The Great Hall
This is a new millenium The Great Hall: This is a new millenium
By Jonnyboy (Jonnyboy) on Tuesday, May 30, 2000 - 05:15 pm: Edit

As a so called generation xer and spending some time out here reading all the posts,isn't it time we started updating some of the techniques that are taught in our schools. Escoffier was a great chef in his time but a lot of what he did just does not aplly to what is being done in this industry today. I think perhaps it is time these shcools that the chefs of the future are forking over huge dollars to update the cirriculum because students coming out have the worst attitudes and are horribly under prepared for getting a real job.What we need is some teachers that have been in the actuall working industry in the past 10 years who arent still teaching you how to smoke dinosaur and throw tantrums

By somechefsomewhere on Tuesday, May 30, 2000 - 11:12 pm: Edit

YOu gotta know were everyone else has been, before you can go somewhere new.

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, May 31, 2000 - 11:54 am: Edit

Education of basics is the key to sucess.You talk of working under these great chefs, I'm sure they are all schooled.
One of the problems with the gen xers is the lack of classical training. Some of the hip sauciers work on the line with a blender and cannot make even the basic mother sauces.
A lawyer fresh out of law school still needs hand on experience,but he or she has the basics.
I firmly dissagree that schooling is a waste of time and money. No matter what you are creating you will have to rely on the basics for something.You may not know you are when you do it though.

By Jonnyboy (Jonnyboy) on Wednesday, May 31, 2000 - 12:06 pm: Edit

Yes you need some training but what is being taught in schools is outdated and some of the basic mother sauces are not even used anymore. The classic techniques will carry on as is because they are the basics, but a lot of the cirriculum is not even used any more.And yes i have trained with classicaly trained chefs.However the 3 chefs who taught me the most about all aspects of this business never stepped foot into a classroom.

By Patrick Huggins on Wednesday, May 31, 2000 - 06:42 pm: Edit

Jonnyboy, Tell us more about yourself before you start telling us what we need or need to forget. Which Mother Sauce in the industry isn't neccessary? This month I have had to teach professionals how to do a True Bechamel (For those of you who may not know it, rue is cooked after it is combined), Demi Glaze, and son of a gun I needed an Espaniol for a private menu for 100. Escoffier's basicc may not be the end all in your world, but count on needing to know his work if you want to come off looking like a pro. I was recently at a resturant that had a special of grilled rack of lamb stuffed with artichoke, mushrooms and breading. This dish was great, but not original in creation. The dish is classically designated "Marie Louise style" (see Escoffier) and the plating was the old "three chops over a bed of roasted purple potatoes..." Again the basics ruled and the dish was well done.

By Jonnyboy (Jonnyboy) on Wednesday, May 31, 2000 - 07:09 pm: Edit

I'm sorry never once in my 12 years of cooking have i had the need to use bechamel for anything. And yes regardless of how talented you are you will probably never come up with a true original idea. I am not attacking classical cooking but our schools need to be seriously updated.

By Jonnyboy (Jonnyboy) on Wednesday, May 31, 2000 - 07:10 pm: Edit

I'm sorry never once in my 12 years of cooking have i had the need to use bechamel for anything. And yes regardless of how talented you are you will probably never come up with a true original idea. I am not attacking classical cooking but our schools need to be seriously updated.

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Wednesday, May 31, 2000 - 10:54 pm: Edit

I see your point, Jonnyboy. I think it's very interesting. What I'd like to hear from everyone is some brainstorming on what really is "basic" these days, and how best to teach it. I think maybe focusing on the exact same basics as 100 years ago as the only place to start one's formal learning is incredibly limiting in this day and age.

There's got to be a better way that retains the best of the past masters (like the mother sauces) and yet approaches things in a way that includes and focuses on that which is really the best and most refined of the present. Like maybe a little more focus on what IS relevant today about a bechamel - and how the mother sauces have evolved, and how they relate to other world cuisines.....

I think it's time to get out of some ruts! Now don't jump all over me - I just would like to see some ideas on how to shake things up a bit and look at things from a brand new perspective that really allows for growth. To use a very overused's time for a new paradigm!

By W.DeBord on Thursday, June 01, 2000 - 09:15 am: Edit

You sound like a 16 year old complaining about science class "why do I need to know that stuff, I'll never use it in the real world?". One day when you get older you realize how those facts do relate. Unforunately there aren't enough teachers who can explain and relate their information to current applications that excite their students to understand the importance of what they are teaching.

To become great you have to know more about your media then throwing paint at a canvas. Call it "foaming" and some people will pay you good money for it...but smart people laugh.

You have to know and understand all the properties of your media before you can master it. Because you don't currently use a basic sauce doesn't mean you won't need to know it or understand it in the future. You'll become handicaped by your lack of knowledge eventually.

How bad schools are currently...I don't personally know. I do know how to spend my money wisely and pick a good one.

By W.DeBord on Thursday, June 01, 2000 - 09:28 am: Edit

Schools can't teach people who aren't there to learn. The poor behavior and lack of knowledge and skills from graduated students is the persons own fault! They are a pain to deal with...but we have a whole generation of kids who were spoiled by abscentee parents who cottled them.

I don't think everything can be blaimed on the schools...each of us are responsible for our-selfs at the least (isn't that being an adult).

By Meatchef (Meatchef) on Thursday, June 01, 2000 - 11:49 am: Edit

This is one of my hot buttons. Panini is one thousand percent correct. Without a firm grasp on the basics there is no possible way to create food that is properly balanced and layered in flavor. Perhaps you have never made a Bechamel, or larded a joint of beef, or had to make tournee vegetables, but without those skills, how could you trudge through the development of new products. There are NO shortcuts to perfection and without setting your goals on perfection, you will surely meet your goals that are imperfect. This might be GOOD ENOUGH for some but are our guests not worth the trouble of doing things correctly.
The term shoemaker comes to mind to describe the person who always looks at the shortcuts that sacrifice quality for ease and speed.

By jonnyboy on Thursday, June 01, 2000 - 02:22 pm: Edit

I never said i couldn't make a becamel i just said i have never had use for it as it is a terrible sauce. Roux in general if we are talking about sacrificing quality and taking shortcuts is purely amature and i assure you De Bord in school I didn't listen to the classes i didn't like either and am doing just fine thanks

By Chef R.A. Meadows on Thursday, June 01, 2000 - 03:40 pm: Edit

how can you judge yourself against others,(or) try to be an origanal cook and create new dishes without knowing what your colleags have done in the past??
you are right as far as the chef mills are concerned( i have personally fired many "grads" because they didn't know arrowroot from arsenic)
but I must agree w/ deboard and panini training is everything and if you don't have a passion for food you don't belong in my kitchen.
knowledge is power
if you don't have a need for that you mighty's well be waitstaff

By jonnyboy on Thursday, June 01, 2000 - 04:04 pm: Edit

Perhaps poeple are missing the point I am not saying that classics are not a great foundatipn i am saying that we really need to update these schools SOME of what they are teaching just does not apply anymore. I have been classicaly trained as well as having worked with chefs who never have been near a class room.And although knowledge is power i will take a great cook with the right attitude and train him/her myself anyday.Your knowledge is usless if your food tastes like s**t

By Panini (Panini) on Thursday, June 01, 2000 - 06:07 pm: Edit

Don't take these responses personally. I understand what you are saying, update the education. These are culinary ARTS, in any arts you study the masters and the basics. This is your foundation,then your creativity kicks in. You must have an understanding compliments, pairing, contrast etc., you create your own style by tweeking the old.
I think if you take a step back you will realize that you and your mentors rely on these technics daily.
To enjoy this field you must be learning constantly. Respect any type of education. It may not be your bag but respect it. It works both ways, there are some schools popping up that concentrate on the sizzle not the steak, it's not my bag but I don't knock it.
Good luck to you,

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Thursday, June 01, 2000 - 08:21 pm: Edit

Come on everyone! Can't anyone come up with something new here? I understand what jonnyboy is saying completely. The education system for culinary professionals has failed to evolve to it's complete potential. Panini, you're right when you say that we should respect any type of education - and whatever the source, an education IS exactly what you make of it.

The fact is, however, that the schools - which are the available beginning level education to many who want to enter the field - are not cutting it. There's plenty of us who have expressed our frustration with graduates who don't have a clue. The percentage of graduates who come out of this country's culinary schools really prepared to move into this profession is way too low. Maybe the problem is that there is no formal apprenticeship system. Maybe culinary schools need to be 4 year programs.

There's a whole lot of great food somewhere in between bechamel and cucumber-lemongrass foam. Neither style is right or wrong, and both styles have pro's and con's AND both absolutely belong in every complete culinary education.

I don't think anyone who's posted on this thread is actually disagreeing with each other, right? The classics are vitally important and one must have a thorough understanding of them to build on if they want to advance creatively. is also true that you can have a very high level, creative, successful career in the top restaurants in this country and never make a bechamel. And there's nothing wrong with that!

I don't think the Escoffier/French model is the only one that can be followed to be thoroughly educated. I think that clinging to that model is preventing schools and other training programs from really realizing the potential of our future culinary professionals.

By Panini (Panini) on Thursday, June 01, 2000 - 08:43 pm: Edit

I think your primarily talking about hands on training.There are many formal apprenticeship programs.
It's like any other field, study the basics, graduate and start entry level, gain experience and move up.
Here in the US we don't require certificates to practice our field. This is another whole topic but I think it lends itself to the percentages of business failures here and the lack af skilled labor.
As for the basics, Bechamel, the product, may not be important to many but the technique, timing,proceedure, mise en place, and holding is what is important to know.
My 2 cents

By Raine on Thursday, June 01, 2000 - 09:37 pm: Edit

You are looking for some kind of instant gratification? You can't possible expect to learn a life time of knowledge in 2 years. Any School is designed to give you the basics. It is up to you to apply it, and if your really good, to expand it. They give you the basics so you can learn on your own.
Just my view.

By Country Baker on Friday, June 02, 2000 - 01:41 am: Edit

I have enjoyed reading all of your different thoughts. I am a baker not a chef, but know that you have to have knowledge to bake. In my neck of the woods a roux is used for a plain old gumbo and not much of anything else, except as a base for gravy. I don't always know exactly what you are talking about unless it relates to baking. In this area food doesn't have to be fancy but has to taste good and their has to be plenty of it on the plate. Not what most of you are you are use to. The places that do best around here are the seafood restaurants and the ones that feature downhome cooking. We have had higherscale places open up but they never last over a year or two. I have learned a lot from your messages . Thanks,
Country Baker.

By W.DeBord on Friday, June 02, 2000 - 08:00 am: Edit

Having a longer program to acheive a degree is silly considering what your start wages will be in relation to other professions. Spend a fortune to make pennys? I see an education in culinary arts as just a background or a foundation for future on the job knowledge to be set upon.

I'm sure there are many poor schools out there that need up dating...oh well, shop for a good school. Take charge of your own future. Bad employees graduate from even the finest schools!

By Dpconsu (Dpconsu) on Sunday, June 04, 2000 - 08:05 am: Edit

Yes, a lot of people come out of schools today and freeze when there are 17 tickets hanging! The schools are not designed in general to put the preasure on to students, they want them to graduate and pay fees.That is the schools incentive.

BUT... school does what it is supposed to, it teaches the "why" something works. Anyone can be taught how to make a classical mother sauce by repetion, but do they know the how and why the ingredients work together? After all, isnt cooking really organic chemistry and artisrty combined?

The ability to cook is not the sole basis for being a chef, one must learn the ways to manage time, product and space and most importantly people.The appitude must also be there to inovate with both ingredients and presentation to be a true chef.

There is room in our industry for both the classical methods and for inovation by the young,
just get the knowledge of the chemistry of food, do the time in each station on the line and back kitchen first, then you have the experience and sound base from which to inovate.

From and old fogey who did it the old way and still is learning everyday from both the old guys and the young up and comers.

By B_dalesandro (B_dalesandro) on Monday, June 12, 2000 - 08:12 pm: Edit

In my opinion anything worth learning requires an effort to learn. Culinary school is just the beginning of a chef's learning experience and to be honest I feel that by learning the basics is the only way that you can expand off into your own style of cooking. How can you "break the rules if the time isn't spent learning them". As far as the real life experience learning the techniques involved in the basics will give you the techniques for the innovative modern cuisine. And just so people know my background I'm a 26 year old self taught executive chef at a 1500 room hotel who relies on the classics every single day to help me discover my own style of cooking.
Bill Dalesandro

By Chefmurph (Chefmurph) on Monday, June 12, 2000 - 08:54 pm: Edit

I agree that the idea of a good culinary education is to teach basics but the only true way to learn and develop is through real world work experience in combination with the education.
I teach high school culinary arts and I tell my students to get real world experience before they spend the money on a really good culianry education. I mean a good one, one that goes beyond the reasons why a sauce thickens or an emulsion stands for a period of time.
The only way to learn what you need to know is to know what you need to learn. Any student that goes blindly to culinary school without real experience makes a serious mistake. And any school that takes their money is doing them a disservice too. They need to have the experience of the pressure before they spend 40 thousand plus to only realize it is not the glamorous lights of a cooking show but real hard in the trenches kind of work that not everyone finds as thrilling as some of us do. I loved living the life and working the line but not everyone is capable.
I also agree that the real development of a cook to a chef can only happen after the basics are learned. I have only been teaching for five years so I have not had any of my students hit their stride yet but I look forward to seeing what the best and brightest are capable of in the near future. There can never be too many good chefs!

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