Excellent program!! Save your money..don't go to A.I. or Le Cordon Bleu, Pasadena until you read this!
Pros: 5 hr classes, textbooks have more info than Le Cordon, low or no tuiton! Get a transferable degree, plenty of one on one time,
Cons: need to pay an $80 material (food cost) fee per class
Let me preface this with a little about myself so you can decide how this review will help you. I am 35 and after working in Finance for the past 9 years I've decided to follow my passion and pursue culinary arts. This is a review for both Le Cordon Bleu, Pasadena AND Saddleback College as I have attended both.
I started out by enrolling into LCB, Pasadena last Fall. I live an hour and a half away from this school but am a dedicated individual.
Le Cordon Bleu is a money churning machine that does NOT care about your future or the atmosphere of their school. They want your money. Plain and simple.
First off, your sanitation class and card is from a program called "Prometric". This is not even a Servesafe class and no employer I have worked for ( 4 of them so far) in California will accept this as a legitimate food handler's card. That's one class wasted.
Most of your Foundations 1 class is watching the instructor chef perform tasks and your "hands on" is hardly available. You're spending about $70,000 for a degree (they forget to tell you about the interest). The 2nd term of school was to be taught by "chef's" who were ex-students, younger than me, never held executive chef positions and were known to "fraternize" with other students of the opposite sex as they were the same age. The Psychology class that is for an A.A. degree was being taught by someone without a Psych degree themselves. This was last year so if you're going there now I'd look into this.
You want a quiet Library/Learning Center? Forget about it. The LRC is run by students and when Chef Instructors walk through they themselves get loud and disruptive. Quiet classrooms? Nope. Students talk over the instructor Chef's and rather than kick them out of class or discipline the disruptive students, the Chef would stop teaching and just stand there and wait....wasting MY time that I spent hard earned money for. As I said, I live an hour and a half away from L.A. I wanted help from their job placement center. They told me I live too far and to look on Craigslist.
If that's not enough for you to look elsewhere...have fun!
Now for my review of Saddleback College! After completing that term at LCB Pasadena, I took a step back and realized I got sold by the "hype" of their salespeople and TV ads. (Where do you think they get the money for that costly advertising??)
I researched the Art Institutes near me (as bad Yelp reviews as LCB), The San Diego Culinary Institute (looked great but you can't do full financial aid there) Orange Coast Community College (great program from what I've heard but hard to get into due to size) and Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo.
I scheduled an appointment with the head instructor Chef, Chef Lisa Inlow, and she had me come sit in a current class of hers. She made time for every student's question, 4 hours out of the scheduled 5 was hands on cooking!! Only 1 hour lecture and a very informative lecture at that. I noticed her instructional books (On Cooking by:Pearson) were over twice the size in pages and info (she had me peruse one) than those that LCB Pasadena uses. (Wiley). There are more recipes and much more detailed information going on in the Pearson books.
After sitting in Chef Inlow's class I asked if she could sit with me and listen as I go over my goals and what I did at LCB. She gave me an hour and a half of her time!!! She doesn't get commissions like the salespeople at LCB do. That in itself sold me on her program. She was fair and showed me that her program differs greatly from LCB so it would benefit me to start from scratch and take all of her classes. I quickly agreed.
I have now completed one term at Saddleback College. The Food and Beverage instructor and Baking instructors made their respective classes fun while being extremely informative. Saddleback offers elective classes which are specific in cuisines and types of cooking. They have an Italian, Chinese, Classic French, Vegetarian, Healthy Eating, American Regional, Asian, Mediterranean and Mexican class to name a few. Le Cordon had an International Cooking" class. When I started at Saddleback I was working one on one with a Chef in OC that gave me a chance not based on my attendance to LCB but on the fact that I showed the willingness to drive an hour and a half to get a degree and still achieve high results. (Saddleback is an hour away from me as well). Now, I have been hired at one of the top 5 star resorts in South Orange County (of which Chef Inlow has current contacts and helped without me asking) and I look forward to my Fall Semester as well as advancing through the brigade at this hotel (which will take many years but worth it).
Finally, cost. This is a community college. If you are low income then California has a Board of Governor Fee Waiver which you can apply for and pays for your tuition. I did this and am supplementing with using my grant monies I never did when I was younger. I have to pay $80 material fees per class and my books but have wisely used my grant monies. The classes for my AA degree are transferable to the UC and USC programs. My degree will be free. No loans. Nothing. After interviewing with over 30 Chefs in Southern California they all mentioned that a degree is important but just the drive to get one is enough to impress them not the name Le Cordon Bleu or Art Institute. Those schools will leave you with THOUSANDS of dollars in loans and a $10hr job. You need to start at the bottom no matter what school you attend so why not attend one that gives you the potential freedom of debt, potential for your continued education and overall well being.