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Culinary Institute

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm an instructor at a culinary institute on the west coast. I've been instructing here for almost 2 years now. I recently found these forums because I think it's important to find information wherever possible, and the threads here seem to be very helpful.

A question to those of you owners/operators, chefs and even to those who work in kitchens; what are the biggest challenges you are faced with when hiring / working with culinary school externs, or people who have just graduated from a culinary school? What are the positive aspects?

I'm looking to see how I can be more effective as an instructor, because you can never know it all, and I'm sure that some of you have some great input on this matter. The goal of this post is to get information to try and additionally educate my students.

I can't post the name or location of the culinary institute I work for because of privacy issues, so I hope you all won't hold that against me and understand that it's just part of the policy... :( Perhaps if I move on from this place I will be able to share more information.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to get some good feedback from this community.

Thank you,

LeCuisson.
post #2 of 16
Challanges:

" What?!!! "x"$ per hour!!! You can't be serious. How am I going to pay off my student loans and car payments and rent with that kind of money?

"That's not the way we learned it at school. Your way must be wrong..."

"Whaddya mean I gotta clean pots, pans, and bowls?"

"Multi-tasking? In a kitchen?"


Positive aspects:

"Yes, Chef"

"Anyway you could work in a few extra shifts for me? Doesn't matter what station or what shift.."

"That's a pretty neat way of doing it. It's a lot faster and less work than how we learned it, and it makes sense when you combine this prep with other things"

" I don't get it. You removed all the silverskin and gristle from a raw top round roast, then lay fat back on it and truss it up before roasting it. Why?"

"Thanks for the tip Chef. Your buddy at Restaurant "X" says it's 2 shifts per week and will enventually lead to full time when the cook goes on maternity leave."



Everyone's different. I've had excellent working relationships and nightmares with students from both private schools and Community Colleges.
...."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 #3 of 16
the most negative is that a lot of students expect to immediately be in a supervisory role, and they are still just children really.
right now i have one from germany and one from india, and i can't tell if it's cultural or individual or a mix, but they seem to expect more back for the little they put in to it. like we can hand them their career on a silver platter just because mummy and daddy paid for their education. (and i'm a culinary school grad myself, this isn't a bitter school-of-hard-knocks person talking!)
they tend to look down on people who have worked their way into the kitchen with no culinary education, although those people will typically work harder and be more loyal- they want steady, good employment, and students and recent graduates with little work experience have stars and dollar signs in their eyes.
the positive- they are more interested in learning new things than the typical employee, who sees a change in their routine to be a disruption, no matter that the presentation is better or the guest is happier.
post #4 of 16
I was discussing this in the Professional Pastry Chef forum but I will say it here as well. I think any school who's tuition is not relative to the industry average for income is a rip-off.
From the information I have gathered from school reps LCB and AI are a lot like ITT and DEVRY. Nothing in their coursework is transferable to a college or university so my $33K is worthless once I leave the doors.

Oh but wait...I have a valuable resource in the school.

I don't want to hijack your thread just wanted to add that for info.
~TableBread
I can almost always be found in the kitchen, everything else can be found here: http://tablebread.blogspot.com
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~TableBread
I can almost always be found in the kitchen, everything else can be found here: http://tablebread.blogspot.com
Reply
post #5 of 16
Maybe you could teach all students that going to cooking school does not make you a Chef, the trade certification designates them as cooks. Only experience will earn you the respect required to be referred to as Chef.
Just my opinion though....
post #6 of 16
The one BIG thing I like about Culinary students is most have the passion. However diva like thier attitudes and goals might be at least they have goals. They go home and read about food, and take in interest in the history and traditions of what is being done. These people are always ready to take on extra responsibility or a special project. When I get bogged down with the running of the business it their enthusiasm that reminds me why I am here.

I guess if had to pick my top three gripes they would be:

1. Students know how to cook but they don't know how to work in industry. How to move FAST,be efficiant, to have restless energy, to work under time preasure, the volume, the hours, the physical aspect of being on your feet, cutting yourself, burning yourself, having a cold, or a headache and still dragging yourself to work another 12 hours on your feet. That holidays and summers are busy for restaurants and I don't care if your freinds are taking a road trip or your mommy and daddy want you to come home for Christmas.

2. Standards. I find so, many students come right out of their small towns and into culinary school. What they do at school is the best food they have ever tasted. On a cooks salary one cannot afford eating in top restaurants. So they have a hard time setting high expectations for taste and flavor. Presentation grows because there are plenty of visual examples. Culinary schools should really find a way to expose students to high level of food as customers. When they experience what customers do they are better able to recreate and top those experiences.

3. Learn how to write a friggin resume, cover letter, and dress for an interview. Ok, I don't like people in suits, (I start to fear they don't know how to get dirty) but some kahkis and nice shirt would hlep,not a T and flip-flops. Honestly don't bulk the resume with your obscure interests (like crop circles and rainbows) or with a job objective from when you were still looking for forestry work. Use spell check.

4. Food Cost! Food Cost! Food Cost!, (Oh yeah and labor cost did I meniton MOVE IT). Please before you pick up a 12" Japanese ceramic knife, learn to use a spatula, or bowl scraper, learn to rotate produce and product before it rots. Use all the vegetable not just the pretty parts.

5. I don't care what your x-box tells you or how many freinds you have on myspace or what the army recruitments ads say -you are not the hero in this kitchen. It takes all of us working together and doing our jobs and showing up on time to make this place run.
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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post #7 of 16
As a CIA grad, I've been dying, DYING for some or any instructor at ANY culinary school to pose this question to me, and after reading the posts, I am not alone in my thinking. Many of the students I see come in, just after graduation expecting a management position. This is why I've gone almost strictly to ACF apprenticeship programs, because these students come in knowing their place. They are there to learn.

Maybe I take it personally, because I spent 5 years on the line after graduation before my first Exec Chef gig. And it wasn't the time I spent there that bothered me, it was the attitude of the guys on the line with me who thought they should have their own kitchens although they couldn't flip an egg, forgot to season food or worked like a walking disaster area.

I think instructors need to spend more time explaining that they are only laying a groundwork for a career in a field that is ever changing, and the real education starts AFTER graduation.

Thank you for asking this question and allowing me to remove it from my "List of thing to do before I die!" list.
post #8 of 16
Then why is it so expensive? :confused:
~TableBread
I can almost always be found in the kitchen, everything else can be found here: http://tablebread.blogspot.com
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~TableBread
I can almost always be found in the kitchen, everything else can be found here: http://tablebread.blogspot.com
Reply
post #9 of 16
It's alot of ground in that 'groundwork.'
post #10 of 16
diddo to what has been said already. not much more to say, speed tests at school.
post #11 of 16
Ah c'mon Tablebread, we've been through that. Yes, school-- teacher's and admin salaries, overhead and ingredients are expensive, but it's the private schools that gouge. In addition to the above mentioned costs, the private schools have elaborate advertising fees and must share a fair chunk of change with the recruiters when they get a "hit".
...."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"......
Reply
post #12 of 16
Oops, wrong quote. Meant to get the "why is it so expensive? " quote. Sorry.
...."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"......
Reply
post #13 of 16
Ok, I'll let it go. I guess I am just so disappointed because that limits my ability to go :( but you are right no need to beat a dead horse. :cry:
~TableBread
I can almost always be found in the kitchen, everything else can be found here: http://tablebread.blogspot.com
Reply
~TableBread
I can almost always be found in the kitchen, everything else can be found here: http://tablebread.blogspot.com
Reply
post #14 of 16
TableBread,
If you're serious about it, I push all the young cooks looking to get an education to look into the ACF apprenticeship program. I graduated from a large culinary school and if I was doing it again today, I would go ACF. Lots of info on the website Home.

Good Luck
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks all for the comments and input. I greatly appreciate it.
post #16 of 16
I just love how some externs think its ok to come in 15 minutes late consistently. Covering a dirty, wrinkled uniform with an apron does not fool anybody.
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