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Le Cordon Bleu - Ottawa, Canada

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Before I start, I'd like to say: I noticed that there's another Le Cordon Bleu thread under this one, but that one is about short culinary programs and does me no good, unfortunately.

Let me start off by introducing myself- I'm a 14 year old high school sophomore in New York City. I've always loved cooking, and have spent a lot of time in the kitchen both with my mom and without. At this point in my life, cooking is something that I'd love to do for the remainder of it. It's also a feasible dream and a practical career choice (as opposed to my second love- music).

I've done much research on the internet lately to familiarize myself with the industry and learn about various respectable culinary institutes. While I know that choosing the most prestigious institution or "brand name" over a cheaper, lesser-known school of equal quality might be a silly thing to do, the allure of Le Cordon Bleu has drawn me in.

I know that most students at Le Cordon Bleu take year or two-year long programs. However, I'm interested in taking all 3 levels (Beginner, Intermediate, Superior) in both cuisine and pâtisserie, and earning my Grand Diplôme. Since I want to make a career in the culinary arts, this would be the equivalent of a four year college for me (taking all 3 levels in both fields takes approximately three and a half years). I'd be able to take out a student loan to pay for my education.

I was wondering if anyone here has taken a road similar to the one I plan to take, and could offer some insight on the world of culinary arts. I'd really appreciate if someone could let me pick their brain for a bit.

Is this a wise choice? Am I mistaken in any of the the information that I've posted? What do you guys suggest? I'd love to hear from someone with more experience in the field than I.

Thanks in advance for reading this.

Eugene Gurvich
"Now and then we had hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates" - Mark Twain
"Now and then we had hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates" - Mark Twain
post #2 of 12
Hi Eugene. Yes, Le Cordon Bleu certainly does have a respectable name and I'm sure the quality of education is excellent. But you've got the CIA in upstate New York and the ICE (formerly French Culinary Institute) in Manhattan, both in your home state. Both of these institutes have great reputations and high standards, and have turned out some amazing chefs.

If you're worried about money, I'm sure that the community colleges in New York State have credible culinary programs, as well. It's possible that you might be able to take a one-year basics program at one of these colleges and transfer to one of the more "prestigious" institutes for more advanced training.

Good luck!
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
That's just the thing. I don't want to stay in my home state for college. I've lived here all my life, and frankly, I'm bored. I'd love to see the world a bit. Money isn't a problem, since I'll need to take out a student loan no matter where I go. I'd just love to know about LCB in Ottawa in particular.
"Now and then we had hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates" - Mark Twain
"Now and then we had hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates" - Mark Twain
post #4 of 12
I have had the sincere pleasure of working with both the Executive Chef and the Executive Pastry Chef of the "Signatures" restaurant in the Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa School. The Executive Chef (I wish I could remember his name) worked with my restaurant practical class to put together a very elegant menu for the student cafe'. The dish that stood out the most was a very elegant looking "Crab Parfait" based from a gelatin-thickened lobster bisque. I consider both chefs extremely knowledgable and credible. If given the opportunity to work with them again (even for free) I would not think twice about doing it.

While I would not say to go with LCB 100% just yet, (I am unsure what other culinary schools are in the area) I would say to definitely keep them in mind when you decide which school would be best for you to attend.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks! That's exactly what I was looking to hear.
"Now and then we had hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates" - Mark Twain
"Now and then we had hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates" - Mark Twain
post #6 of 12
I missed the part in your previous post where you said you were in the New York City area.

There are very credible culinary schools in the NY area besides the LCB Ottawa. The Culinary Institute of America stands out right away to me (often mentioned on this forum abbreviated as CIA). The CIA is from my understanding, hyped to be the premier culinary school in the US, though I have yet to see the facility to believe it myself.

Right off the back I also found LCB schools in Dover NH, and Pittsburg, PA. Both offer 1 1/2 Associate programs in culinary arts.

While there is nothing wrong with going after LCB certificates, my advice would be to go after a solid degree (Associate, Bachelor, etc.)
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
As I said up there, while I know that there are many great schools in my area, I want to get outta town for college. I'm more than a little tired of this city.

Wait, I assumed that a Grand Diplome from LCB counted as a college degree..
"Now and then we had hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates" - Mark Twain
"Now and then we had hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates" - Mark Twain
post #8 of 12
If I were you I would look into the LCB Grand Diplome' program to see what exactly it is, and exactly what good will it do you on your resume when you want to get a job. Don't assume it is something that it might not be.

I wish you nothing but the best of luck in your endeavors in this industry. Whichever school you end up going to, take it as seriously as you can. I would suggest against making tardiness/absence a habit and settling for passing the class with a C or D. Get the most out of the education that you are going to pay for.
post #9 of 12
Hi again, Ballard. RAS is right - don't assume anything. If something is not called a "Bachelor of..." degree, it's NOT. Just because you'll be attending a school for the same number of years as someone pursuing a university degree, does not mean you'll come out with the same quality of degree. From what I understand, a lot of people make this mistake and find out only after they've completed their programs.

Another school I've heard great things about is Johnson & Wales (in Rhode Island, I believe). I'm pretty sure that they have a bachelor's degree program. Why don't you check it out? RAS's suggestion of having a recognized degree is something you really should consider. If you decide at some point, even during your studies, that the culinary world really isn't where you belong, you'd still have a degree that would lead you into a graduate (Masters) program.

In any case, it's wonderful that at the age of 14, you're so passionate about your goals. Best of luck!
post #10 of 12
I know you had mentioned you wanted to get out of your state for college, but, if it means anything upstate New York is nothing like New York City. It'd be a totally different experience. Probably much like New England.

Plus there's always the allure that CIA is considered possibly THE best culinary school out there.
post #11 of 12
You are very lucky in that you already know what you want and time is definitely on your side. Most people still don't know that when they're in the college years (or beyond!). For all of the jabs it takes, NYC has a solid public school system. You might want to see your guidance counselor and explore the possibility of applying to the closest public school that offers a culinary program. It is not impossible. I know that there are several technical high schools in the 5 boros - some of which offer culinary. Next, start going now to open houses at whichever culinary schools most appeal to you. The CIA and others hold fairly frequent open houses (as do many other schools). I am not pushing the CIA on you (it may very well be the wrong choice for you) - but it is in the beautiful Hudson Valley - a far cry from NYC. Why not aim for at least 2 open houses every 6 months - year? You'll get a good feel for the school AND get out of NYC for the day. Another option after high school would be to work in the industry getting solid experience while at the same time getting a business degree at whatever traditional university you preferred and then attend the culinary program(s) that offer a diploma/certificate. I just spoke to an advisor at the French Culinary Institute
in Manhattan and they invited me to audit a class, take a tour and have lunch with them any day that worked for me - if you contact them I'm sure that they'd welcome you as well. Of course you'd have to take a day off from your regular school :rolleyes: Another program right there in NYC is
If for some reason you decided to stay in NYC for your education and experience at least you'd be stuck in NYC - you may be sick of it but it offers a shameful amount of opportunity to anyone that can stand the heat! If you go to enough culinary program open-houses you'd be able to start a blog on the subject - people would be interested!
Best of luck - enjoy the journey whatever you do.
post #12 of 12
Hi there.

I'd like to offer a perspective based on my experiences in the industry thus far. I'm not a chef, nor am I a student (yet). But apart from a ten year corporate background, I'm currently working in the industry while I attempt to obtain an apprenticeship as a chef. The reason I am not going to a culinary school is because Australia has a well structured and paid four year apprenticeship system during which you attend college one day a week and work the rest in a commercial kitchen under the supervision of its head chef. It's quite rare for Aussies aspiring to be a chef not to undertake an apprenticeship but I do understand that it's a very different scenario in the US.

I am also familiar with the school as they have a branch in Adelaide, South Australia.

With this in mind, before you start spending money you don't yet have and creating a huge debt that will take years for you to get rid of because your first job is working for a pittance (I honestly don't know how Americans survive on US$9 an hour, I really don't), may I suggest that you obtain a job in the industry first while you're still at school. I feel that this should be first and foremost in your mind, to actually check out and experience a commercial kitchen. Find a restaurant that you like and work there for at least three months. Then consider whether that culinary school is what you want to do or, indeed, if it's actually relevant.

As someone who has grown up around the kitchen table, cooking at home and cooking in a commercial kitchen are about as related as oil and water.

Read books. Dornenburg & Page's "Becoming a Chef" is a great start and it's in an American context. Get your mitts on as much information as you can regarding the industry be it magazine articles, chats with chefs and other students, visits to eateries that you like.

If it's one thing I have discovered is that your heart must be on fire to do this. Two out of the eight who started around the same time as me have remained, the others quickly realising that a life in the industry was not for them. Long hours, demanding sometimes violent people, breakneck pace, working weekends...and then the actual work which (particularly as a non tradesperson) you have to master pretty quickly - all add up to a very valuable decision making tool.

As for 'higher education', personally, I don't understand the need to obtain a degree. I feel it's really unnecessary but understand that this reflects the American culture in some respects but, in my opinion, you just don't need one in order to be a good chef. Certainly it's a fallacy that you need a degree to 'fall back on' - there is simply no such safety net in life. In fact, the majority of excellent chefs don't have a degree and just another reason why I love the profession.

At 14, I went through a number of desired jobs. By the time I left school, in which I worked in hospitality during those years, chef was number four on the list. That I have come full circle is a bittersweet revelation - part of me is wistful at having waited so long but the better part knows that the experience I've garnered from other careers in those years has tempered my passion, refined my outlook and toughened me up for the cobbled road that surely lays ahead.

Good luck in whatever you do.
Just don't sign on for that student loan just yet.
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