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Deciding on a School!!

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Help -
I can't decide on a school!!!! I'm considering the French Culinary Institute, and The California Culinary Academy. I'm a college graduate - currently a line cook. I don't know if all of the stuff I read is worthless!!!!!! I want to complete both the culinary arts and pastry programs so the six month programs offered by the FCI are calling my name. However, I want the best education possible for my situation. The chef I work for is Canadian and doesn't know much about schools in the US. While working in the industry in Orlando Florida, the FCI was recommended to me over and over. I guess I'm not sure what to believe. Any advice?
Thanks!!!!
Rachel
post #2 of 5

In the same boat

Hah,

I know exactly what you mean. I've been looking at culinary schools over the past four or five months. I, too, had it narrowed down to FCI and CCA.

I went to visit FCI and I absolutely loved it. The faculty & staff were absolutely amazing. I spent an entire day there in their level 1 class taught by Chef Pascal Beric (on organ meat day, which was amusing and eye-opening, as I expected all of the people in the class to be down with eating everythnig which was not the case). Class was taught at a pace such that everyone got everything, but not so slow that it came to a grinding halt for anyone. It was a really enjoyable experience going to visit FCI.

As far as CCA goes, it has almost fallen off my list, not because I liked FCI so much or because I visited CCA and didn't like it (I haven't made it out there yet), but because I have heard a number of bad things about CCA as of late. The general buzz that I have gathered from chefs and from other forums is that CCA is rapidly becoming a linecook factory only really concerned with taking your money. I heard it once and ignored it, twice and thought a bit about it, and on the third time, it made an impact. At what point to you begin to heed the warning of others? I don't know, but I'd rather not take the chance. I guess I'll really make up my mind when I go to visit the school sometime this spring.

Something else that has made me think a bit about culinary school is that I was talking to a fellow line cook who seems to be really respected in the Boston area. He's worked at a lot of top notch restaurants in the area. He went to Johnson & Wales down in R.I. and told me to save my time and money and just work instead of going to school. He said that he was a straight A student there and still he would have learned the same amount that he learned in the kitchen as he did in school. So, that has amde me rethink school a bit. The question for me is that will going to culinary school make it easier or more feasible to attain my goal of opening my own bistro? That's something that I have to figure out on my own.

So, that's the research that have done thus far. I dunno if it has helped you out or not, but I figured that I'd throw in my $.02.

ZEN!!!
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
I am discovering similar info in regards to the CCA. The FCI was my initial decision and then I started doubting myself - due to high NYC rent and living expenses. I agree with your friend to an extent, I learn so much everyday just from being on the line. I think the FCI's six month program is perfect - it gets you back on the line faster. School puts the finishing touches on so much, especially in my case. I should think that one could make several connections as well - especially in NYC.

I was supposed to go and visit the CCA at the beginning of March, but was offered this job - a great opportunity for me. I too have aspirations of owning my own restaurant. I was hoping to learn a lot more from the chef, but I get enough on my own - trial and error rocks and it's not over yet. Actually I owe him - he gave me a great job and I love it more and more everyday.

I guess I'm not sure that a visit to the CCA is worth it anymore. You'll have to let me know what you think. Have you thought about J and W yourself??? When are you planning on going to school?

What a good day to visit class at the FCI - I would have loved that!! Extreme eating.
Thanks for the info,
Rachel
post #4 of 5
If you're really serious about going to a school where you will definitely learn the art I suggest going to the ACF website and looking at the past student team champions. There are several schools who consistently win their regionals and these are community colleges in cities where cost of living and tuition are extremely affordable. Don't get caught up in all the hype of this school or that. The proof is always in the pudding.
post #5 of 5
GO TO EUROPE! Work and train under someone. Make alliances. Learn technique and application at the same time. Be broke, work hard, eat peasant foods. (and learn to cook them) Discover wine. Visit parma, Italy. Go to the Truffle market in France. Learn how to make both bouillabaise's (the right way).......Basically, find your path, and get excited about the passionate lives you will soon live. Create experiences around food, because your experiences are what keep you comming back, everyday, for more. And you now what, there is no school on the planet that can teach that.

If all else fails, I agree with the past comment, the community colleges are doing it just as good, if not better than the big schools.
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