LCB Grande Diplome GraduateDear Coolchef,
I attended LCB in London and completed the Grande Diplome Program. It's quite expensive, especially with the exchange rate now being nearly 2:1! When I attended, it was a bit more reasonable at 1.6:1.
The program is 9 months, or longer if you decide to take cuisine and pastry as separate subjects. (I don't reccomend it, unless you are looking to work in the meantime.) The current cost you can find on their website, which you can Google for. At the time, it was 18,000 GPB (British pounds), but these figures are 3 years old already.
I also worked for 3 months in the school to get a reduction in fees - if you apply it to your pastry class, it works out to be around 3,000+ GPB.
Now regarding the program - if you are thinking of attending LCB, please understand that LCB programs in the US don't have much in common with the rigorous program in London or Paris. I was very happy with the level of instruction I received, particularly in Pastry. At the Intermediate and Superior levels, most of the students who were just doing the program for fun have already dropped out and you are left with those, who would like to pursue a culinary career. Your personal experience depends largely on how lucky you are with your randomly-selected group. However, the level of instruction is excellent, especially if you take the time to really listen and learn.
Every day you have a lecture and one or more practical classes, where you have to produce one or a series of dishes (usually by yourself), which are critiqued at the end of class. This is really the biggest selling point of the program. The main emphasis is not on the cool recipes, but on the techniques of French cooking. I would say that I have never been in a situation in the kitchen after finishing the program where I was lost as to what was going on. In nine months you see and get to try your hand at many things. The point is that you are not a chef when you graduate - you simply have been exposed to much of what is out there, and it is up to you to practice and perfect it over time.
All in all - I would reccomend this program over many others. I believe that you get very good value for money, especially if you are serious about making this your profession. (It would be nicer if the program was cheaper, but that's another story. :) )
Please feel free to contact me by e-mail if you have any more specific questions. Best of luck!