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This one is for all chefs in here, from a student in need.

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
i will be attending the CIA in Hyde Park, NY in October. Expensive, yes, but i feel that that school has the most versitile cirriculum of all culinary fields. For instance, i realize that most American culinary schools teach or are based on French cuisine and techniques. This is understandable, we as chefs owe the french chefs of the day for the creation of the fine dining expirience that pays our bills today (Escoffier, need i say more?) but i dont want to be a French Chef, and i like the Asian and Italian and American style courses they have there. however, after working with so many chefs from that school, they tell me not to bother going to school at all. They ALL( and thats about 10 chefs) say that the school just wants my money. They all tell me that they can teach my everything i need to know. but heres the thing.................. i dont want to be like them. I dont know what type of cuisine i want to major in, or if i want to work in a resturant, or on a cruise ship, or a Hotel or what......

my question is that is going to the CIA, or any other school a waste of time, or am i investing my time and money wisley?

I really need your opinions....

PS, if you think its a good idea, feel free to make a donation to my Tuition Fund.... im not getting any Finacial Aid.
post #2 of 29
Don't worry. You're not going to end up being a French chef. Do you womanize (or man-ize), smoke, and drink too much? ;)

Just kidding of course. Enjoy your time at school and make the most of it. Where you end up is up to you.
post #3 of 29
The Asians, especially the Indians, have the right touch when it comes to spices, their use, and blending, but the cooking techniques they use could be better.

When it comes to French cuisine, ignore all the fancy schtuff and focus what the French do best: They concentrate on the cooking methods, all 14 of 'em. Asian cuisine uses maybe only 10 or 11 of 'em, but the French use ALL of them. Understand the technique, respect it, use it to it's best advantage for a particular ingredient. Once you've got that mastered, you can do just about anything.

The School doesn't make the Cook, it can't spit you out of a machine with a diploma, molded and embalmed in plastic wrapping as a die-hard French Chef. The School it gives you the knowledge you need. How much you absorb and how you use it is all up to you. Squeeze out as much as you can not only from the school, but from any workplace and any employee you meet.

Knowledge is infinite...
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #4 of 29

do it

I didn't go to culinary school,even though I wanted to, but I opted to get a liberal arts education. The college experience definitly helps, but a culinary arts education would have been more benificial.
that being said, everyone will say ' oh I can teach you, I will help you out' but I can tell you it will take five times longer to learn in the real world than in an acedemic environment. In culinary school you will be exposed to so much more in a shorter period of time.

The really smart way, in my opinion, to go about culinary education is to work in a good place for a year or two and then go to school. I would recomend trying to land a kitchen position in an upscale hotel or resort. In the hotel environment you will see almost every aspect of our business from ala carte to banquets as welll as all the levels of management. By working in the real world you will see how it works and what it takes to make it happen. With that experience you will then have a clearer head goining to school and beyond. Either way, good luck.
post #5 of 29
I totally agree. Get a job in a Four Seasons kitchen for a year, suck up every bit of training and knowledge you can get. They'll train you right. Go for high standards. Then, only then, enroll at the CIA. The instructors will be in awe of your knife skills, and attention to detail. School will then make sense.
Good luck!
L
post #6 of 29
I go to school with this guy. Hes a sr. im a jr. We are both enrolled in the Culinary Arts program at a technical school. That will give us an edge up. I have been behind him on everything and him me in all of our decisions. He knows what hes doing, and knows how to use a knife. We are trained in the simple basic stuff that basicly you learn your freshman year at any college. I plan to go to the CIA next year as well. He is graduating, tonight infact, and me next year. I dont beleive he has had a job that isnt in a resturaunt, if so i havent heard about it. I dont douwt (sp) him in any way. He will go into the CIA and rock it.

Like everyone said Joe, go into it willing to learn and you will. Get into the major you want. Get a side job in a asian american rest. Im sure theres tons around there with the CIA being right there.

Ive got faith in you, and youll do amazing. I dont dout at all.


Good luck man, keep in touch.
"Some of us Cook. Some of us Grow. All of us Eat."
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"Some of us Cook. Some of us Grow. All of us Eat."
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post #7 of 29
Well, I'm a tech school product myself.
But My chef/instructor was a CIA grad.

Right now, I'm a sous.
My current Chef is...A cia grad.

Waste of time/money? I hardly think so, but then again these fellows are pretty dilligent by nature. Only you can find that within yourself. I have also heard anecdotes locally of the CIA diploma opening doors for people.

I probably wouldn't say it's a good idea to go deeply into debt to do it, but if you can fund it outright, sure, go for it.
post #8 of 29

Formal culinary training

I have over 15 years experience working in professional kitchens. I am 35 years old and have held three different chef positions including the one I currently have. I began an ACF acredited program in January of this year with the designs of testing for three specific certifications that I feel will help me procure employment when my back and knees give out. In short, "papers" are important in the long run. If you have good moves, a great apptitude for learning, and NO ego, you have many opportunities to climb the culinary ladder without having gone to some prestigious school. I think if you are planning on submitting an application to CIA, you need to weigh some things out. It is indeed pricey. Can you get the education at a lessor cost? Yes. Can you get the same attention with paper from another culinary program as you can get if you went to CIA...not likely. Most places oooooze over stuff like that and often offer chef postitions to grads that can't handle it just because of the letters. I don't know what your experience is, but I will say this, most of the ones that try to get into CIA are very green cooks...if established cooks at all. They want the prestige and end up finding later that actually will have to bust their a*s to get it. My advice, do your time. Spend a 4 to 6 years busting your hump in some cool kitchens, then re-assess whether CIA is going to be worth your money.
post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 

thanx

First of all, thanks for the words, Pat. I stand behind you 100% also. thanks for all the words of advice. i have already enrolled in the CIA about 3 months ago, and was just curious if my money was spent wisley. i have decided what many of you hav said. Only I can decide how good i will be... if i have enough drive, determination, and passion, that i can do great things and go great places.
post #10 of 29
Techchef...Already in for three months and you wondering if it was a good decision? I have to call you on this...Why are you now second geussing yourself? Sounds to me like you want the world to know you are are student there...Oh Chr*st! Well, gods speed for whatever becomes of it.
post #11 of 29
In 1982 when I was starting at Northwestern University, I wish someone had told me to go to CIA instead. I'm now an engineer/restaurant consultant learning to chef.

Part of the value of CIA, just like Northwestern, is the name.
post #12 of 29
Just some quick advice/thoughts
I was accepted to both J&W and CIA. I opted for J&W because I hate snow, and my family didn’t want to live in snow either…LOL. I don’t regret my choice a bit.
I struggled with the same question you struggle with as I was entering school. This is what I figured out while in school, and I hope it helps you figure your way out in life.
The French technique and methods will never steer you wrong. When you are presented with something you have never seen before, think about what you already know and apply that cooking method to what you’re newly working with (Advice given to me as a freshman by my chef advisor… and it was stellar advice too, helped me out a couple of times on the job). These methods have been around for centuries, and will be around for centuries. I am personally more partial to new world cuisines, rather than the "classic" cuisines. For me its more about the flavor, presentation, ingredients and style than cooking methods, and I am sure you will find the same. You may also feel like the "classics" don't offer you the creativity that more modern styles or ingredients offer you. But you will find that for the most part the cooking techniques are the same. And don’t discount the classics for creativity either. Look at the modern masters of classic cuisines. They put their own spins on dishes, sauces and/or plating while adhering to the classic recipes and or methods.
As far as education versus experience goes...education will take you only so far, experience will only take you so far. The combination of both will take you anywhere you want to go with virtually no ceiling. And isn't that what you want from and education and the time/sweat we put in gaining experience? The opportunity to do what you want, where and how you want?
I went back and got my degree in my thirties because I was tired of seeing others younger advancing beyond me, due to a degree. Is this always the case? No it isn't; I have met plenty of chef’s that learned it all on the job. But what I learned in school I think these days you can only learn in an apprenticeship or some other type of in depth/personalized training by a chef. People just don’t stay in jobs like they used to, and I would rather get the industry standard in school, than someone’s personalized view of basic recipes/cooking methods. I am not saying one is better than the other across the board, I am just saying there isn’t a specific standard that any one person might teach. At least with school, it is standardized and many times universal approach.
So enjoy the educational experience, it will open many doors for you, but heed the advice of those that have given it here. Don’t expect that when you graduate you can go right into top chef status, it takes real world experience to validate your education. I have seen many folks fresh out of culinary arts school with little or no experience prepping or working breakfast shifts, because they haven’t got the years of experience to back their education. They are frustrated when they graduate because they thought they were going to be executive chefs/sous chefs a month after getting their diploma even though they had no real experience. The people I have known that are the most successful after graduation, didn’t do too much partying in school (some never hurt anyone:lips: ), and instead went straight from class to a job in a kitchen somewhere, not at blockbuster. That way when they graduated they had 2-4 years real experience when they graduated.
Good luck to you my fellow culinarian, and I wish you the very best of success on whatever path you ultimately choose.
Frizbee


Ok…. so I guess my advice wasn’t that quick….LOL...Sorry
Do what you do with passion....the rest will fall into place..
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  ~Rev. Run
Our Lives are not in the laps of gods, but in  the laps of our cooks.
  ~Lin Yutang
Reply
Do what you do with passion....the rest will fall into place..
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  ~Rev. Run
Our Lives are not in the laps of gods, but in  the laps of our cooks.
  ~Lin Yutang
Reply
post #13 of 29
Having a diploma or degree from the CIA deff. gives you a step up over everyone else. And who ever thinks that that is bull doesnt know what they are talking about. Its easy to step into the chef position after working as prep or line at a local resturaunt but when you want to be a chef at a hotell or on a cruise ship or even a personal chef. You HAVE to have a degree from a college for Culinary Arts. Most of the GREAT running well known 5 star rest. are ran by chefs who have gone to college and have their degree for what they are doing in that kitchen.

I think its the right move to go to college if you have the chance. Dont take a chance on not going and not being able to do what you want to do in like at 25 years old.


And for our Chefs at tech, 2 are CIA grads and one is a J&W grad.
"Some of us Cook. Some of us Grow. All of us Eat."
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"Some of us Cook. Some of us Grow. All of us Eat."
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post #14 of 29
Nothing is better than work, practice and experience. In my opinion you can learn the basics WHILE you work. A great knowledge of the basics is the place that innovation comes from. But, again in my opinion, school is a waste of time unless you have the time to waste.
post #15 of 29
And i repsect your opinion, but mine is that thats the understatement of the year.
"Some of us Cook. Some of us Grow. All of us Eat."
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"Some of us Cook. Some of us Grow. All of us Eat."
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post #16 of 29
Actually, you can respect both opinions. School IS important, will give you the fundamentals, but it won't prepare as well for the job of Chef as real experience will.

To date I haven't heard of any schools offering courses in subjects that Chef's use on a dialy basis:

Staff management, basic physcology, motivational tactics

Hotel/Large Institutional politics, how to survive and advance your career even though your boss hates your guts and will do anything, including cooking the books to get you tossed out. Also an introduction to CYA: cover your a**, how to do it with Unions, Labour Boards, Worker's Comp boards, Health Dept's, and your bosses.

Purchasing tactics: Which suppliers to choose, how to negotiate prices, if and how to fratenrnize with sales reps, how to supervise your purchaser, how to detect theft, how to deal with theft (see above course in CYA)

Equipment management. How to ask for needed equipment and get it, how to maintain equipment (especially on a tight or non-existant budget) what to do in when equipment fails, ie refrigeration, how to deal with damageded or vandalized equipment (see CYA w/ Unions)

Foodcosting and Labour costing: How to control your costs, what to do when your superiors demand un-obtainable %'s. Tactics in controlling labour costs (see CYA with Unions/labour boards). How to keep an upperhand with banqueting/catering sales, and why this is important.

Other stuff: How to deal with private life's problems, Dealing with marriage/personal relationships and avoiding depression, bad health, bad mental health, children growing up without you, etc. .

As far as I know, none of these subjects are available in any schools. Yet they are important for survival and advancement if you want to become a Chef. To the best of my knowledge, these subjects are only covered in the School of hard knocks
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #17 of 29
Your right but if he so chooses to get his degree, which he is, and go out into this feild ready to rock it than its all good. There are many ways to go about it, but if you walk into a rest. looking for a job and you have 10 years of working in a professional kitchen and another guy walks in and says i have 6 years working in a professional kitchen and my degree from the Culinary Institue of America, im almost 100% sure they will take the CIA grad over you.

Having your degree looks better. Even if it doesnt mean you know more, having it means you are interested and will go to the highest peak to acheive your goal.

The CIA gives courses on Restaurant Mang.

Its just the way things roll.
"Some of us Cook. Some of us Grow. All of us Eat."
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"Some of us Cook. Some of us Grow. All of us Eat."
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post #18 of 29
O.K. You must be right and I must be wrong. But I'd give my left, uh, kneecap, to be at your first job interview after graduation....
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #19 of 29
I attended J&WU (Charleston) from 1992-1994, I would not trade that for anything, however, as far a learning anything is concernced, well, maybe. You can only get out of something what you put in it. I graduated in the better part of the top of my class(even on the dean's list first year), surprisingly enough though, I really did not learn anything until I was in the field. Getting that degree did get me in the door of Barton Creek Country Club as first line cook, at 19 years of age. From there I went on to be Sous Chef on many upscale restaraunts in Austin, Tx., Including The Driskell Hotel. That lead me to open up 5 restaraunts around central Texas for various people, all before I was 27 years old. So yes, go to school, party your butt off or study your butt off, it should (if you have the culinary touch) have the same outcome. Good Luck to you and all you do!!!!!!!!!
post #20 of 29
I often regret not continuing my schooling but I had to opt out of CIA after my first semester due to finances. I was able to land a job at a top rest. in Yosemite and climbed the ladder there for a year until I made first line cook. I was fortunate in that the chef took me under his wing and helped my career as best he could. Even with this background I have lost jobs to CIA and other prestigious schools' alumni that didn't have half the experience as I did. I recommend that you get your degree and by all means make it CIA. The doors it will open are important in any decision regardless of which cuisine you want to study after graduation. Chef's know when you have attended training that rigorous you have the ability to learn what they have to teach and be an asset to their kitchen as well.
Good luck in you endeavors,
Wil
Eat to Live Live to Cook Cook to Eat
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Eat to Live Live to Cook Cook to Eat
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post #21 of 29
Do not let ANYONE talk you out of going to school. Although it may not teach you all of the on the job tactics, it gave me soooo much knowledge it is unbelievable. And as for not using anything you use in school everyday on the job, I beg to differ. I use what I used in my Skills and Sauces class every single day.
post #22 of 29
Heres the deal, I have nothing against anyone that is going to CIA, but for me, I dont know, I wasnt for it. Great school so please dont rag on me after this comment. I went to Johnson and Wales, and one of the main reasons that I did not chose CIA, was their attitude. And I am not sure how it was now, this was years ago, but when I was shopping schools persay, CIA more or less told you that when you got done with them, you were a Chef. I dont beleive in that and know that it is not true. I hate when people use that word like that. Chef is a name that is earned by years of experience in the industry.
post #23 of 29
Umm err uhhh,

Not to date myself but... The choices today for a culinary education are leaps and bounds ahead of where they were back in my day. We had UW Stout, Cornell, FSU, the CIA or a local JC. The CIA program was antiquated even by the standards of the day and was not only more expensive given the economy but you needed letters of recomondation to even be considered. Stout, FSU and Cornell were all beyond reach as well financially so for me that left the local JC. Luckily I had a great Program administrator and basically it was like attending UW Stout with the curriculum. Unfortunately we lacked facilities that are available there today.

If you have the opportunity to attend any type of formal schooling regarding Culinary Arts you'd be a fool to pass it up. Regardless of graduating or not. Although IMHPO make sure you weigh all the educational institutions you may be surprised. Out of all the CIA graduates I have know, worked for, with and around there is a distinct handful that stand out as a true credit to the school and the rest well I can't say anything bad but can't say anything good either. I have found, again MHPO and also only a handful, NECI and JW graduates prepared for meaningful contribution to an organization. This doesn't mean that there are not more out there I just haven't met them yet.

It's like someone already said... "You only get out of it what you put into it." This is very true but I'd like to expand on that and state remember it's also not always fair.

I have had my fair share of star-eyed culinarians in my charge and so many times I would explain that... There are only so many folks that find the spotlight or even survive long enough to see it. There are far more Chefs out there that have to wash dishes to get thru the shift, shut down a line at close to save labor, or sweep and mop because of the unreliability of the staff... Than there are those that can walk carelessly thru the dining room sharing stories with guests or signing autographs. Ahh to dream. Hehehe

Anyhow there is a reward somewhere out there and it's up to you to make it what it is for you. School will give you the fundimentals and after school will give to the experience and ability to pass on your knowledge. Just be patient and remember a star that burns twice as bright burns twice as fast.

BTW don't limit yourself by not studying French cuisine. There's a good reason most of us studied it and believe me when I say this that it made my ability to prepare all of the other cuisines I have better from the experience. Someday that knowledge will pay off cause you never know when your gonna need to know how to make a liaison, Mousseline or know the definition of Monte' au beurre.

I'm still not sure about what affect having or not having a degree in Culinary Arts has on ones career. I personally didn't finish my scholastic studies yet Iwould consider my accomplisments and failures alike to have provided an education that far exceeds and thing IU would have learned in school. these experiences include the Exec at 5 different operations, Director of Food and Beverage Services for a Senior Retirement community, written or assisted in writting 25 menus and opening (from the ground up or remodels) or revamping over 20 different operations . Because of this I personally would hire people based on certain points. Practical experience, knowledge of fundimentals, execution of fundimentals and where they learned those fundimentals. I learned very early that it was the people around me that defined my success and that I had a responsibility to only help to define the success of the people around me.

Hope some of this helps but I guess this was the long way of saying you can never go wrong with getting an(y) education.

Good luck.
post #24 of 29
Uhh, Jolly, look back on page 2, I've tried to convince the mighty Quinn to look through the trees and see the forest.
Problem is, most people still confuse "Chef" with "Cook", and "Chef's School" is an automatic entry ticket for someone with no previous cooking experience to comand the various kitchens and a brigade of 25 experienced cooks in a 5 star Hotel.

Oh well, I'll pass the buck around and let "Life in General" handle this. It usually does a very good job....
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #25 of 29
Couldnt have said it better myself..
post #26 of 29
Gosh I wish everyone in the WORLD knew and understood this simple and profound fact!
Well said!
Frizbee
Do what you do with passion....the rest will fall into place..
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  ~Rev. Run
Our Lives are not in the laps of gods, but in  the laps of our cooks.
  ~Lin Yutang
Reply
Do what you do with passion....the rest will fall into place..
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  ~Rev. Run
Our Lives are not in the laps of gods, but in  the laps of our cooks.
  ~Lin Yutang
Reply
post #27 of 29
Quinn, do you know who a man named Charlie Trotter is? "Papers" are most important by means of getting your foot in the door with people you don't know and don't know you. SKILLS get you everywhere, baby. Just spent/went in debt for 40 grand to say you a re a CIA grad, but can't handle yourself on a simple line position? 40 grand spent the hard way! Don't be a chump. Bust your hump!
post #28 of 29
Haven't heard from Quinn for a while. Wonder if he's still reading this stuff, or are we just wasting our time?....
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #29 of 29
Foodpump...it's not an entire waste of time is some other horribly uninformed scant happens to read these posts. All the while, food is being prepared for paying customers and no mention of anyone's credentials are flown on a flag. I'm going to go eat a salad of imense proportions and then go to work. Ciao!
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