Pros: Top of the line facilities and curriculum, beautiful campus, proximity to NYC
My experience with culinary schools has come full circle.
After graduating from the CIA in '84, I now find myself as a chef/instructor at a NYC high school.
I have to admit that I am not so certain that going to culinary school is essential anymore.
Granted, I am a little biased here. I still think that if you're going to go through all of the expense and time of going to school, you might as well go to the best. In my eyes that would be the Culinary Institute of America.
When I graduated the school only offered an AOS in Culinary Arts. Now you can earn a BA in a few different disciplines. That's very important if the kitchen life is not for you. You can always concentrate on the business side of the industry.
I visited in October of '14 and after being away for 30 years the place still felt hallowed and I knew that what was being taught was pertinent and rigorous.
Every aspect of this institution and campus is top notch and it attracts sponsorships and relationships from the top businesses and associations from all over the world. Nothing is done half-way. It is the cream of the crop, no questions asked.
But, you have to ask yourself; are you ready to go into debt and realize that when you graduate you are not a chef? And everything you learn will not translate immediately into your daily bottom-of-the-totem-pole tasks. It will take years of learning and paying your dues before all you learned starts to make sense.
That's why it's a growing popular belief now is that one should go and just begin to work instead of "wasting" time and money for so long.
As I said earlier, I'm on the fence about going to school now. But, I am 100% certain that the CIA will offer the best culinary education available anywhere.