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French Culinary Institute

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I talked about this briefly in a previous thread but I thought it deserved its own. I've been accepted to the Johnson and Wales Garnish Your Degree program which is an accelerated culinary program in which you receive your associates degree in one year. Today I visited the French Culinary Institute in NY and I was very impressed. I went there with a pessimistic attitude because it's a certificate program and they seem pretty "showy." But after taking the tour and getting an in depth look at what the program consists of, I'm starting to lean heavily towards FCI. I know that they are trying to sell it to you and its the recruiters job to wow you, but if it was all an act they definitely fooled me.

 

Has anybody here done their classic culinary program? I've been told by a couple of people to do JWU because your getting a degree and actually proving you learned the material, but I have a bachelors degree already so the general credit requirements don't apply to me. Also, at FCI you have to take a midterm and final and it doesn't have a 100% graduation rate, showing that they don't just pass anybody that pays the tuition. If anybody has any first hand experience of the school I'd like to hear your thoughts. Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 16

I'm currently attending the classic culinary 6 month program at FCI and I have to say that I love it. The program is very intensive and costly, but you get great training not to mention all of the opportunities that you can get through the school. There is a very strict attendance policy so plan on literally devoting 6 months to the program. No taking a Monday off bc you're tired lol, not if you care at all about your grade. And you are right about not everyone graduating just bc they paid the money. You have to really put in the work and effort. There are 6 levels, starting from basics to working in the school's restaurant L'ecole at the end.

 

We are currently in level 3 of the program and I know 5 people (out of 21 current students) already have internships. I'm actually going on my first trail tomorrow to see if it will turn into an internship. I also have volunteered at the Tribeca Food and Film Fest this past weekend, and also Jacques Pepin's tribute dinner a few weeks ago. If you stay on top of the "bulletin board" you can get your foot into many doors. Plus, the people who work at the school are super friendly and want you to succeed, it feels evident.

 

Of course there are some annoying things, but thats with anything I guess. But I have to say going to FCI seems to have been the best decision I have made. I also have a bachelor's degree and did not want to put in more time just going to school. And frankly, if you put in the time, the effort and of course have some skill, it seems you can really make it places in culinary without an associate's or bachelor's degree in the art.

 

 

 

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Cool, that's great to hear. And yea, I don't think having a degree in the culinary field really means much. All it means is that you took general education credits, and we both already have plenty of that.

How do you feel about how quickly the program progresses? My only worry is that I may struggle in one area and then move on and have that affect me the rest of the program. I'm also still debating on whether I want to do culinary or pastry but I'll figure it out.


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post #4 of 16

Not to sound shallow, but Anthony Bourdain (who thinks 99% of culinary schools are a big waste of money) approves the school. That's all I need to know!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbfap8MPvmg

 

post #5 of 16

Say hello to Chef Andre Soltner for me, he was one of the best. We had tables near each other at numerous culinary arts displays at the NY Colisium Hotel shows back in the 60s and 70s.

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...

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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 #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baker Boy100 View Post

Not to sound shallow, but Anthony Bourdain (who thinks 99% of culinary schools are a big waste of money) approves the school. That's all I need to know!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbfap8MPvmg


Yea I'm sure the school pays him nothing to advocate the school lol. Anthony is very open about having no shame in whoring himself out to whoever will give him a buck.


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post #7 of 16

@ Whiz: Actually, no! I've been reading his new book 'Medium Rare' and he openly advocates against culinary schools (for most people) and selling yourself out for money, which these new age celebrity chefs do on a regular basis. He talks about how he hates people like Rachael Ray or Bobble Flay who will sell out for a buck.

 

Anthony is a very blunt person and he very crudely admits that everyone has their price, but he repeats a lot that he just feels yucky when he compromises his values for money. He talked about a fast food chain that was wanting to use him for a marketing campaign. All they wanted was for a few TV commercials and his name, but he writes in the book that even stooping to that level hurts his credibility and honesty in an age of celebrity chefs who have the god awful idea to even promote chains like Dunkin Donuts.

 

But, don't take my word. Read his books and watch some of his shows. Even though he is a very crude and blunt person, he is always worried about compromising his values for money. For that I do trust his word.

 

You should read this article of his....

 

http://ruhlman.com/2010/09/so-you-wanna-be-a-chef%E2%80%94-by-bourdain-2/

post #8 of 16

Whiz: I don't if Anthony Bourdain is for or against FCI, (I know he HATES food network lol) but I DO know that he visits there somewhat often. I've only been there 3 months and I know he's been there twice. I haven't seen him though, but I plan to! His hand prints are on "the wall" too lol. The school also holds demos 2-3 days a week featuring Jacques Pepin and Jacques Torres to, the head of Food Network's kitchens. It can be pretty cool! 

 

One thing I would say is that I wish I did the night program now that I know how everything will go. It will give you more time to volunteer, do trails/internships and just give you more time at the school. Right now, I'm just exhausted and wish I could have more time for the extra-curricular culinary things, and more time for myself too. 

 

Concerning it being the fast-track, we do move a bit fast in the first 2 levels, new recipes everyday. Level 3 is more about repetition and teamwork. Level 4 you do the family meal for the school and Levels 5 and 6 you work for Lecole in some capacity. If you ever feel uneasy about techniques (and I have) not only do most of the teachers want to show you how to do it right and will make sure you get it down, FCI also holds workshops on knife skills, food costing, pastry tutorials.. basically anything that they teach, there is a tutorial! That is also another reason I wish I took the day program, more time to go to those as well. 

 

Most days, the bread kitchen leaves speed racks of fresh bread for the school to take. Not a deal maker, but it is a nice perk. ;) Also, I'd "like" FCI on FaceBook, they sometimes offer cool things to prospective students.

 

 

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
^^^ It's cool hearing you praise things that I saw on the tour because those were the things that attracted me as well. The recruiter was actually pushing the night class because of the same reasons and they are lowering the price on many of them so I could save about 10 grand.


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post #10 of 16

Hi everyone,

 

I'm currently considering a career switch and I am very interested in studying at FCI. So far, all the information I've read above has been really helpful but I haven't found any information on how many students are accepted per session and what are the chances of getting in. I've heard that for some of the renowned schools like FCI and CIA there are waiting lists to get in. My concern is that they may not have enough capacity to accept all students who meet their requirements... Have any of you who have attended FCI had any difficulty entering the program or heard of others being put on waiting lists?

 

Regarding day time vs night time classes, it seems like the concensus is that night classes give you more opportunity to network with chefs and gain internships. However, if you enroll in night time classes and feel that day time classes are better suited to you, is there a possibility to make this switch?

 

Also, is there anyone here that is from a different country who has attended FCI? I'm from Montreal, Quebec and was wondering if anyone has some insight into the process of studying and working in the States...

 

Thanks for you help!

post #11 of 16

Just out of curiosity, what does the FCI cost?.... Ball park figure.

post #12 of 16

Depending on which program you take, I believe it's anywhere between $33,000 and $47,000...based on info from their website. Tuition includes application fee, uniform, equipment and books & supplies.

post #13 of 16

That's a lot of money to spend on a piece of paper, then trying to pay it back on a $10-12 hr job.

post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefbuba View Post

That's a lot of money to spend on a piece of paper, then trying to pay it back on a $10-12 hr job.


I'm only considering the program because I can pay it in cash. I would not take out a loan for this and the program would not be a consideration if that was the case.


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post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiz View Post


I'm only considering the program because I can pay it in cash. I would not take out a loan for this and the program would not be a consideration if that was the case.
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If you have the cash, give serious consideration to alternatives such as apprenticeships, you have the money to live on, even if you have to work for free. Look to community colleges for the sanitation, nutrition, and basic skills and get the real knowledge from practicing good and superior cooks.
 

 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
post #16 of 16

Give Me , Pete ,or Bubba  $20,000. and you can come to our houses or restaurants and will teach you all you need to know, plus what they can't teach you.

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
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