) on Thursday, June 29, 2000 - 06:53 pm: Edit

Isure there are tests i would fail as so much of what is taught in schools does not apply to what happens in restaurants today,many of the sauces are outdated to the point that i have never seen them on any menu anywhere ever.The best thing about self taught chefs is that they concentrate more on the cooking aspect and less on some of the other b.s.

By B_dalesandro (B_dalesandro) on Thursday, June 29, 2000 - 07:23 pm: Edit

Hi,This post is primarily for panini
I am assuming panini that you were fortunate enough to go to culinary school. (Before I go any further I must say that you are very knowledgeable- I've read a lot of your posts and as a fellow professional I respect what I do know of you.) Again I want to state I am all for going to school. It not only is the quickest and most concentrated way of being exposed to a lot of techniques and information but it says a lot about a young culinarians commitment to our profession.
I am in a way (after thinking a long time about it) starting to see where johnnyboy is coming from. I may not agree with it but I do see where he's coming from. The point that I think he is trying to make is best summed up in this question to you: When was the last time you made puff pastry from scratch? (I've asked a lot of my fellow executive chefs the same question today)If you are anything like them (They all are members of the local acf chapter) you probably will either answer never or when you were in school. Simply because it's too time consuming and costly. If in fact you answer that the last time was in school then would you not agree maybe the schools need to teach less things like making puff pastry and more things that would be used everyday. (I think that that is the point that johnnyboy is trying to make-but I could be wrong) Again don't get me wrong I think that school is important and I hope every chef could go, but let's face it the reality is not everyone can. (P.S. I just paid to take the ACF's executive chef test and even though I don't have enough experience points I passed with only missing 2 questions....not to bad for a self taught kid,huh?)So it goes back to the point it really doesn't matter how or where you learn it matters what each individual puts in to it.

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Thursday, June 29, 2000 - 11:23 pm: Edit

In school we were told that this would probably be the last time we make puff pastry. They teach it more for an understanding of lamination and the difference between good lamination and bad, rather than how to do single and double turns.

By Debord (Debord) on Friday, June 30, 2000 - 08:48 am: Edit

Great chefs and great pastry chefs are created with-in the individual by the individual. A school or mentor can nuture a prospective talent but the person will never become anything with-out their own desire to succeed.

ALL Institutions need money to run and will take the money (like a whore) to continue. Sometimes it seem the schools are really only in the business of providing a job for the "teachers", not in the education business.

Panini you mention that many great chefs wouldn't pass a test of practicing? Sanitation is one thing I'll grant you that. Everyone knows it takes talent to excell in this industry and that can't be taught anywhere. So we have culinary hopefuls with and with-out talent, schooled and not schooled, at the end of the long hard day it doesn't matter! For all of us chiefs (no spelling error) out there we need bodies to peel our potatoes so we have the time to perfect our skills. Do we really want schools rejecting the non-talented kids?

Bad schools churning out unskilled untalented students exist because somehow they are needed. Everything unnecessary eventually goes the way of the dinosaur. How do we and should we...scream loud enough for people to hear "buyer beware" when it comes to culinary education and the dollars envolved?

By the way, people who have degrees in Engineering make more money from day one than non-degree people doing the same exact job, regardless of experience!

I wish educated chefs created more professional atmospheres in kitchens. But I think that's something that's evolving on it's own regardless of school education. People are not willing to work for, with or hire explosive chefs anymore.

By Rubble (Rubble) on Friday, June 30, 2000 - 12:46 pm: Edit

Panini, I had to smirk when I read your response. Indeed it seems that many educational institutions are generous with their grading. Prior to receiving her graduate degree in business, one of my employees asked me to read her thesis. I was very critical of its poor content and her consistent disregard for the rules of grammar and punctuation. She decided not to change it -- and she subsequently graduated with honors. It's really a shame.

Debord makes a comment that non-talented students are nevertheless graduated because they need someone to do the grunt work for their kitchen superiors. But I think that lenient grading is misleading to many students since it conveys the impression that they're doing well when they really are not. I agree that whether you do well in school or not is irrelevant in the workplace. But, as I've said before, I think it would be in the best interest of the school and its students if more schools could formulate practicums that provide students with on-site experience. This would be excellent exposure for the students and would eliminate some of the 'ivory tower' mentality that can be prevalent among culinary students. Overall, it would turn out a student of better quality and greater reliability.

By Meatchef (Meatchef) on Friday, June 30, 2000 - 01:47 pm: Edit

I must admit that I left CIA with a pretty big head...36th out of 630. The first day on the job(I went to Europe directly from school)I realized that I didn't know what I thought I knew and decided to really round out my education as I did.
I am developing an intern/extern program for my company. With this I hope to take recent graduated and develop them into a viable resource for ourselves and the rest of the food service community.
There are times that a dishwasher will be able to mature into a decent culinarian. The schooling should be viewed as a more direct approach to the ends. Not all kitchens will teach "mother sauces" (LOL) or the classics to build on. This part of the culinary education is very important.
Thankfully, most of the culinary schools are requiring either an internship or an externship as a requirement for graduation. This should help to mitigate this "I am the greatest" attitude that is so oft seen.
Just my 3 cents....LOL

By Panini (Panini) on Friday, June 30, 2000 - 02:33 pm: Edit

To all,

I understand both sides of this issue. To B Dalesandro,DeBord the schooling is a foundation of techniques, not specifics.Most talented chefs have their own style, starting with a foundation.
If you choose hands on training or book training there is a chance that you will mirror yourself after certain chefs or get all wrapped up in formulas or recipes.
I firmly believe that a chef must form his own style. I don't have any less respect for those who learn on their own and have their own style, but you usually fall back to the basics, not a chef or recipe when troubled.
Respect to all those here

By Chefmurph (Chefmurph) on Friday, June 30, 2000 - 04:48 pm: Edit

I have waited patiently, reading what has been written hoping someone would make the connection.
It is money vs. time. That's the whole debate. The end results may someday be the same, hopefully, a great professional culinarian. But? That is not always the result in either tract, so what is the answer?
It depends on many things: does the person have experience, if yes than go to school and hone the skills; if no get some real world experience before you even start thinking about a formal culinary education.
Learning on the job only teaches what the job does, or what that particular chef knows. Sometimes people learn from other people that don't do it right so it continues to be learned incorrectly. It does not teach fundamentals, which is what a school should teach.
I agree not all schools do it well but they should. If a student goes to school to learn it, he must be dedicated to the learning. Just like an employee must be dedicated to his job. Practice, practice, practice. Learning is what the end result should be not recipes, but techniques. Proper techniques! Once you know the proper technique you can follow any recipe.
Every student in school today should complete an extended period of work study, in the real world, with a professional culinarian so they have a complete understanding of what our business and life is all about.
This is a great time to be a chef but what will happen if we can not fill the roles of the kitchen. The debate should be how to attract more workers to our industry and then what is the best way to train them.
Best to all! I enjoy the banter!
Chef Murph

By Xchefmike (Xchefmike) on Friday, June 30, 2000 - 06:23 pm: Edit

hey guys, the point of making the puff pastry in school(I didn't go, but wish I did) is to be able to do it when your local purveyor drops the ball and it is not on the truck. To be able to make the sauce from scratch when the "packaged sauce" breaks,you run out, or it is not what is on the label. these things have all happened to me in the last 20yrs of doing this thing. I run a operation that does 15million a year and get a ton of culinary grads come through and they are not getting the basics any more. Ihave run into the paper barrier in my career. did not get the job cause i didnt have the paper. however i run the most profitable operation that the company has and have never recieved less than a 96% on a health dept inspection. I train other execs in our company and the last one had three degrees from CIA and FCI. He had the concepts because of the education, and I shared the experience because of been there did that. We all have one thing in common though,, PASSION FOR THE FOOD!!
Why else would you go to work at seven in the morning prep,clean,sautee,grill in a kitchen that seldom has air conditioning,never get off your feet,have knees that your surgeon says look like a pro football players, get home at midnight or later and kiss your already sleeping mate and say you had a great day when asked cause the line was executing like a swiss watch and the food was perfect.

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Friday, June 30, 2000 - 08:31 pm: Edit

I have read this thread with great interest, and it's good to see a really thorough and intelligent discussion of the issue. I have a suggestion for us all, though.....

It sounds like we have all been frustrated by the quality of the culinary educations of people we've hired or worked with. We MUST get active in insisting that (at least)our local culinary schools turn out a decent graduate. Write a letter! Let them (the schools) know what they're doing wrong!

Go to the school and ask for interns and don't give them a decent evaluation unless they earn it - even if it means the student won't graduate. Get to know the instructors and let them know when you've got a position open for one of their best. They'll better understend what the working kitchens out there need, and hopefully they'll start providing it!

Don't let them get away with it! You wouldn't let your produce purveyor pass off a case of rotten strawberries on you, would you?

One chef may not be able to effect change singlehandedly at the CIA, but you sure can at your local community college. Good Luck!

By Daddyofcook (Daddyofcook) on Friday, June 30, 2000 - 09:10 pm: Edit

i may be over my head alot buy i am a father of a 17 yrs old who wantsto go to culinary school.at 70000 for 4 yrs is it really worth it if all the chefs ••••• about the end product they recieve from these institutions

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Saturday, July 01, 2000 - 08:56 am: Edit

For someone with my own somewhat limited financial resources, if all you're getting for $70,000 is a culinary degree, it's probably not worth it. You could probably get 90% of what you get at that expensive school for 1/3 the price at a good 2 yr community college. Then maybe spend a couple years taking specialty classes and interning under as many knowledgeable chefs who are willing to teach as you can. Or spend the other 2 years and the rest of the money traveling and learning in another country. There have been lots of suggestions on this site for non-US schools.

Like everyone has said here, it's really the effort you put into the education that determines what you get out of it.

By Mmherrick (Mmherrick) on Saturday, July 01, 2000 - 03:02 pm: Edit

Interesting conversation. I started out as an apprentice in Switzerland at age 14 and learned from the best. (So I thought) Life went on and I soon found that I required some kind of paper proof that I knew how to cook. What an insult! Still I plodded through four years of culinary school at age 43 and acquired that valuable (!?) degree. Then I returned to the US to work at a few places in NYC with CIA grads as my boss. Yikes! The CIA seems to have written the culinary vernacular or am I mistaken ? The CIA guys make some of the worst bosses, clique together, have arrogant attitudes and dominate the line with their banter about the roux being just a bit too thick, how the waiters are too slow, how the wine for the bordelaise is just a bit off......Can we do some cooking guys and make some real food. We might even make some money.

By Panini (Panini) on Saturday, July 01, 2000 - 05:36 pm: Edit

This is no different from any other profession. There are great attorneys, good attorneys, and ambulance chasers, all from the same school.They have their cliques,Frat brotherhoods,and so forth. The good thing about this discussion is that we are finally a PROFESSION. Gaining respect each day from the general population. We would not be having this discussion in the US 25 yrs ago. I think.

By Shawn (Shawn) on Monday, July 03, 2000 - 06:50 pm: Edit

I have read all your posts and found some very
interesting views on culinary schools. I graduated from culinary school two years ago and I have to agree on some of the opinions expressed here.
While I was in school I saw a quite a few students who were less than motivated and some that greatly lacked academic abilities. However,
these students, to the amazement of others and
myself, advanced along with us. I have to agree
school recruiters lead you to believe that you will be writing cookbooks and having your own
cooking show within a year after graduation. I still feel it was the right route for myself.
Because as far as the education aspect of it, i
received a strong culinary foundation to build upon. I was fortunate to have to have spent my externship with a talented chef who took the time
to teach and mentor me. I have to agree that the
bottom line is passion, drive, the eagerness to
learn, the willingness to accept others ideas and

By Vatel (Vatel) on Tuesday, July 04, 2000 - 12:23 am: Edit

A point to throw in the mix. When I started at J&W in 90 we had lab groups of 12. When I was teaching as a member of the Fellowship program 4 years later first year lab classes had risen to 20 to 24 people per class. The quality of the AS graduates had greatly dropped due to the school cranking out graduates. I'm very proud of the education I received and the accomplishments I acheived in school but the recent increases in Culinary school attendents has greatly affected the school's ability to educate students without prior food knowledge. A great deal of these kids fall through the cracks during their time at school. And are pushed through. I'm only mentioning what I saw at J&W . Did any one else experience this at other institutions?

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Tuesday, July 04, 2000 - 10:58 am: Edit

I'm about to graduate from the CCA's pastry program, and there is one student in particular who has passed every class with a C-. It's pass to progress, so that is the lowest grade that the instructor can give her without having her back in their class.

By Mmherrick (Mmherrick) on Tuesday, July 04, 2000 - 11:24 am: Edit

Right on Panini! You are quite right about gaining respect. Take the thought a step further....25 years ago we would probably have been fired for having this type of discussion at all.
So where do we go from here? How do we gain the respect we deserve without becoming a group of smirking professionals in white coats? Is this where our duty to the community enters? Aren't we the people who show up at the market places and buy fresh, local produce? Shouldn't we be allowed to show up in the dining room more often to see if the meal was as we thought it was supposed to be? We (chefs) serve our guests and not our ego and that has always been my problem with those in the profession who graduate from the top schools and pretend that they set the trend. Above all, though, we do have the priviledge of discussing the profession freely.

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, July 04, 2000 - 05:11 pm: Edit

Funny thing, my retail kitchen is wide open to our customers.I did this purposely. I welcome both uneducated and the foodies to chat.It has been the focal point of this operation. As small as it may seem, seeing the chef adding to their order excites them. There has been such interest in classe4s, we have no choice but to do them. This has been very rewarding since it was not a part of my business plan. We have gained alot of respect for the cleanliness and the openess of our operation.

By Mmherrick (Mmherrick) on Tuesday, July 04, 2000 - 06:13 pm: Edit

Getting the guests interested in more than just the flatware and the food is a great idea. I have often thought it would be a good idea to get the guests interested in cooking by offering a culinary club. On a slow evening (do you have one?) open the kitchen to a select group of foodies and let them prep and cook for a small membership fee. Have the group meet once a month or once every 2 months and have them plan a prepare a meal for their partners and/or friends. I tried this in a couple of places in Europe and it goes over quit well. Do you think it would run in the US? It certainly opens the doors and eyes.
The open kitchen concept, by the way, is standard in most Greek restaurants. Getting back to the subject, creative and daring concepts is what makes the business challenging. Wannabe a Chef? Sure...Don't get stuck in snobbism and routine.

By Cookiemonster (Cookiemonster) on Wednesday, July 05, 2000 - 12:41 pm: Edit

First of all I would like to say this is a very interesting board of the culinary profession. I am a graduate of a culinary school (The Restaurant School) and believe me after the first 3 weeks all that newness wears off. I had some teachers who came from the old school who lined us up for inspection BEFORE we even touched so much as a carrot. Then I had some who couldn't even show me how to make a rose on a nail tip! Some people think this profession or this life is like what they see on TV with Emeril et.al. It's not! Do I see Culinary schools as a waste of money? Partially,I do because sometimes we didn't get even the basic fundamentals of the business part & the amount of people that slide through on less than a prayer. But like they told us it is technique technique techique!. Even when I did my apprenticeship, I still was re-taught some things by my Exec. Chef because "ain't nothin' like the real thing!".
When people ask me what school should they go to, (we have a few) I try to tell them go to both, visit some classes & compare. Do your homework & remember nothig will be given to you if you don't work for it.

By Daddyofcook (Daddyofcook) on Wednesday, July 05, 2000 - 08:22 pm: Edit

hey cookiemonster love your name .i have a daughter with the drive and grades to get into any school she chooses.i wish she would attenda small school but she is a product of the 90sand mtv which means bigger is better,aglossy brochure carries more worth than black and white and money grows on trees.if these schools know this and they recruit to this mentality,what should i look for at johnson and whales?i will be there this weekend .any input would be great

By Cookiemonster (Cookiemonster) on Friday, July 07, 2000 - 06:32 pm: Edit

To dadyofcook: I went to a smaller school in Phila and there are some things I paind attention to on my visit and some things I wish I did. Notice the hands-on class size: are there more than 30 people? For me it would have been a lot harder to have a good hands-on class if there were more than 30 to one teacher and we are all making hollendaise. Some people need more individual attention than others. Talk to some of the students, especially try to find someone that is taking the classes your daughter would be taking. Ask them about their experiences in/out classes at the school. Get the REAL experience from them, not the glossed-out scene admissions is trying to sell you. Don't be pigeon-holed to one school. I received catalogues from 85 percent of schools on the east coast and was accepted to the Baltimore International Culinary College(BICC) also. I chose to come back home & attend The Restaurant School for a number of reasons. The bottom line is go where your daughter will
feel most comfortable. I'm sure others will have suggestions also to make on this subject. Thanks for liking my name!

By Miken (Miken) on Thursday, July 27, 2000 - 11:14 am: Edit

I saw a documentary on the Navy's damage control school. You put a bunch of people in a simulated environment, and then start flooding it. It is a very realistic addition to classroom teaching. My proposal is this: Staff a culinary school kithcen with the bare minimum of people, then rig the kitchen with switches that turn off certain pieces of equipment to simulate breakdowns, or to turn heat up on things and burn them. Randomly pull someone out of class to simulate a no call/no show. Have people planted in the class room to start squabbling over who touched who's new knife. Have servers bring back perfectly cooked steaks saying "this isn't medium rare". Have a switch that causes the dish machine to overflow in the middle of service. Have a server come back and ask for a table that was never rung in, etc. I could go on and on.

Now, before you all tell me what a fool I am and how this would never work, the idea is partially a joke. But think about it, wouldn't that be a great way to teach culinary students about some of the problems that we have to face almost every day? It could be part of the regular curriculum like Culinary Theory, or Garde Manger. Before you graduate you have to make it through "Hell Kitchen".

By the way, if anyone out there opens a culinary school like this, or adopts the method in their curriculum, I expect royalites, or at the very least, a job in the control room of "Hell Kitchen" :)

By Bakeshpdan (Bakeshpdan) on Friday, July 28, 2000 - 12:24 am: Edit

I have read about 75% of the posts on this subject, and it always gets my blood a little warm when I hear someone bashing culinary grads. I would be nowhere near where I am today if it wasnt for the school the a went to. and yes I still make everything from scratch. puff dough, danish dough. pie shells. and I dont have a sheeter. and the reason they make it comercially because there are enough lazy chefs out there or chefs that are not smart enough to make it to support it. when I went through school most students were just out of high school, not really knowing what to expect.and probably no knowing if this is gonna be there chosen career. the average american changes careers 7 times in a lifetime. so if these recent grads you complain about arent gettin it done do them a favor and get rid of them.

By Urbanurth (Urbanurth) on Sunday, August 06, 2000 - 12:29 pm: Edit

Great discussion. Remember, though, it's not just "experience" and not just "education" and not just "passion for the food/hospitality/presentation/art." It's also a business, and many of our peers (who are now doing other things) do not have the capability to meld savvy horse trading with impeccable culinary skills. In many cases, it's the business aspect (and I include the full spectrum of business here, from accounting to image creation to cost analysis) that determines whether you survive or succeed -- not to mention fall flat on that new knife....

By Alissa (Alissa) on Wednesday, March 28, 2001 - 04:18 pm: Edit

OK I'm new to the board and am the utter definition of NOVICE (So please be kind!) :) I did have a couple of thoughts, though, that I think are worth at least a half-cent, from my limited perspective.

A lot of the discussion mirrors some of the hot topics in the industry I just came from: the language industry. It too is a very "new" industry in the US in terms of its public profile and respect. Translators are very galvanized right now about educating their clients, end users, and the general public about what they do. In addition, there is even less formalized translator training available in the US than culinary training, so the debate about accredited translators vs. non-accredited is a hot one.

Language professionals in the field right now are on a huge bandwagon to coordinate with the few schools in the US that do offer translator training, so that they can be sure the grads have the right tools and skills. There are a lot of formal, organized efforts to this effect and if I can be so bold as to deduce from a few posts that this is a legitimate concern for the culinary industry as well, I suggest taking a look at how other "young" industries are addressing this issue.

Just an outsider's perspective. :)

By Alissa (Alissa) on Wednesday, March 28, 2001 - 04:21 pm: Edit

...So I could tell you all a lot more about translation, but that's not why we're here. As far as cooking, I love it and have left the language industry to pursue a career in culinary arts (somehow). I start school in the fall and have been talking to a lot of area chefs, caterers, etc. to get their professional perspective and guidance. I know that in addition to my education I need to get some hands-on experience and am more than willing to start at the very bottom. I have never worked in a professional kitchen before (except for a year of flipping burgers 10 years ago in high school), so I am apprehensive to say the least. I am walking away from everything I know professionally. Please tell me if I am crazy. ;)

Your help is greatly appreciated.


By Ushiba (Ushiba) on Sunday, September 16, 2001 - 01:04 pm: Edit

Ladies and gentlemen I am 29 have not gone to Culinary School.......I'm almost out of the Navy. I have however taught myself quite a bit. Enough that I've got a small(growing I hope) following of people for whom I create dinner parties in my spare time. I have several problems with all this.
I have to brainstorm and go through the the trial and error process before I get to the kitchen I'll be working in. I can't tell you how mortified I was when I got some fresh caught sea bass only to get it home(4lbs. of it) and discover that there were pins in the back:( I should have know and as a result I had to improvise.
My thought is that Culinary school would teach me what I need to know to avoid most of those mistakes. I am not rich and have a family to support as well. I don't know if I can afford school but don't have the resume to get a job with a good chef.
As I see it I need to enter into an apprentice situation or go to school. I would appreciate any thoughts or advise on these matters.

Adrian Diday

By Peachcreek (Peachcreek) on Sunday, September 16, 2001 - 01:38 pm: Edit

What do you mean by "pins in the back". I have never heard that term, and would like to know.
Are you talking about bones?

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