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First time here, is it worth going for all 4 years, which is the "best," Help a junior pick his...

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi everybody. All the articles I look up about culinary school is pretty much outdated and I've been using collegeprowler to get a view of the different schools i'm planning to apply to. My main focus right now is primarily the CIA and to be honest, no other college really catches my eye. Would it be wise to go for maybe 1-2 years and try getting a job in a restaurant?

 

 

Bit of backstory, I know that cooking is NOT easy at all but I've loved cooking ever since I was 9! It will be tough and getting a job during this economy will be not much easier. I'm not very good at anything else so I am very dedicated to becoming the best cook and hopefully make something of myself one day.

 

This is what I know of the schools I've checked out so far. CiA- most reviews are positive, main complaints are that schedules are not picked but set classes, credit transfers do not really happen, it is definitely worth it as long as you put in equal amounts of effort, and I will be closer to my sister because she goes to Columbia.

FCI: Have not read much about it. i want to diversify and pick which type of cooking I want to specialize in later.

 

Johnson and Wales: Not in NYC, I think the CIA would be a better choice, and prices are around the same.

 

LCB: Seems too mainstream(?) They try to advertise their college a tad much and it does not seem as good a college as it used to be!

Looking from what I've wrote down, I think I will apply to these schools just to fulfill my requirements but in the end pick CIA as my culinary dream school! I think I could get used to the set classes the more time I spend there.

 

Random but important question: Is France still a large culinary influence? I would LOVE to go there someday and be apprenticed. 

 

Ooops! Forgot one more question :( 

Wouldn't it be extremely hard to actually be a apprentice during this day and age? Everyone should go to college, get their degree and then find a job instead of "I'll go talk to this guy and I'd become his apprentice, then I'll be successful without going to culinary school!"

post #2 of 16
Im kinda im the same boat as you, i have been looking at culinary schools like crazy such as Johnson and Whales in Providence, Rhode Island, and the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Im with you when i say the CIA is my dream school!! But at the same time, i'd really like going to an actual university so i can take a few classes outside of cooking, so i keep going back to Johnsonn and Whales.
I, personally want to get my bachelors instead of my associates, but thats just me. If you just want to get your associates, thats your own choice and no one can make that decision for you. Its just another decision you need to figure out when deciding what college/vocational school you want to go.
France has a very large culinary influence, we use alot of their techniques when cooking, so i think you could easily find a school that would have you travel there, especially if that is the type of cuisine you wish to learn. I think i saw a page onthe CIA's website that shows the courses and i think i saw it say that they have you go to either California, China, Italy, or some other international place to learn about wine. It may very well be France.
I dont know alot about apprenticeships. I know that the CIA has you externship i think for a semester, they help you find the place you want to externship at also. Im with you about the whole having someone apprentice you, i think that you shouldnt try and dive straight into trying to be all succesful, and expect them to teach you everything about cooking. And dont get me wrong, there are many chefs that have had a chef take them under their wing and have become amazing chefs, but to do that just because you're too lazy to go to school for a few more years is, in my opinion, stupid.
Also, there alot of people that, for instance, if they had an opening in a restaurant, and the two top applications they had were someone fresh out of culinary school, and and the other was of someone that had not gone to culinary school but had ten years working in a kitchen, many people would pick the one right out of culinary school, because they know that they have learned the correct techniques and stuff, wheras someone that was self taught or whatever, may have not been doing the techniques correctly. Hell, i have learned many techniques by watching the foodnetwork for instance, but who knows, i may not be doing those techniques correctly.
I hope i have helped you just a little with my comment:)
~Jme~
post #3 of 16

Again I don't care what school you go to. It is not the school it is YOU that determines the outcome of whatever YOU do. What you put in is what you get out.  As far as apprentice  Walk into e restaurant see the chef tell him or her You are going to school and want to learn and would be willing to work for him for nothing. See what happens? Good Luck

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 #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mizzjme View Post
Also, there alot of people that, for instance, if they had an opening in a restaurant, and the two top applications they had were someone fresh out of culinary school, and and the other was of someone that had not gone to culinary school but had ten years working in a kitchen, many people would pick the one right out of culinary school, because they know that they have learned the correct techniques and stuff, wheras someone that was self taught or whatever, may have not been doing the techniques correctly.

 

That is not necessarily reflective of my hiring practices. Way too many variables in hiring, I always judge situations and applicants individually and stay away from blanket judgements.

 

As a side bar, someone who has been in the industry for 10 years wouldn't be self taught. Someone has been teaching them. If hired and tweaking needs to be done to insure that correct techniques and stuff are practised, that is easily accomplished. I usually find that to be the case anyway, whether the person is a graduate of culinary school or not, because usually there is more than one correct way to do things, just check this out.http://www.cheftalk.com/t/61187/hollandaise-sauce-question What I need is that they get the end result (AKA correct) that I want.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mizzjme View Post

...Also, there alot of people that, for instance, if they had an opening in a restaurant, and the two top applications they had were someone fresh out of culinary school, and and the other was of someone that had not gone to culinary school but had ten years working in a kitchen, many people would pick the one right out of culinary school, because they know that they have learned the correct techniques and stuff, wheras someone that was self taught or whatever, may have not been doing the techniques correctly. ...

As a restaurant owner/chef, I'm going to disagree with the above.

 

1)A culinary school graduate has learned the technique taught at that school, not necessarily the correct technique nor the technique I am looking for. wink.gif

 

2)One that has 10 years experience generally demonstrates they can adapt and tolerate the conditions in a commercial kitchen, have a work ethic, and understand who is the boss.

 

3)Unless a culinary school graduate has at least 1-2 years work experience, there is no assurance they have the ability to adapt to a commercial kitchen, have a work ethic, nor understand the concept of working for a boss.

 

4)I can teach the techniques I need, I cannot teach the ability to tolerate the conditions of a commercial kitchen, the need for a work ethic, or the need to grasp the concept of a boss.

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
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post #6 of 16

I don't know where you got this misconception from. I for one would pick the fellow with practical experience . I have had the STARS out of Culinary School and 3/4 of them  knew nothing and were lazy to boot. They felt as though with culinary school background they deserved special consideration.

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 #7 of 16

I'm not knocking school either...but a lot of the culinary kids think that because they went to school, they're better than those who didn't.  I didn't go to school.  I broke my back and learned by doing things when it mattered, when it wasn't OK if I messed something up.  I've fired many a culinary school grad, for stupid mistakes that require little more than common sense to figure out.  Water doesn't go into hot grease.  Bleach doesn't mix with ammonia.  Etc etc. BE a star.  Learn all you can.  No amount of schooling will ever make you better than someone that's been cooking under experienced chefs for years.

post #8 of 16
Quote:

Originally Posted by epicchef2be View Post

 

This is what I know of the schools I've checked out so far. CiA- most reviews are positive, main complaints are that schedules are not picked but set classes, credit transfers do not really happen, it is definitely worth it as long as you put in equal amounts of effort, and I will be closer to my sister because she goes to Columbia.

 

Wouldn't it be extremely hard to actually be a apprentice during this day and age? Everyone should go to college, get their degree and then find a job instead of "I'll go talk to this guy and I'd become his apprentice, then I'll be successful without going to culinary school!"

 

Being close to family is nice. Sister a a Med student? An apprenticeship has never been easy but if you can find a way to combine that with school it's as close as you can get to a winning combination. Skipping school is not a great idea. Any school is better than no school but not all schools are equal. The apprenticeship program has dwindled but as always the real caveat in work to learn that IMO so often gets blushed over is that you really have to secure a slot with a Chef that is not only knowledgeable but is CIA certified and willing to teach you.

There's a MASSIVE wage disparity in this field on average between those who have and education and those who do not.

You may also see others talk about star Chefs that never went to culinary school. While on the surface that may be true many of them are from very wealthy families and had the luxury of learning in Europe and/or a very solid education in another field that accentuated their cooking genre.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mizzjme View Post

 Im with you when i say the CIA is my dream school!! But at the same time, i'd really like going to an actual university so i can take a few classes outside of cooking, so i keep going back to Johnsonn and Whales.

 

FWIW the CIA is actually a University. Like my fellow Chef's I'm not sure I would hire some one right out of school Vs some one with ten years of experience however there are always exceptions on each end of the spectrum. I've hired a few CIA grads that were hopelessly lost and I've seen those who never went to school and have been working for a lot longer than ten years and will never be more than a prep or line cook.  Just because some one has been employed ten years doesn't mean they've been taught any thing in regards to being a Chef.

Remember you don't go to a school like the CIA or JW with the end goal as a line cook. You go with the end goal as being the Chef.

You get out of an education what you put in. You can't get any thing out of your education if you don't have one.

 

 

Dave

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #9 of 16

You don't need CIA or J & W to become a Chef. You need years of practical experience which in school you do not get. You do get a lot of theory which is ok to answer questions with but not run a large kittchen with..               And  sorry but CIA is NOT a University by any means. Wake up people

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 #10 of 16

 No the CIA does not have post graduate work. My bad.

How about J&W is that a University? 

I could be wrong but since the Op's sister is in Columbia I'm guessing that the cost of tuition is not a huge factor here.

School will never take the place of work irrespective of your field of study but I think the vast majority realize that school is a stepping stone and not the end game.

 

Dave

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #11 of 16

Don't know for sure but ,I doubt it. Colmbia Is as is Cornell Hospitality and Hotel Administration

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 #12 of 16

J&W is a University in every sense of the word.

The difference we are really talking about for most is that J&W offers a post-graduate Masters program while the CIA in the technical sense is a four year college with a Bachelors program VS a Communuity college that offers a two year Associates degree.

Columbia does not have a culinary arts program unless you are referring to ICE which isn't even a college AFAIK.

No one in this thread is asking about Hotel and Hospitality management. If we were talking about that program we would be adding several state universities to the list like Michigan State.

Some here feel that all schools are equal and a degree isn't worth the paper it's printed on unless you need to plug a hole in your garage wall. I've also seen the suggestion here of getting a job at McDonalds to learn. Clearly I come from a very different back ground.

I do agree  that "waking Up" is good advice. Students need to understand those differences before they end up with a piece of paper from a program no one has heard of that may have little no value at all.

I couldn't possibly think of a better analogy for how the lowest price is not always the best deal.

 

Dave

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
post #13 of 16

This is what makes America great, everyone can have their own opinions.  Also you are the one that brought up Columbia I never said it had culinary arts, I just remember it was always refered to as  a University. .  Cornel by the way encompasses a  minor culinary arts study  included in its hotel management series/ It does not however stress the culinary factors.they juyst skim over it .  

Also the original post said Is it worth 4 years. This only the individual can decide. In this business in particular one must weigh the cost of the school in total and what you will make whenyou get out. It is not like a Doctot who pays thousands but a year or so  after he gets out can make thousands. Cooks can't.

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 16
Quote:

Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

Also the original post said Is it worth 4 years.

It is not like a Doctot who pays thousands but a year or so  after he gets out can make thousands. Cooks can't.

 

Both the CIA and JW both offer four year programs.

There are scads of Universities but out side of J&W how many in the US have a culinary arts program?

 Yes on average physicians earn more (shocking) but equally as surprising is that many physicians earn under six figures and graduate med school with an average debt load of 200-300K. There are plenty of Chefs that make six figures. I worked under a CMC who was not some superstar or TV personality and his BASE pay was 220K in 1990 and that's no where near the highest paid Chef I have known.

With a BA you certainly can top 100K and I've seen CIA grads get that or darn close right out of school.

Not every one wants to end up as a cook grunting it out for $15 an hour for the rest of their life and surely not every one thinks their degree is a worthless piece of paper.

Irrespective of any ones opinion each student should make an informed decision.

 

 

Dave

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hey everyone, haven't checked this site in awhile because I wasn't getting any responses but thanks for all the help! As of right now, I'm just trying to recover half a semester's worth of school because I am still a junior, there have just been some major complications that are stopping me from attending school! 

@duckfat, my mother passed away when I was very young so money is tight in the sense that we need to very smart as to what we spend it on. My sister has done an excellent job with scholarships and is a huge factor as to why she can even attend Barnard!

 

anyway, back to the main topic. To all of you saying that you do not need school is very true, but I'm Korean and I NEED to attend some kind of Uni, haha. 

Yeah, having family in the same state is a huge thing especially in any kind of emergency. That reason for me needing to attend might seem ridiculous but it is actually very true! Also, I am pretty damn sure finding a job will be MUCH easier with time spent at the CIA and in actual restaurants. 

 

In terms of what kind of degree, Bachelor's. The CIA is my dream school pretty much, and I hope I will eventually get accepted. :)

Seems like you guys went a bit off topic hahah

post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 

Just thought I would add this! Please don't think I'm some naive kid who wants to go to culinary school and automatically become a big shot. I know it's hell to get to even an average status as a chef and am totally willing to do anything needed.

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