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Help out an older guy please

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Ok, I'm at 42 year old at home dad at the moment.  My relationship with food has pretty much sucked throughout my life.  It's not that I hated it, I was just never in any position growing up to appreciate and learn about it.  So now, with absolutely no experience, I have it in my mind that I want to go to culinary school to learn how to cook or rather, prepare me for work in the trenches.

 

I don't say I want to learn to be a chef because I understand that is a long process that may or may not happen if I actually turn out to be good at this which I think I would be.

 

Yes, I know that working in a kitchen can suck.  I'm not worried about that.  I have no problem putting in a year or two for the experience and then seeing where it goes from that.

 

What I want to know is if anyone knows any good cooking schools/programs in NYC?  I know about ICE and FCI.  There is the Career Academy but after talking to them on the phone they seem to be hard sell type of place.  I'm really not looking to spend 28K+ for this when apparently people on the boards say that where you go really doesn't matter as long as you have the drive.

 

I already have a college degree in a totally unrelated field so I don't see myself as needing to go to some 2 year associates program.

 

So, can anyone recommend something in my area that is actually affordable and will teach me what I need to know?

 

Also, if it matters, I have tried to start my education by reading 'On Food and Cooking' so that by the time I do start, at least I will know a little about food.

 

Thank you all for any and all help/info/advice that you provide.

 

Fred

post #2 of 19

First you are young . Check out NYC Tech College in Brookly Adult Ed evening division Culinary Arts program. They should still be offering this program. Or call NYC Bd of ED and ask if they still have Culinary Adult Ed programs available. I used to teach them but that was many many years ago. Neither of these will break your bankroll, and were as good as any.  If you pay 12000 a year or 1200  water boils at 212 in both schools at same temp if you get my drift.

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 #3 of 19

In my experience, there are 2 types of cooks.  One works in a kitchen, barely pulls his weight, cuts corners...but is on time every day and follows orders, because he "needs a job."  The other kind is a person that just loves to cook, immerses himself in it, prays for a 180+ seat push, can't wait to go to work every day and learn new things.  Thank you for being the latter, the world needs more of you.

 

I'm agreeing with Ed here.  Can't really add much to his advice, but keep reading -- that's very important.  A good foundation is priceless as far as building knowledge goes.  Learn your mother sauces, secondaries, etc.  Even if only in theory.  It's quite a bit different when you have to make things on-the-fly but I suspect you'll meet that challenge with bells on.

post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 

First of all thanks for the kind words and encouragement.

 

This is just all kinds of maddening.  ICE has the classes I want to take and more importantly offers all the classes when I can take them and is conveniently located.  Only problem is the 28K the school costs.

 

Anyone have about 20K they don't mind giving away?  It would be for a good cause :)

 

I'm an at-home-dad with 2 kids (one almost 4 and the other 8 months) so I'm not about to saddle the family with that kind of debt though my wife God bless her, would probably let me do it.

 

Here is the maddening part, and I hope this at least helps someone else out.  First off...Star Career Academy

 

http://www.starcareeracademy.com/

 

As soon as I saw their web site I smelled something funny.  Though I have not been there, talking to their 'admissions' person plus everything I can find out about this place sets off my 'Spidey sense" and tells me to run away.

 

I have checked all the CUNY schools in my area and if they do offer a program it's a 2 year Associates degree.  Now, I already have my bachelor's (went back when 1st kid was born and finished last year) so an associates seems a bit of a waste.  Kingsborough Community College and City Tech both have associates degrees and Kingsborough does have a one year certificate (full time) but they both have all these hospitality management courses that I really have no interest in taking.  I mean, I really don't see the need to take "Perspectives in Hospitality Management" or "Hospitality Marketing".

 

As per Chefedb, City Tech does indeed have a 60 hour cooking program that sounds perfect and it's dirt cheap...

 

http://www.citytechce.org/cooking-essentials.html

 

but is it offered any time this year?  No (have to double check that on Monday).

 

I also have to follow up on his other recommendation and check out the Department of Ed on Monday.  Here is the site if anyone else is looking...

 

http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/AdultEd/ProgramOfferings/default.htm

 

I live in New York City for Pete's sake!!!  Surely there has to be someplace I can go to learn without sacrificing the first born and wasting a year or two on unnecessary classes.

 

Any great chefs out there want to take on a newbie and teach him everything you know?  I'll trade some evening shifts for knowledge.

 

Oh well, at least I have Harold McGee at my fingertips.  I already know more than I ever did about milk and I'm loving it.  I mean real Mozzarella cheese is made with Buffalo milk?  Who knew!

 

I can't wait to get to eggs.

post #5 of 19

Pick up a copy of Professional Cooking by Wayne Gisslien, that will help fill in some of your gaps.

post #6 of 19

I could be wrong but city tech in Brooklyn has a summer course in Culinary Arts. You do not want Hospitality, now you want Culinary. Cornell U. gives courses in Hospitality and when you come out you still can't boil water. It is strictly management and front of house yet it always amazes me how the manager and f&b guys sometime try to take over the kitchen and the chef when they never worked in one or cooked commercially.

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 #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you thetincook for the recommendation.  I will make that my next read.

 

I called up New York City College of Technology AKA City Tech and the continuingEd 60 hour cooking program may or may not be offered in the Fall.  Apparently it's a new program that I guess restarted last semester.  The person on the phone told me that it really didn't fly last time it was offered.  Anyway, they won't know until late in June.  Still won't work for me as it will most likely be Tues and Thurs from 9am to 3pm and that doesn't work for me.  The only other alternative at City Tech is to take the degree program in Hospitality Management.

 

The Board of Ed said they no longer do the Culinary/Food Prep course in the Brooklyn location.  That it's offered in Manhattan at a place called Co-op Tech.  So far this place sounds perfect but as of now I really don't know much about it.  It's the city option so I don't know if that is good or bad.  I don't know the cost yet but something tells me they will be one of the most affordable options if the the most affordable.  They have 16-20 year old students during the day and do adult education in the evening so you have to call after 4pm to get info on the adult classes.

 

Here is the link to the Culinary Arts program...

 

http://www.co-optech.org/courses-offered/culinary-arts/

 

If anyone knows anything about this place I would love to hear it.  Finally, a big thank you to chefdb.  I'm sure I never would have though to check out the Board of Ed and don't know if I would have found this place on my own.

post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 

I found this on the Co-op tech web site, this is for the adult program...

 

Students with a US High School Diploma or GED are not eligible

 

This is officially maddening again.

post #9 of 19

I believe the Bd of Ed Adult division is good for you .It may be the school I taught in renamed it used to be on 50th st. between 10th and 11th ave. Manhattan Used to be Martin L King Hs & before that was Food and Maritime trades HS and before that food trade voc HS. The night courses used to be $5.. a course but you had to be employed in food industry.

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 19
Thread Starter 
This is really just ridiculous. The board of Ed option is that Co-op tech school I posted about earlier. I spoke to a couple of different people at the BOE and they both referred me to Co-op tech.

So I finally get to speak to someone at this vocational school and they confirm that a U.S. High School diploma indeed disqualifies you for the program. They did allow some people with a H.S. degree in last year but that may or may not be the case again, depends on BOE rules and what they say. Even if they do, there is a test in Oct for the next round and I was told with a 'I didn't tell you this' from the person on the other end of the line that it's a basic reading/math comprehension exam and if you do too well, you don't get in. Also, classes are booked full which is no surprise as it's free.

Something tells me with my 'white boy' appearance (even though I'm Spanish) and my college degree...I ain't gettin in.

So basically ICE, with all It's debt, is really the only place that offers class when I can attend.

That as they say sucks ass!

My apologies, can I say 'sucks' here?
post #11 of 19

Back in the *80s I taught cooking/catering at The NY Institute of Diatetics on west 14th st. 11th floor.

       The school was sold after I moved to Florida  and is now known as NY Restaurant School  Give them a call.They used to have evening classes in various facets  of culinary arts.

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 19
Thread Starter 

Finally, a happy ending!  Firstly, I did come across the NY Restaurant School but it was renamed in 2001 to The Art Institute of New York City.  Although they do offer a culinary program, you can't take it at the New York branch of the school but thanks for the suggestion.

 

As for my search, I decided to try New Jersey and lo and behold, I find a culinary arts program at Hudson County Community College.  It's close to the city (I can drive there in like 30 minutes, not sure how long the train/bus is), super affordable and they seem to offer a whole smorgasbord of classes.  For others researching they have 2 year associates program, a certificate program that included a 600 hour externship and the one(s) I'm interested in which are proficiency certificates.

 

Basically they are for people who don't want to get a degree  so you don't have to take any general education classes.  There are 3 of them, hot food, cold food and baking.  Each are 12 credit programs consisting of six 2 credit classes and take up to 28 weeks to complete.  If you want to take more then one program then you will have to register with the college and meet their eligibility criteria but if you already have a college degree then you would be except from their placement tests.

 

Here is the best part, after working out the costs of the hot food program, registration (as an out of state resident), additional fees, knife set, uniforms etc (excluding books) the grand total is about 6K!  Here are the links to the different proficiency certificates. 

 

 

Hot food:

http://www.hccc.edu/programscertificates/programdetail.aspx?programID=1090

 

Cold food:

http://www.hccc.edu/programscertificates/programdetail.aspx?programID=1087

 

Baking:

http://www.hccc.edu/programscertificates/programdetail.aspx?programID=1081

 

You can find the class listings there with a link to their descriptions.  I'm wondering now if it's a good idea to take all of them or if it would be overkill.  Any thoughts?  For the price it seems you can't go wrong.

 

 

I'm contemplating taking all of them though I'm not sure.  I'll be home with the kids for another year or two so I have the time.

post #13 of 19
Quote:

Originally Posted by Daddycrackers View Post

 

Yes, I know that working in a kitchen can suck.  I'm not worried about that.  I have no problem putting in a year or two for the experience and then seeing where it goes from that.

 

I would seriously consider putting in the one or two years first, or at least trying to learn on your own first. I understand that us older folks tend to look at schooling, education, and diplomas as the correct way to go about learning something. It's one way, and you pick up a lot of terminology and theory as well as good habits (hopefully). However, remember that cooking is a craft, much like any other trade. The best learning you will have is under someone that is willing to teach if you are willing to learn.

 

There are also a lot of online resources available to you. I would read what Shuna Lydon has to say about culinary school on http://eggbeater.typepad.com/ <-- right hand side down a bit. Before dropping any money at all on culinary school. Determine if that is the right course for you.

 

I would also look at this video series: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheSeasonedCook

 

And I would encourage to visit: http://www.stellaculinary.com which is a free online learning site.

 

~Apprentichef

Apprentichef - Six stitches to go home early and you can't die until your shift is over.

 

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Apprentichef - Six stitches to go home early and you can't die until your shift is over.

 

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post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 

If I didn't have any kids then that is most likely what I would do.  Thing is for now, my daughter (4 years) and son (7 months) are job #1 and I'm not about to sacrifice quality time with them that will affect their future development to work in a kitchen...just yet.  In about 2 to 3 years I will have 2 kids in school who will be much more self sufficient and whatever psychological damage I have inflicted by then will be their building blocks for life.  At that point I can worry about going back to work either full or part time.

 

Until then I can learn and that is what I plan to do.  For now I'm reading 'On Food and Cooking' (up to cheeses) and as I have no and I mean no real experience with food apart from what I'm sure most here would consider crappy food that I make myself I doubt anyone would hire me with my current limitations.  6K seems pretty reasonable for the programs I listed above.  When I was finishing up my undergrad at Hunter the bill was about 4 to 6k a year so I know we can handle it.  Next tax rebate check and it's paid so I won't have the debt to saddle my family down which is one of the big reasons not to go.

 

As for learning on my own, I'm all for it but if I get into a bad habit then chances are it will be there to stay.  I will definitely check out the links you mentioned.  I did read Shuna Lydon's page and I plan on going back but my first impression is that for a pastry chef, she is a bit bitter ;)

 

On a side note, I keep reading these posts about the long and thankless hours and I have to think to myself "been there, done that." Not in any food or chef related way, but I used to work in market research on the programming side.  When Lydon writes about getting home at 2am to sleep I think "she gets to sleep!"  I can't tell you how many time as a programmer I had upper management give me a project (after juggling 8 or 9 already) and saying that they needed it in the morning.  After mentioning that new project would take all night the response was usually "I have complete faith in your programming abilities."  When I was managing a programming department there was the time that I oversaw a job so big they just let me stay home for a year to work right from my computer.  I was dealing with people in New York, London and South Africa.  Those were just ridiculous hours that honestly, hours wise, I have not read anything yet that even comes close.  I mean, not being able to see your wife because your at work is one thing, not being able to see your wife when your working from home because it's that busy is just insane.

 

Believe me, I am not trying to win any contest or say that this profession is not hard, I know that it is.  It's just a different kind of hard that actually seems appealing compared to the kind of hard that I have been used to.  I'm in a wonderful position now where I can actually take my time and learn, practice at home and at the wost, become a better cook for my family.  I have time to wait for the right job that 'fits' into my schedule and I have plans for the future that will take years to accomplish anyway (as far as licensing is concerned).

 

And quite frankly when you stay home and take care of 2 kids all day, culinary classes would be a nice change of pace.  Something that will get me out the house, better my understanding and compliment (hopefully) my own reading.

 

That being said, I have no problem working in a kitchen in NYC (where I live) and learning everything I can from someone who is willing to teach me.  Problem is for now I could give that person 3 to 4 evenings a week from about 6:30pm to whenever, the same hours I would be able to attend class.  I'm a crazy hard worker, not afraid to ask questions, always willing to help, far from timid and really can't be insulted.

 

Any takers?

 

Come on...I dare ya!

post #15 of 19

oops, almost forgot this one to:

 

http://www.stayatstovedad.com/

 

Seems right up your alley.

 

As to getting into bad habits, if you do your homework you'll know what not to do. Work clean, work on knife skills, learn basics, then build from that.

 

 

~Apprentichef

Apprentichef - Six stitches to go home early and you can't die until your shift is over.

 

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Apprentichef - Six stitches to go home early and you can't die until your shift is over.

 

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post #16 of 19

Hey just a quick word of advice. Work in a kitchen first before attending school. Even if it is a PM dish/bus shift or perhaps prep/utility as then you will realy know if you want to do this! Trust this one as Apprenticechef has so aptly mentioned. Also you need to be able to physicaly work hard so get in shape,buy good shoes and prepare to party in a different world1 Good Luck, Doug..........

The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
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The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
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post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 

As for working in a kitchen right now, that's not really an option...unless you want to hire me (see previous post #14).  As for being in shape, granted I'm not all ripped up like I was when I was 40, but children have a way of cutting into your gym routine.  I'll say this though, I'll bet there are plenty of kitchen workers out there that wouldn't be able to handle running around after 2 kids all day. 

 

As for partying.  I came up in the 80's club scene and actually hung out with this guy a few times...

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Alig

 

How much crazier can it get?

post #18 of 19
Quote:
Thing is for now, my daughter (4 years) and son (7 months) are job #1 and I'm not about to sacrifice quality time with them that will affect their future development to work in a kitchen

Admirable, but not sure I understand why working in a kitchen would sacrifice quality time; but going to school evidently would not.

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 #19 of 19
Thread Starter 

Simple really, school is not work.  School is easy, it's simple and fun compared to work.  I will be able to go to class 2 to 3 evenings a week from about 6:30pm to 10:30pm and them come home.  Know anyone who would want to hire me to work those hours?  I'll stay later sure and bust my a** but I better be learning a lot, especially if I'm working for free and exchanging my time for knowledge.  I would be more than happy to do that.

 

Now you may be thinking to yourself "But the kids are asleep so what's the problem?" I'll get to that later.

 

As I understand it the hours would be more like 4pm to 2am.  That means that I have to leave at 3 which means time away from the kids and the added expense of a babysitter.  Also, if I am being paid then my employer will most likely want 5 or 6 days a week and really won't give a sh** about my home life.  Hell, even if I managed to find somebody who would let me walk in the door at 6pm then I would probably be working until 2am at the least in a best case scenario, go home and sleep about 3 hours and then wake up to take care of kids.

 

Now I don't know about anyone else, but I don't see how I can do a decent job with my kids if I'm always exhausted.  I don't get much sleep as it is but that is cool for now because it's not like I have a job I have to deal with.  Plus, now that I'm not sleeping and spending my entire day running around with kids and my nights working in a kitchen, how long do you figure it will take until I hurt myself or someone else because of some stupid mistake because I'm always tired?

 

As far as the kids being asleep, I have news for you..they wake up at different points during the night.  If I'm at some kitchen getting my jollies off seeing if I'll like it, my wife, who's work allows me to stay home with the kids and do things like contemplate culinary school, is now forced to deal with two kids by herself when she should be sleeping.  So, now she gets to be super tired at work all the time as well.  Plus we now have two parents who whenever they see their kids are bone tired.

 

Am I totally wrong here about what kind of hours I would be expected to work?  If I am anywhere near the mark then at this point in my life that is totally unacceptable because basically, it's not all about me.

 

On the other hand let's say I spent a year or two studying (at class and on my own) and practicing at home.  Two or three nights a week from 6:30 to 10:30 is great schedule for me.  Wife is home in time for me to leave even if she gets called for a last minute meeting.  She would have to put the kids to bed by herself a few times a week but that is far better that the other scenario and besides, I would be home before the evening fun starts and kids start waking up.

 

I think you also need to understand that I don't have any grand allusions of becoming a chef.  I really want to learn about food and how to be a better cook and what career opportunities that may open up for me in the future.  That may very well have me working in a kitchen, it may have me working in a corporate position or maybe I'll just wind up blogging about it.  It's too soon to tell.  I know that if it's not in the cards and I truly hate working in a kitchen environment, well, I'll hate it today, tomorrow and next year.  I can guarantee you this though, let's say I turn out to love it, find it's in my blood and I'm good at it.  The best way I can think of to screw that up is to start it when I'm not ready and put undue pressure on me, my wife and my kids.  For me personally, that is just not any kind of recipe for success.

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