or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Culinary Schools

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I have recently let a "chef" go who was a culinary school grad.  During our interview, he could tell me how to do something- I have a pet peeve about people who say they can cook but have no idea how to make a white sauce, for instance, but had a good handle on that one.  He interviewed well, and I thought he'd be a good fit personality wise.  There was one problem on his application- he admitted to have worked at a restaurant for 1 week, bt was let go  because he wasn't fast enough.  I thought it was kind of mean to have fired a cook after only a week since it can take longer then that to get up to speed.  Turns out it was for a good reason, after all.

 

Anyway, this culinary school grad could not increase/decrease a recipe, couldn't measure 2 cups in a 4 cup measuring cup, had no idea that 34 ounces was just over 2 pounds NOT just under 1 pound and along the same lines didn't know that 34 ounces of flour plus 14 ounces of butter was 3 pounds, not 2, and couldn't tell the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon.  He said this was because he was used to working in litres.   When I explained that he needed to add 3 to 4 cups of liquid from a gallon container into a bowl of dry  mix, he picked up the gallon and started to pour the milk directly into the bowl!  When I yelled for him to stop, said he thought it was the right amount because I had given it to him in that container.

 

Long story short, I am more upset that a culinary school would graduate someone with such obvious learning disabilities  and allow him to consider himself a chef.  It's unconscionable that they took thousands of dollars- probably leaving him with student loans that he'll be paying back for years when he is no more a chef than I am a brain surgeon.  Before you question why I think this guy was LD, I worked in special ed while my kids were young; he was classic.  I watched him one day mix the dry ingredients then pour in the liquid.  He then got the scoop and scale to begin portioning, but hadn't mixed in the liquid- it was sitting on top of the dry.  He stood there for a good 10 seconds  with the scoop in his hand looking at the bowl with a puzzled look on his face.  Then he reached for the spatula and mixed it up.

 

I feel bad for the kid and hated to burst his baloon...again, but I don't have enough money to keep him on.  Shame on the school! 

post #2 of 19

Having taught culinary in a public school system I can tell you that we were pressured to promote and graduate them. I had people who could not count,or spell but that did not matter. As far as private school scenerio. Not forced to promote, but cost was primary concern. I ws told spend 4 weeks on potatoes and veges(cause it was cheap) Private schoold main concern was overall profit and grants.. I was not by any means a teacher when I started. I had about 30 years in the trade working as a chef. However some of the academics I was teaching with did not know how to bone a chicken or knew nothing of  butchering or cuts of meat. I used to wonder, but then they had the education I only had trade experience, so they sent me to a scholl to learn how to teach. Perhaps they should have sent them to school for trade experience ??

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #3 of 19

Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000105 EndHTML:0000003766 StartFragment:0000001921 EndFragment:0000003730

Hi Lentil,

I am new to this site but having just graduated from LCB in Bangkok

and feel I am in a good position to respond to your article.

Unfortunately there were also students at my school who were very similar

but still ended up with a passing grade, While agreeing with your article as to

How did the student end up passing I must also say that it is not just about learning

difficulties as there were also students getting pass grades who were neither motivated

by or overly interested in cooking, Why they are there in the first place is anybodies guess

but they seemed to bungle their way through and still end up with the same certificate/diploma

as the ones who worked hard,studied and applied themselves.

I am not sure how the schools justify this, whether it is because of the expense in attending

the school or down to a faulty marking system.I don't know.

Whilst at the school you don’t really care too much what anybody else does as you

Try to concentrate on improving your own skills & standards but it does get annoying.

The real stinger though is once you do graduate, even if it is as the top student,

(as is my case) it then proves extremely difficult in getting a start anywhere and

some of the reason behind this is the said students who should never have been

granted a pass in the first place have already been infecting the mind of future

employers by tarring us all with the same brush.I know this from recent personal experience.

The degree of competence varies in all students just as it does in all Chef’s so

Please don’t let this one episode put you off hiring future graduates.

Some of us are fairly competent, conscientious and not just willing but also capable.

post #4 of 19

As with every program... there are A students and there are C students and they all graduate. It is sad that they do not have to graduate with a practical exam. But it is all about numbers. Sad reality is that these schools do not pull in the cream of the crop as far as smart and success minded students. Very few kids get into cooking or restaurant work as a true career. Makes me sad, I feel it is the stigma we have of being servants or hired help... just above housekeepers if we're lucky. What % of the public wants to sign on for that?

 

Raises hand for having signed up for it BTW. :)

post #5 of 19

Have to say this happens often, school means nothing unless they can perform on the floor.

 

 

post #6 of 19

My dad used to say: What do you call the guy that graduated last in medical school?

 

Doctor!

 

 

 

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

Reply

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

Reply
post #7 of 19

I'm a self-taught chef who went from being an entry-level cook working cold food station to executive chef that helped launch two new restaurants. I agree that school means nothing unless you're putting in your own effort. You get out what you put in. I have also terminated a few young kids who are culinary grads. I have seen people without formal training perform better. One thing I find very funny is the job ads that says a degree a must. I went to college for journalism for three years until I had to drop out because of finances although I almost got an internship with the largest newspaper in town. I wasn't trained in a culinary institution but I've outcooked many culinary grad old-school chefs on my worst days. So these people who think  school means everything, they can hire a "chef" that still cooks what I used to cook 10 years ago and progressed from. I'll be creating my next great signature dish and stay away from wasting my talent in unworthy places.

post #8 of 19

I opened a bakeshop in a hotel in Times Square NYC. I was kinda forced to hire culinary graduates. The only ones

who made it were the students taking advantage of their VA benifits. We had 28. Most of them marched in every morning like penguins. very

proper and starched. If I had a dollar for each time I was asked when will we be able to do sugar work.? you know. They would implode if I gave them 250 doz. muffins.

 

I've learned it kind of like people with money or talent. The ones that tell you they can are wasted energy to the ones that don't bragg.

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
Paninicakes.com

Reply

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
Paninicakes.com

Reply
post #9 of 19

I hope and pray that the teachers at my community college aren't being pressured to promote and graduate us.  I want the grade that I have truly earned, not one to placate/satisfy me.  I will say that we are getting taught techniques, but then move on to new ones, and we need to practice them at home or elsewhere until we master then.  Thankfully, though, we at least have practical exams in our cooking classes and I do think that our teachers give us honest comments.  I sure hope so, anyhow.  How else am I going to learn?

post #10 of 19

 

Quote: Nadeest
"we need to practice them at home [...]  How else am I going to learn?"

 

Wow! You said a mouthful there! So many students (not just culinary!) expect to see it and know it! That almost never works. Any technique, from changing oil in one's car to preparing an omelet must be done over and over and over until it is at least acceptable. But, that comes to self-discipline. And let's not go down that path.... that's a whole other ball of yarn. 

 

Author Malcolm Gladwell in The Outliers makes a spectacular case for spending 10,000 hours in our field to become an expert in its content. After 10,000 hours, he says, one usually become proficient, if not expert, at their chosen field. Perfect practice makes perfect, or so the adage goes.

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

Reply

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

Reply
post #11 of 19

I don't know. The fact that I went to a big-name school helped me get in a lot of the doors of really cool places. I had good recommendations, and that helped too. After I got in, all things changed. The big-named school and good recommendations were gone as soon as work started. Nobody cared. I would have been tossed out on my head if I didn't have skills. I got a lot of smarts from school, but I had to do the work on my own to get the skills. I learned a lot of smart stuff to help build my skill set. Without skills you ain'te gonna keep any job with a certificate from anywhere. 

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

Reply

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

Reply
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim View Post
So many students expect to see it and know it!


I was kinda rolling this over in my head the other night.

 

I work with a lot of people who have gone to culinary school.

Specifically, a tech school.

It seems to me that some of the graduates think that they are ready to run a kitchen/bake/chef simply with a degree.

I wonder if it's the same for other tech school professions.  That is, "I just graduated from a plumbing course, so I'm ready to run a plumbing business".

 

I recently heard a GM tell me that a KM told them they had "experience" doing food costing.

This is the KM's first job out of school, so ... the experience came from school. 

That's not experience, it's practice.

 

I took geometry in high school, but I'm not a geometrist. geometrer. geometrecist. geometry scientist. linguist. 

You know what I mean.

 

 

 

post #13 of 19

What's the old saying ? """  A   LITTLE Knowlege is a dangerous thing..""""

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #14 of 19

Iceman, I agree with you 100%... the door can be opened with that diploma/assistance from school. I think that is a HUGE selling point that I explain to my students when considering school. I also agree with you, that once you get in the door, it is on you to prove your worth. Some of those opportunities may not have existed had you not completed school and had that 'key' to get into good operations. And, ultimately, it comes down to what you can do once you get behind the line.

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

Reply

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

Reply
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by left4bread View Post




I was kinda rolling this over in my head the other night.

 

I work with a lot of people who have gone to culinary school.

Specifically, a tech school.

It seems to me that some of the graduates think that they are ready to run a kitchen/bake/chef simply with a degree.

I wonder if it's the same for other tech school professions.  That is, "I just graduated from a plumbing course, so I'm ready to run a plumbing business".

 

I recently heard a GM tell me that a KM told them they had "experience" doing food costing.

This is the KM's first job out of school, so ... the experience came from school. 

That's not experience, it's practice.

 

I took geometry in high school, but I'm not a geometrist. geometrer. geometrecist. geometry scientist. linguist. 

You know what I mean.

 

 

 




I myself graduated from ITT back in 1997 with a degree in Electronics Engineering Technology ... does that make me an engineer? ... ahhh HELL NO!!!!

We were told straight out that what we were learning was the basics and that the real learning/training would be on the job and for the last 15+ years I have worked in the field of electronics more or less with a lot of mechanical work thrown in as well (not counting since December when I got laid off and have been unable to find work since)

 

So for me a degree is very helpful but on the job training is about the best you can get (plus you don't have those god awful loans to repay, lucky for me I had the G.I. Bill to help out)

post #16 of 19

I'm noticing a running theme here, through a number of different threads. I'm going out on a branch here (mere limbs won't hold me very well) and saying that maybe, just maybe, the best culinary schools are in the military services. Highlander01 just mentioned it here and Panini before him. This quote is classic: 

Quote:

The only ones who made it were the students taking advantage of their VA benifits.

Now whereas I didn't do food service in the military, I was still in the NAVY, and learned a serious type of work ethic in that time. Far too many students just getting out of schools with certificates in their hands think FoodNetwork TV is around the corner looking for them, or every *** place needs them to be running the kitchen. It's brutal. Without skills, your cert is only good for wiping up spills. 

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

Reply

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

Reply
post #17 of 19

A couple of thopughts on this.

 

1) The bigger and more famous the school, the tighter the entrance qualifications they have.  They can reject potential students if they feel they won't make their standards.  Many smaller private schools will take anyone who has money.

 

2)As most others say, school doesn't impress me one bit.  I reserve my judgement after watching the person work an 8 hr shift

 

3) Schools have no trade standards to follow.  Each one is different and on their own.  Plumbers, for instance have a State/National plumbing code to follow, same with electricans, gas fitters, and doctors.  

...."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 #18 of 19
Thread Starter 

I understand about the quality of schools and the trade standards.  I hope no one here, especially those who've been to culinary school, took this as an insult.  My complaint was with schools who simply take $$ from these kids who'll never be able to work in a restaurant kitchen.

post #19 of 19

Yup chefedb is absolutley correct. The schools want these programs to show a strong success rate & there is pressure on the Instructors. Some of the smaller programs don't have the facility for students to the practical hands on that is essential. This being said; I have seen some kid's come out of school & they are rock stars. It's all in the individual as to where they take the knowledge that has been handed to them. Some have the impression that it's all applause glitter & glory....they kind of crash when the real world is on the stove in front of them. Too many of these kids end up in positions right out of school, they end up in over their heads that is our fault as employers. We know the years & experience it takes to succeed.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Professional Chefs