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Choose your school carefully! slightly long read

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Greetings,all.

I'm kind of in a slight rant phase today,so humor me.Pardon the lenght,too...i'm rather prolific in my writings!

Anyone going to school,choose it carefully and do some research! As I have posted before,I had been working for nearly 2 decades before I decided I needed to get a diploma [personal accomplishment].Ideally,I would have loved to go to CIA,but moving to NY for a couple of years was not an option...so in my state,Le Cordon Bleu's accelerated program [15 months including externship]seemed the right choice for me.I already knew a good 85% of the curriculum,but there were some things I needed to learn [pastry,costing,Spanish,French].

By the way,do NOT do an accelerated program unless you have previous experience,because it's not enough training for a novice.A three month class condensed into 21 days will not teach you all you need to know.Show up every day and you pass with an "A",regardless of the fact that you may have failed all tests,quizzes and did a half-assed mystery basket final.Attendance is 90% of your grade,and that's appalling! I knew Honor's students who by graduation that still could not identify simple herbs and spices...what the f**k?! Made me wonder how much my degree was worth.

But you get out of school what you put into it.

I found out very quickly that culinary schools are a business.Tuition pays salaries and keeps the doors open and if you qualify for a loan,you're in like Flynn;the admin people get commission for evey new person they sign up.There are no requirements such as previous back-of-house experience [even the CIA lifted their rule];they just make you feel special with the B.S "preliminary interveiw" and then the call a few days later to say "You've been accepted!" Uh,yeah...because my credit rating was good.

My class was VERY young,17-22...and out of 40 of us,only two of us were above 30 and had over a decade in the industry.It was beyond frustrating.It was high school with a demo kitchen.I know not all people in that age range are immature,but these kids seemed to have no concept of responsibility or work ethics.If you can't show up for what you're paying for,how can you be expected to show up for what you're BEING paid for? And leave the **** cell phone in the car!

What killed me was how the instructors were so limited in how they could treat students,in other words,it was all hand-holding and babying.I was told directly that the school "had to treat us nicely and not like it was a real job" because we were "customers".I expected discipline and structure,but an instructor didn't even have the authority to remove a student from class because of insolence or simply because they had no reason to be there because they didn't care or put in some effort.Those kids were in for a real shock once they got an actual job,lemme tell you!

But that's why less than 10% of grads still work in the industry 5 years after they get out of school.Reality crashes down.

I had one guy in class that was functionally illiterate.It was no secret to the class,but how the **** does the school let someone in who CAN'T READ???! Good God,how was this person realistically going to work in a kitchen? But they couldn't do anything about it because then you get into lawsuit territory.

Another girl had such an allergy to seafood that she had to wear a face mask and suit to even be in a butchering class...what the **** was she doing wanting to COOK for if her allergy was literally life and death? Oh,the chick in the HAZMAT suit? Oh,she's the new extern...nice,huh?
But she could not be turned away because she could have sued the school if they refused her application.

And you know where she wanted to extern? Hawaii...was she on crack?!

I was one of those students who was asked to "help guide" the others because of my experience.I did it out of respect for my instructors [and because they treated me as a peer;not as a student.During school,I was a partner/sous chef at a catering company],but I wasn't being PAID to guide people who did not care.I'll teach anyone anything,as long as you WANT TO LEARN!

Only once did I manage to offend the entire class in one sentance,and I still laugh about it now:

LCB has a restaurant on site and is open for lunch and dinner,but only for 2 1/2 hours per each service and ONLY 50 people per service.It's done that way to ease people into being on a line and daily prep.

Well,the instructor asked how we felt the school restaurant compared to real life and I said [without even thinking] "Are you kidding? This is like a really slow day at work where half of us would be sent home to save labor hours! I've done 300 covers in two hours with a four-man line!"

I had people yelling at me that I had no idea what I was talking about....but it was funny as **** to watch six people per station with a whopping four tickets up and all of them acting like monkeys humping a football.

But funny thing is,I've been asked back to the school three times to talk to classes right before they go out on externships.It's fun to see the color drain from their faces when I tell some war stories...:)

So,in closing,if you want to go to school,make sure you really want to be there and choose carefully [and within your means.It ain't cheap!].Treat each class like you were at work and take advantage of any and all competitions,mystery baskets and special workshops.Ask a million questions and pay attention to the stronger students in class,because they may have some tricks to teach.
And realize school is a vacation compared to work!

Okay,I'm done!
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #2 of 13
We all need to vent sometime, and believe me, I feel you.

I also attended a LCB accelerated program (with minimal previous experience). While I would agree with you on alot of points, it wasnt bad, I just made the most out of what I could with the education.

Our classes were overfilled with 17 yr old fresh-out-of-highschool students that did the minimal amount of work and were happy to get a C or D.

The instructors, though, were the saving point of the school. I felt them very knowledgeable and easy to approach. I dont know about having to be nice to the students though, these chefs ripped and tore into the kids if it was the only way to get to them.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
We had some very good instructors,too [I still keep in touch with a few]...but some that you knew were there because it was a daytime gig and there was little or no real work involved.You knew they had major burn-out.

I was asked if I would be interested in teaching,but the idea of saying the same thing every 21 days to a group of kids was not appealing:) Yeah,there are some exceptional individuals out there,but it's a small %.
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
Reply
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #4 of 13
I feel your pain.

im dealing with that now. Im in school while granted my culinary expereince other then my own kitchen was a few days a buddy hooked me up with working in a returant on the line and doing a few things jsut to geta feel. I would have loved to have conitnue there but I alreayd work full time and the owner couldnt give me hte hours nad I didnt want to take someones away.

I am lucky i got teachers who are strict and demand the best. then there are some that just dont care. I had the hardest chef for my first quater and im happy. a few people dropped out and then alot stayed. the ones who stayed really show they have the work ethic and want to be there.

just last week my pastry chef was like line up and show me your home work. about half the class didnt have any home work and he said ok. good bye go home.
post #5 of 13
lol that is so sad. I guess i got lucky in picking my school becaue i completely went there on a whim not thinking i would get in and yeah they had me do the little paper questionaire to determine if i knew anything at all about food. But once i got into class... oh my god i loooved it becasue the chef instructors demanded the best of us and they did not let us off easyly and neither was there any type of babying. my class was also a more mature class. some of us were changing careers and the age range was mainly 30 to 50. we had only one 19 year old in the class.

i loved school
post #6 of 13
I hope every prospective student reads your post. My personal opinion is that most of these alleged culinary schools do a disservice to their students.

I cannot quantify the number of times I've heard a young cook tell me that he learned more in two weeks working in a commercial kitchen than in two years in culinary school.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
RSteve,

Speaking of disservice,don't get me started on the three instructors who were fired in one year for sexual harrassment and/or being stupid enough to sleep with students [the ones who were young enough to be talked into it!]....so much for "leading by example",eh?:rolleyes:
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
Reply
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
Reply
post #8 of 13
I've got to be honest, here. A close friend taught at LCB for several years. He's a classically trained French chef and magnificent baker. He's owned and operated both restaurants and bakeries. He admits that he took the job at LCB simply for the daytime hours and benefit package. He's admitted many times the moral dilemma he faces in the classroom, knowing full well that 90% of the students he teaches will be in another vocational field within a couple of years. He says what bothers him more than the 17 to 22 year olds are 40+ year olds who are looking for a career change, but have no idea what hard labor food service entails. Many have mortgaged their homes and jeopardized their family stability to chase a hobby into becoming a career that they really know nothing about.

He spoke about one fellow who gave up a career as a lawyer because he enjoyed cooking and thought being a chef would be more fun. Six months after this guy was out of school and jobless, he was seen back at LCB threatening to sue for false advertising and breach of contract.

Anyone who goes to a culinary school before working in the industry for a couple of years is making a serious mistake. Truthfully, when I was an employer, prior to my retirement, I was far more concerned with an applicant's work experience than their "trade school" training.
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
RSteve,
I have often thought of teaching also for the same reasons your friend did,and also have serious reservations because of the quality of student that seems to be out there.
I would hate to be teaching a class where a precious few are taking me seriously,or the overall committment to the industry.Yes,it would be nice to have a secure [well,rumor has it our LCB may possibly be closed within the next couple of years] position with all the bells and whistles and daytime hours,but at what cost to my sanity?
And I understand completely about the over 40 students/career changers! Everyone has a right to pursue a dream,but if that dream is so beyond what a person is actually capable of,then why are you doing it?
The saying may be "You can accomplish anything you set your mind to" is not always true.I could not be an expert in quantum physics no matter how hard I studied because I am not meant to do it!
I had a 65 year old retired man in my class who was the perfunctory know-it-all;you know the kind: memorize information and regurgitate it,but no COMMON SENSE and he had no business in the kitchen...but the V.A. paid his bill,so he was in.
Two other career-changers dropped out halfway through the program because it dawned on them that this was a difficult profession.Good God,do people not do research before investing a lot of money? It just stuns me.
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
Reply
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
Reply
post #10 of 13

Right On!!!!

O my god where were you when I started culinary school!!!! I read your post and it was like hearing myself speak- I am also a "non-traditional" student with 20+ years of experience under my belt (started in the biz at 15). However, I do not have great technical skills, mostly management and organization, so went back to school to develop those skills. I went for my "interview" with an admissions counselor, and he made it seem like a big deal that I had been accepted (yes, my biggest strength was indeed my credit rating!). My FIRST DAY I was appalled at the behavior that was tolerated from students, the outright disrespect of the instructors, ringing (and answered!!!) cell phones, etc. and could not for the life of me fathom why they were not asked to leave the class. Then there are the 23-year-olds who think they know it all, becuase, after all, they've "been chefs for the past 4 years". Talk about a crack habit! And the young lady who was allowed to fail/ retake (and re-pay for to the tune of $1600) Culinary 101 no less than 7 times .I could go on and on about the outrageous incidents that have occurred in the past 8 months, but want to stay on point. YES YES YES consider your options carefully when deciding on a school, and don't spend one red cent until you've worked, hard, in a busy kitchen. I also knew a woman who was independently wealthy and decided that she wanted to own her own restaurant. Great GPA, but needless to say, she is no longer in the program, and school is nothing compared to getting your butt kicked on a busy Saturday night, especially when things aren't going so smoothly! I haven't gotten to the Restaurant Practical yet (we have a working restaurant), and it was interesting to read your assessment of your own experience. Thank you for the insights, and your advice is absolutely right on!!!
post #11 of 13
one of the biggest things that get me is people who come and get c's and B's but they could earn all A's and b's if they worked hard. And they are cocky people who think there great with no restaurant experence and think they will be a sous chef within a couple years on only work 40 hours a week. And then theres the people who can take a test but couldnt braise an item even when looking at a recipe. Also one of the biggest things that gets me are the people who went to votech in high school and then come in with the attitude that there better than everyone else and they walk around kitchen bossing people around like there the chef. I think there should be a prerequisite to being accepted in a culinary program making you work in a restaurant for a certain amount of time before being able to come to school, but then again if they did the 85 people left in my culinary class only about 40 would still able to attend.
post #12 of 13
I agree with you adamm ut resturant expereince doesnt nessicarrily mean that they will be hard working and all that.

I myself basiclly have no real world culinary expereicne other then a few days I did doubles a 2 different resturants for a few weekend to get a taste of the business. While I knew it wasnt much but it was a small glimpse into what I would be in for. I would love to be younger or have the finacial freedom to quit my job and work in a resturant while attending school.

Actually If i could I never would have gone to school I would have worked my way up whcih I think is the best way.

I do know what you mean. While do get A's on my written tests and I do get A's on the practical part. I do not act like im all mghty or I know anymore. While I do help my fellow students if they are having trouble or If i can give them littel tips they could use I dont hold it against them. Im not a know it all and I dont know everything. I think I barely know anything at all. While there are people who can school me on product knowledge and people who can fab a chicken faster then I can, I dont let them get me down.

Everyone has to deal wit hthe unmotiviated people, the going threw the motions people, the kids (yeah kids the fresh out of high school still working part time and no bills kids), and the almighty Im better then you people.

What most school should do is take the admissions process seriously. but its all abotu the buck so that would never happen. ITs all about we want your money and dont give a darn if you drop out 1/4 of the way threw or if you complete the schooling and never work a day in the feild.

The people with drive and passion will show and will shine threw. this is only a breif time in most peoples lives. Tahnk god for that.
post #13 of 13
I walked into my first job interview really arrogant. The Chef gave me a REAL written test and black box that immediately shattered my illusion world of "Stand back, I know it all, I went to culinary school".
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