WanaBe a ChefAdvice from graduates from reputable (J&W,LCB affiliates) and community colleges

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Looking for a Culinary Arts Program?

If you live near any of the programs listed below(or are interested in living these areas while in school)click on the link to get free, no obligation information on the programs.

All the Best,

Atlantic Culinary Academy (NH)
California Culinary Academy
International Culinary Academy (PA)
The Cooking & Hospitality Institute of Chicago
Western Culinary Institute (OR)
California School of Culinary Arts, Pasadena, CA
Texas Culinary Academy, Austin, TX

WebFoodPros.com: WanaBe a Chef: Advice from graduates from reputable (J&W,LCB affiliates) and community colleges
By Kaddu747 (Kaddu747) on Friday, August 13, 2004 - 04:11 pm: Edit

Becoming a chef has been my goal for the longest time.For some reason though i decided to pursue my Bachelors in science(which i have completed now) and i want to start culinary school next year...which is a change in plans because i had planned to work first.I already have considerbale kitchen experience working in the college cafeteria...omlette cook,chef's help,bakers help etc.

I was thus weighing my option of attending J&W or other LCB accredited institutions vs a community college.

I have a a distant friend who is working in some small restaurant in milwaukee having graduated from a comm. college....i understand getting work experience to move up the ladder is important but im sure there are better opportunities for starters.

On the other hand another friend of mine graduated community college n is now in a big New York school.....since he said his initial education wasn't going to get him too far.

Finally,i've read again n again about how the education doesnt matter but the experience does..which i agree,and maybe the employers dont agree with....who prefer a J&W graduate rather than from "X" xommunity college.


By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Sunday, August 15, 2004 - 09:55 am: Edit

What do you want to do????
Everyone wants to be a fine dining Chef!
This (fine dining) is less then 1% of the restaurants in the country, approximately 3,000 Chef jobs!
Explore all the options, Personal Chef, Casual Dining, Writing, R & D, Cruise lines, Private Chef, Teaching...etc.
Once you know what you want, look for the school that will give you the skills you will need.
On the job practice is invaluable, schooling is fine, it gives you a foundation but, there's nothing like real life, repetition, speed, kitchen common sense......
I always advice against blowing 30K a year for education you may or may not use, where I teach, ( a Vocational school) the cost is $2,500 a year, when my kids finish they get a year credit at J & W and save themselves about 18K!!!
The production we have is also incomparable to J & W's 9 days in the labs.
LCB is an even bigger rip off!
IF you decide to spend that kind of money go to CIA, and no, I'm not an alumni! I just know educational value!
Good Luck

By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 11:21 pm: Edit

I graduated from a LCB school a year ago. Now I would think long and hard before hiring a grad from this school. Career Education Corp., the company that owns all the LCB schools in the U.S., licenses the LCB name from the folks in France, and the connection does not go much further. The company has had financial problems from some of its non-culinary colleges (this is a huge company), and they have made my school and others into factories that churn out grads who are not qualified to work on a line.

My advice is to go to a community college and spend a lot of time working the line in as many different restaurants as you can. That's what I did, and I've learned a lot more there (and moved up much faster) than if I had relied on my formal education.

- Steve

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 12:28 am: Edit

Steve9389 !!!!!!
Glad to hear your doing well.
Hows the family?
What are you doing these days?

By Chefgibz0 (Chefgibz0) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 02:20 pm: Edit

I agree with both Steve and Manny. I am a community college grad that was accepted to both CIA and J&W. I spent 2,500 a semester verses 25,000 and I think I am much better off. Get as much depth as possible. Do not focus on one aspect i.e. fine dining or the like. Work in as many different aspects as possible a nice 4 star resort or a Vegas casino will give you the full spectrum of food service apps. Short service, large banquets, both buffet and sit down, breakfast, lunch, dinner, fine, casual, themed you name it.....DEPTH. Work with everything from truffles and verjus to eggs and home fries. Also look into who you would be workin under. Their professional reputation and saying "I worked for him" or "I worked here during" will go a long way.

By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 09:58 am: Edit

Well, Spike, how much time have you got to spare? I'll give you the abridged version:

Laid off from day job in June; decided to focus on cooking full-time (much to chagrin of spouse ... ah, well).

Started working the pasta station at Maggiano's -- 500-600 covers during week, 900-1,000 on weekends, about 600 lbs. of pasta per day. Got ass seriously kicked for a couple of weeks, but the guys on the line and chefs were very patient and cool until I got the hang of it.

Worked as chef at PGA Championship, runnning a kitchen out of a tent serving fine-dining for 3 meals daily to 1,000 guests in 10 corporate chalets (we sent all of our food out using All-Clad as serving dishes).

Have an offer to be exec chef at a new place in a very, very prime suburban location -- good base and bonus potential, benefits currently a little thin. Their second offer comes today.

Family's good, but kids started 8th and 6th grade last week, so I feel a bit old. Because of school funding problems here in Ill., my wife can't get a teaching job, so no caviar this month.

Besides that, nothing much going on.

- Steve

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 11:17 am: Edit

"Have an offer to be exec chef at a new place in a very, very prime suburban location -- good base and bonus potential, benefits currently a little thin. Their second offer comes today."

Take it.
so you been keeping busy, thats good.
I'll be in ILL. on my road trip, when, if, you take that job let me know where and I'll stop for dinner. I'll bring some caviar.

By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 02:15 am: Edit

When's your trip? They want to open by the first week in November. We'll eat the caviar in the back, though. No way I'm sharing that with the riff-raff :)

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 09:00 am: Edit

i know what ya mean.
trip is end of nov.
thats if i'm not working.
now that i'm thinking about it, maybe the 2-3 week of dec. is when I'll pass by there.

By Chefmatt (Chefmatt) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 05:59 pm: Edit

Steve ,
I am curious about cheffing at the PGA Can you tell me more? I do Michigan, Phx and Daytona for Nascar. Just for fun ,I'm not changing jobs or nuthin.Thanks in advance -MATT-

By Gauen (Gauen) on Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 09:40 pm: Edit


By Andapanda (Andapanda) on Saturday, February 19, 2005 - 02:07 pm: Edit


Don't buy into the marketing hype of culinary arts schools. Consider the "quality" and "value" of the education you are considering. A degree, regardless of which school it came from, might impress an employer initially, but if you can't hold the job, it will be irrevelant. The Europeans have been training cooks far longer than Americans. They still train them through the apprenticeship system. There are extremely few culinary schools there. Most top European chefs never attended any famous culinary school, but did their apprenticeships and attended a vocational school as well. If you can do an apprenticeship, I'd advise you to consider doing one. If it is impracticable to do a 3-year apprenticeship, then go to a vocational school.

A school's reputation is not everything. I had attended a small, unaccredited(by ACF) culinary arts program at a community college in California. That school was down the road from a U.S. Navy base, and some of the instructors and students at that college were active-duty or retired military personnel. My Food Prep instructor was a retired USCG cook. He ran the kitchen like a military galley. We had to stand "at attention" for inspection. Men had to have their hair cut short--above the ears and collars, and be clean-shaven, no facial hair, except neatly-trimmed moustaches. No jewelry allowed, except wedding bands. Watches MUST be fastened to the lapel of the chef's coat. He measured our cuts with a ruler to check if our cuts were in accordance with classical French definitions. He had always stressed repeatedly to work with a "sense of urgency!" How many schools in the U.S.A. teach their students to work with a "sense of urgency," not to mention to work with "economy of movement," and to work "smarter," not "harder?"

Now compare that little unknown, ACF-unaccredited program with those famous culinary arts programs(including the one I'm currently attending) and you'll be appalled to discover men with long hair, sideburns, goatees, visible jewelry--earrings, piercings, watches on their wrists, etc. My Pastry instructor recently required the class to wear hairnets--unless you shaved your head. Please do not believe the marketing hype of culinary schools. I have previously worked with apprentices, and I must commend them. Some of them were absolutely fantastic cooks! Generally speaking, apprenticeship graduates are far better prepared to survive and succeed in the rigorous cooking trade than culinary school(private and public) graduates. The CIA's and NECI's statistics(this applies to ALL Culinary Arts programs) state that 75% of their graduates are not working in the trade after 5 years, and 90% have left the trade by the 10th year after graduation. (Would you buy a car that broke down 90% of the time?)

DisneyWorld has a good ACF-unaccredited culinary apprenticeship program. The Greenbrier Resort has the only "finishing" apprenticeship in the U.S.A.: You must have either an A.S. degree in Culinary Arts, or have 5 years of high-end resort kitchen cooking experience to be considered for admittance to their apprenticeship program.

ACF-accredited culinary apprenticeships are usually done in conjunction with community colleges.
Check the ACF website for an apprenticeship program near you.

If it is impracticable for you to do an apprenticeship, choose(wisely) a good vocational school.
Check ShawGuides for a good vocational program.

You need not attend the top school in the U.S.A., but here are the top two Culinary Arts programs in the country:

Schoolcraft College.

Grand Rapids Community College.

Contact me off the forum if you have specific questions. I'll be glad to help you if I can. Good luck. Take care.

By Gauen (Gauen) on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 08:01 pm: Edit


what you said about european apprenticeships intrigues me. I'm a citizen of the EU but I was born and raised in america, I'm planning on moving over there at some point. can you tell me more about how they do it? or just point me to a website. thanks.

By Andapanda (Andapanda) on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 08:53 am: Edit


I defer to Foodpump(and dpconsu if he reads this) about European cooking apprenticeships.

Europe Work Information.

Information about cooking apprenticeships in the U.K.:


There were a myriad of other websites too numerous to post here.

If you decide to go to school instead, check out Westminster Kingsway College in England.
Article mentioning Jamie Oliver.

By Foodpump (Foodpump) on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 09:34 am: Edit

European apprenticeships are typically 3 years. You find an employer who is able to train apprentices, and sign a contract. Salary is the pits-not even enough to pay rent with in the first and second years--most apprentices are 15 or 16 and still live at home.
Usually, you go to a trade school one day a week where you get your "book learning". And at the end of those 3 years you get the usual series of tests, but emphasis (over 50% of the total mark for 3 years) is based on the practical--cooking a 6 course meal for the exam inspectors.

If you can do it, do it. I left Canada at when I was 19 to do it, and it's probably one of the best things I've ever done .

By Chefmichael43 (Chefmichael43) on Thursday, February 24, 2005 - 01:00 am: Edit

I did my school time at Oklahoma State University technical branch ( 2 years Associated in food svc. mgmt/ culinary arts)The instructors are all ACF Execs, 3 CIA grads and the 2 mains were one French and one Swiss both apprenticed at 13 for 5 years and then the Swiss to the Hotel and Restaurant School in Geneva, the French to Paris LCB. This school is about 3000 a semester a real bargain.

By Andapanda (Andapanda) on Saturday, February 26, 2005 - 11:17 am: Edit

Tale of two chefs: Thomas Keller and Gray Kunz.

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