Be aware that the CIA is top notch... Also top COST, and they to my understanding WILL NOT accept those who have not worked in a restaurant already. (But truthfully, I would HIGHLY recomend doing so before you drop a few thousand on a culinary school anyway.)
I am currently enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, Texas and I am in my second month. I have enjoyed the classes thus far, especially the lab. The lab classes are quite large (34 or so students) but we have two instructors in the course which are both equally qualified. Both of my instructors are very knowledgeable on both technique and history. I am very impressed with the explanation of WHY things happen as opposed to "do this and this will happen." Both chefs are incredibly approachable and both live by the "Not asking the question, is the only bad question" philosophy. I actually saw my chef in the on campus library after my class, sitting with previous students of his discussing the scholarship opportunity they were pursuing. This is a man who could have gone home after our class yet stuck around to chat with students in an unprompted open discussion about how they could earn credibility and save money for school. As for the BEST culinary school? Who knows? Not many people can afford or have any reason to experience two schools or more. From what I have read, NECI (New England Culinary Institute) might be the best as it has the lowest Teacher:Student ratio, and requires 2 externships. Also from my reading I have found that most chefs who have had an intern from NECI have been more than satisfied. However it is more expensive, although a longer program than most from my understanding. I have no way of truly knowing however. All I know is that I do not regret my choice of LCB, as so far it has been been worth my time and money I could be wasting in another semester for a degree I don't care about. The facilities are top notch, the faculty is excellent and approachable, and the student clubs and activities are plentiful.
I am currently in my first six-week session at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, which is a Le Cordon Bleu school.
I have loved it since I started. I, like most who think about attending, have been warned against it, as well as encouraged. I chose to trust my own judgement, and I suggest you do the same.
What I would suggest is to book an appointment with your admissions rep. and have them physically walk you around the campus while classes are in session. This is what finally decided me. When you look into a classroom and see people cooking, getting consistant and helpful feedback from an instructor, you can pretty much believe that's how it is all through the program.
Anyone disagree with me?
I am studying at LCB in London and it is really great and well worth it. The teaching here has been amazing and its great to see everyone in my class improving so much after only one term. You should look into the possibility of studying in other countries because from whats been said so far the fees on the UK course seem to be less. Trying not to be bias towards LCB, but in england there are a lot fewer choices than in the US. All I can say is that the school has exceeded my expectations so far
If you want to read more about studying here I am writing a blog about it
Unfortunatly here in the states we are quickly seeing the downfall of good cuisine and great restaurants.Although all those chefs on the food channel are making nice things, and more people are going to culinary school. One has to ask ""Where are all those grads going to work upon graduation'''?
Your successful restaurants, just by looking at their parking lots are Olive Garden,Applebee's,Chili's etc. these are all glorified fast food operations. None of them require a chef on premise.
Cooks trained like robots to push out half commissary prepped foods is all they require. True there may be a chef at the commissary,but thats it. The days of scratch cooking are quickly ending.Labor and food cost has slowly put an end to it.. True there will always be a good place but few and far between. Only the upper middle and wealthy class will be able to afford them. They can't compete with the purchasing power,and volume of the chains. I ask does it merit paying all the money culinary schools charge to give you the oppurtunity to work in one of these chain units that at least here in Florida start these cooks at about $11.00 or 12.00 an hour?
There are not that many good places left that can absorb all these graduates.
Never thought I would see in my lifetime the demise of the White Tablecloth restaurant. Sure we have a Keller,and a Forgione, and a few others, that are trying to keep it alive but thats it. I ask "Is this progress" ?
Mrphantuan.......At a big name university when you graduate for your $44000.00 you will be offered more then #12.00 an hour.
I agree with most peoples comments here and I would go with Le Cordon Blue. It's one of the most popular and reputable culinary schools around in my opinion. And it has a ton of locations. The only downside is that it is expensive. Le Cordon Blue costs $38K to $41K per year! But you know what they say, you get what you pay for. Also, I'm sure you can apply for financial aid for culinary school. Found this resource to do so: http://www.allculinaryschools.com/culinary-careers/article/financial-aid
Don't waste your money. The only reason they get so many students is because they have an enormous section of marketing staff who travel abroad to recruit students. Its a shame. The Ottawa program doesn't provide what the Paris school does. The patisserie "MOF" who is supposed to be "teaching" spends most of his time on his phone or smoking outside. He said himself that this is his retirement job and he's taking it easy. I've heard a couple students say that he doesn't care and unfortunately when you are sitting in his class (the times that he's there- he was gone for a month in the 3 month superior semester) you come to that realization. And considering he is a MOF I would have imagined that he would have been very clean and precise. He works like a slob. It truly was a disappointment. If you really are considering going here, talk to the senior students who have been through the program and not the staff. I visited the school before applying and was buttered into this program by the marketing senior (Peter B) who went to the LCB PARIS school but said "I wish I had gone here instead". Marketing, marketing, marketing. Get a real opinion from the Senior Students!!! PLEASE!!! And don't talk to one that they get to talk to you. Seriously. Obviously they know the ones that aren't happy with the program and will steer you away from them. They will tell you exactly what I am telling you. When I was a student in the basic program I heard all these negative comments from the superior students but thought I would wait to find out for myself. Too late I could have saved my money.
In order to discourage people from wasting their money on LCB Ottawa I'm going to be posting all the recipes and full accurate curriculum for their program. I say accurate because what is advertised on their website is not what I went through.
Those schools are all way too big for me. I go to NECI (New England Culinary Institute) and my culinary certificate class literally has 8 students. Not only that, but we're split into two different sections. So my culinary theory classes have all only had 4 students with 1 or 2 chefs teaching. In a large class of 30 or 40, your chef isn't going to notice when you're doing your knife cuts wrong or be able to help you with other techniques as well. Also, those schools are very expensive. I am only halfway through my certificate program, but please take a look at NECI. It may be small but it's one of the best culinary schools in the country.
p.s. I used to go to URI and Providence sucks. Don't go to J&W hahaha.
Save your money enroll in a Community College. You will learn the same basics the rest is up to you. When I used to look at resumes with all these schools, they meant nothing, lets see how you work and handle yourself in the kitchen. You will learn more from practical experience then any school.Good Luck to you
I am just about to graduate from the 10 month program in patisserie there. I'm sure a lot has changed since 2005. I agree with everything you said, but it does seem lately the school has been making a lot of 'corporate' changes that has put negative effects on the students about to enroll. I got lucky in a lot of ways. I checked out French culinary in NYC, CIA and LCB gave me an offer I couldn't resist. But I am glad I only signed up for the diploma program. It's a great starting point!
I would after community colleges have to reccommend French Culinary Institute in NYC.. Their staff are all Pros.