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French Culinary Institute (FCI) - day vs night

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Besides the obvious schedule difference can anyone speak to why one is better than the other?
post #2 of 15
The admission counselor told me when i went to go visit that it will be better to do the night schedule because u will be doin dinner menu in the last two levels 3-4 and told me u get better recognition by doin dinner over breakfast and Lunch.He also pointed to me that the day cost more than evening because the day schedule includes Essentials of Artisanal Bread Baking and Wine Courses which he said u can add to the evening schedule on separate or later on if want to and it would still come out cheaper than the day.Hope this help.
post #3 of 15

FCI Grad

I attended the evening program (pastry) at the FCI.

The major difference between the day and evening program (aside from the things you mentioned) is that the evening program has older students. They're usually people who are doing a career change and/or working during the day. Day students are younger, including some students that were right out of high school.

You'd probably feel more comfortable going to school with people who can relate to your situation. Or perhaps you would prefer to be in the opposite group for other advantages.

Furthermore, if you know of a certain chef that you want to have as an instructor, he/she may only teach during the day or at night.

Hope this helps; Good luck!
post #4 of 15
Hi ijyaung As a FCI Grad How was ur overall experience?
post #5 of 15
i'd be curious to learn if the more well known instructors that are featured in their advertisement for the culinary program teach in the evening classes.

also, is on campus housing available for evening students? please advise. thanks!

gabby
"and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
Reply
"and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
Reply
post #6 of 15
The Deans (such as Pepin, Sailhac, Torres) that feature very prominently in the marketing materials do not teach the classes. From time to time, however, they do give demos in the culinary theater, which is great.

The housing that they provide is not on campus. It's on Roosevelt Island which is about a 40+ minute commute, and is available to all students - if there's space. I have never seen the accomodations nor have I heard much about them. However, if you contact the school, they'll be able to fill you in pretty quickly. I think Liz Alper is in charge of housing, but also check out www.craigslist.com to get an idea of what's available.

As for my experience there, I had a great time and had an overall good experience. However, just like everyone says, it really does depend on the student making the most of it and facing difficult situations like an adult. It's not easy; other students will drive you crazy and so will some of the instructors. But that's life.

If you're in a quandry over where you should go, one thing to keep in mind is the FCI's location in NYC. You can find everything you could possible dream of in this city. I lived in chicago for years and used to think that the food culture there was good. It pales in comparison to NYC. However, keep in mind that YOU DEFINITELY PAY for the experience, and sometimes, it can get overwhelming.

However, if you're young and really hungry, so to speak, give the school serious thought. The FCI's network is pretty good, and the school is in a huge growth phase.
post #7 of 15
i appreciate your honest comments. at present i'm debating between fci and cia. i definitely would like to go away and experience the nyc food scene. i wasn't aware that the big three weren't instructors. although that is the idea one gets based on the marketing materials that are used.

that definitely puts a different spin on things for me. how much interaction did you have with them save the occasional demos? also, did you find the job placement and externship resources plentiful?

thanks again!

gabby
"and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
Reply
"and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
Reply
post #8 of 15
There was not much interaction with the deans. You may see them walking in the halls and they may pop into a classroom to say hi. Some students would line up to talk to them after demos, but it's not that effective because the chefs get bombarded.

As for getting help with externships and jobs, I thought the career services department was very helpful. Externships nor internships are not required for graduation, but you really should seek them out. If you've got a good attitude, you can get into a lot of top restaurants. The advantage of having the Career Services dept was that they could tell you what to expect and what other students may have felt about a certain kitchen.

As far as FCI's reputation in the industry, I've heard that a lot of people feel that the students do come out with very good skills (I felt very comfortable in the different kitchens that I went into), but I also heard from a couple other people that they need a little more realism (perhaps because we don't do internships or externships?)
post #9 of 15

FCI vs ICE?

I'm currently working as a magazine editor and am interested in culinary school as a way to transition to the food magazine genre. What can anyone tell me about the pros and cons of these two schools (FCI and ICE)?

(I also welcome any information on uclinary schools in the LA area as I'm debating which coast to move to from the midwest...)

Thanks!
post #10 of 15
In general, schools do not talk too much about after you leave! You are pretty much on your own other then places like this...

I am always surprised to see how choked some culinary students are when they start working in a professional kitchen.

The best schools for me are the ones that offer apprentiship like 2 months in school followed by 2 months at work, followed by 2 months at school etc... for 2 o 3 years duration. The quality of cooks that come out of those programs are extremely good.
Martin Laprise
Author of "My daughter wants to Be a Chef!"
www.thechefinstead.ca

“A cook who invest a few bucks every week is a smart cook"
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Martin Laprise
Author of "My daughter wants to Be a Chef!"
www.thechefinstead.ca

“A cook who invest a few bucks every week is a smart cook"
Reply
post #11 of 15
Hi, jls! Scroll through this forum and you will find answers to your questions -- they've been asked many, many times already.

As for the discussion of externships, I agree that they are invaluable: you get to see life in the "real world" without the pressure of worrying about your paycheck. Don't get me wrong: the pressure to PERFORM is there. But at least at the beginning, the chefs understand that you are there to learn and so are less likely to come down as hard on you as they would if you were a real employee. Unless you come from CIA, where the assumption on all sides is that you already know everything. :lol: :crazy:

But I disagree with Laprise about such a brief rotation. In 2 months it's very difficult to get deeply into what you're doing. By the time you've figured it out, it's time to switch. I went through a program with 9 months of classroom and kitchen work followed by a 4- to 5-month externship, and thought it was great. We could follow subject matter start to finish in school, and then progress "on the job" just like any other new hire. Instead of getting stuck for a short time on one kind of task, I got the chance to progress through a wider range of jobs.

And as for students choking -- I've seen CIA grads who got hired directly onto the dinner line looking like deer in headlights. Clearly a case of misplaced confidence. With some people, the problem is that they just can't deal with the pressure. An externship can help them discover that, but then they've got to admit it and look for another way to use their training. Some schools are not good with helping students in that situation; they assume that everyone will come out a restaurant chef. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #12 of 15
I forgot to mentioned, the work is only done with one or two employers, so the students always go back to the a work place they know, but in hotels for example, they rotate the students to diferent departement over the 3 years. Butcher, pastry, saucier, garde manger etc...
It's actually just right, I have hired the result many times in Alberta, and wow, those kids came out of school after 3 years with great adapting skills, great knowledge of the actual work and good foundamatals on cooking food.
Martin Laprise
Author of "My daughter wants to Be a Chef!"
www.thechefinstead.ca

“A cook who invest a few bucks every week is a smart cook"
Reply
Martin Laprise
Author of "My daughter wants to Be a Chef!"
www.thechefinstead.ca

“A cook who invest a few bucks every week is a smart cook"
Reply
post #13 of 15
You're right. I'm right. There is no WRONG WAY to do externships (except for slacking off and not paying attention). :D Whatever works for each person.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #14 of 15
This thread is a bit old now, but I thought I'd comment anyway, since it looks like people look back to older threads for reference.

I am a current student at FCI in the daytime culinary program. I thought I could give some insight into some things discussed in this thread.

If you're looking for interaction with the deans, you won't find it in the classrooms itself. You need to seek it out yourself. It's there, you just have to find it. Volunteering to assist them at James Beard or for other events they participate in outside of the school is one way. (Once the deans know you, they're likely to ask for you for additional events that aren't school related. (One girl in the culinary program does stuff for them all the time.) You can also sign up for master classes that are offered fairly regularly by both Chef Andre and Chef Alain, and Chef Andre (and possibly Chef Alain as well, not sure) offer time to speak directly with students one on one for "career advising." Chef Jacque Pepin is around less often than Andre & Alain- usually only once every few months for a week or to at a time. The only real interaction I've seen him have with students is in the halls or during and after demonstrations.

I can't really speak to how often Chef Jacque Torres is around the classrooms since I am not involved with the pastry programs, but he does demonstrations in the theater about once a month that are a blast to watch.

Chef Alain spends a lot of time "wandering" the higher level culinary classes. He comments on students work, offers assistance, answers questions and really makes a point to say hello to as many people as he can. Both he and Chef Andre have done prep for events they're doing outside of school in the kitchen used by Levels 3 & 4 and quite often they ask students to help them out. Just this past Friday Chef Alain was in the kitchen butchering a whole goat (head and all- something most of us hadn't seen before.)

Day vs. Night classes- I'm a career changer and I'm in the day class. My class does have a "youngness" to it because we have quite a few people just out of high school. But we have quite a few older students as well (40+ years old.) The class in front of me is very young. The class behind is pretty similar to mine, maybe with less people right out of high school but with quite a few 20somethings. Every class has a different make up- you never know what you'll get. I've been in a few night classes, and originally considered night classes, and haven't seen that the night classes are any "older" than day students.

I feel like if you're looking for interaction with the deans, the night program isn't going to give you nearly as much opportunity as the day program.

The day program does include both Bread and Wine but having done both, I can say that if you're looking to do the day program because you'll get these additions, don't bother. Bread was awesome, don't get me wrong, but it is only a week. Wine however, is totally half assed. It's a good basic overview but if you're interested in wine at all, you'll be disappointed. (Note that the wine class is taught by your instructor for the 2nd level- it could just have been my instructor- others may have had a better experience.) If wine interests you, take the wine course offered by the school. The weekend class is actually taught by Andrea Immer Robinson herself while the night class (I think it is a 6 or 8 week class) is taught by the rest of the wine staff, who are also very knowledgable.

I don't live in student housing but I have seen a few different apartments on Roosevelt Island. For the money you're paying, you could likely find a decent studio or 1 bedroom in a outer borough instead of sharing a small apartment with 5 other people. If you DO go with student housing, and you've signed an agreement for the full length of your program, I understand from other students that it can be very difficult to get the school to let you out of your apartment early if you decide to live on your own.

Externships aren't required for graduation, but the school does assist with internship placement (and job placement) and encorages students to do internships while in school if they can. I have one, as do quite a few of my classmates. The student placement staff really do work with you to find an ideal internship situation.

Now, I'm not trying to sell anyone on the school. I feel like every school is going to have its upsides and downsides. Go where you find the best fit for you. Even with some issues I have with FCI, I still feel like out of the NYC schools (I was looking only in NYC due to family reasons), FCI is still the one I'd chose today.
post #15 of 15

your comments helped me a lot!

I'm an international student who's seeking a career change.
I'm considering FCI and CIA. Thank you for your helpful information about FCI. It helped me a lot.

I guess FCI is a pretty fair school. However, I found that the tuition for the FCI is very huge, even higher than the one for the CIA certificate program, which is about the same length (7months).

I don't understand why is that.
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