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6 months at Le Cordon Bleu London

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I have a limited time at LCB London and I'm having a hard time deciding what I should do.

 

Option 1 (completed in 6 months)

 

first term of 3 months

Basic Cuisine

Basic Patisserie

 

second term of 3 months

Intermediate Cuisine

Intermediate Patisserie

 

 

Option 2 (completed in 6 months)

Fast Track Cuisine Program, which covers Basic, Intermediate and Superior cuisine condensed into 6 months.

 

 

 

The pros to option 1, is that I'll have both Cuisine and Patisserie covered to an intermediate level. The cons are, I'm afraid I wouldn't learn as much compared to the programs that are not condensed. The pro to option 2 is that I'll have a full diploma, but the con is, I'll have no patisserie knowledge and experience.

post #2 of 7
Thread Starter 

I forgot to mention my goals as this plays a big part in my decision. I will be opening a bar/cafe/grill directly after attending culinary school. I've been involved in my family's bar businesses for almost 20 years, but this will be the first time venturing into food. I understand the restaurant business is tough, so I will be opening a bar/cafe/grill first (where the ordering/food preparation pace is slower) to get my feet wet before possibly venturing into a full-on restaurant in the future. I will also be hiring a much more experienced chef who will be more of my boss in the kitchen until I am at a comfortable-enough level to run the kitchen.

 

So having said that, I think option 1 will have me more well-rounded for the business, but I still feel like I would be missing out on a lot in the superior level.

post #3 of 7

I understand your dilemma, however for the type of food you'll be serving in a bar/cafe/grill, I think option 1 will serve you best.

 

Goldi.

 

Good food is the foundation of genuine happiness

AUGUSTE ESCOFFIER

Ravioli
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Good food is the foundation of genuine happiness

AUGUSTE ESCOFFIER

Ravioli
(5 photos)
  
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post #4 of 7

Aside from which option you choose, I can't help but wonder why the hurry in opening a bar/cafe/grill immediately after LCB?. In addition to the years spent in your family's bar businesses, have you spent any significant time working in a serious kitchen? If not, you should find a position somewhere to get yourself some objective experience on what a kitchen should operate like. Better yet, more than one to see how different chefs can do the same things differently and still get excellent results. 

     Any culinary school will give you a good grounding in the basics of food preparation, not make you an expert in anything. Experience is the best overall teacher and your culinary learning should continue for life. 

     I don't see your hiring a chef to show you the ropes as a scenario liable to work well. You begin by putting the chef in a tenuous position to begin with, employed only until you feel comfortable; that will take how long? Then what does the chef do? 

You will most likely want to hire a quality chef who has complete mastery of kitchen operations. Should you find such a chef, they will not want to babysit the boss and have to justify why they are doing anything to someone who has only taken a  six month course. They will want to be left alone to get the job done and have the freedom to instruct the other kitchen staff without fear of being contradicted by the owner every five minutes. 

     As you should already be aware from your family's businesses, the daily activities of the owner involve much more than just cooking. Hiring and training and overseeing front of the house staff, both waitstaff and bar personnel, customer relations, purveyor relations, bookkeeping, and building maintenance, marketing and more all need to be addressed, on a daily basis. If you plan to be in the kitchen all the time, who is taking care of those equally important areas? 

     There is a rather large gulf between the theoretical basis of culinary schools and the hard realities of daily kitchen operations. Experience is what bridges that gap. Remember that whichever option you choose for school, your learning has only begun, not finished.  

post #5 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by createasaurus View PostI

So having said that, I think option 1 will have me more well-rounded for the business, but I still feel like I would be missing out on a lot in the superior level.

I would imagine that option 1 would probably be the better option for what you want to do. The areas that you think you would miss out in the superior level, can be learned through experience and self teaching once you are out and working and have a solid culinary foundation underneath you.

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 #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post
 

Aside from which option you choose, I can't help but wonder why the hurry in opening a bar/cafe/grill immediately after LCB?. In addition to the years spent in your family's bar businesses, have you spent any significant time working in a serious kitchen? If not, you should find a position somewhere to get yourself some objective experience on what a kitchen should operate like. Better yet, more than one to see how different chefs can do the same things differently and still get excellent results. 

     Any culinary school will give you a good grounding in the basics of food preparation, not make you an expert in anything. Experience is the best overall teacher and your culinary learning should continue for life. 

     I don't see your hiring a chef to show you the ropes as a scenario liable to work well. You begin by putting the chef in a tenuous position to begin with, employed only until you feel comfortable; that will take how long? Then what does the chef do? 

You will most likely want to hire a quality chef who has complete mastery of kitchen operations. Should you find such a chef, they will not want to babysit the boss and have to justify why they are doing anything to someone who has only taken a  six month course. They will want to be left alone to get the job done and have the freedom to instruct the other kitchen staff without fear of being contradicted by the owner every five minutes. 

     As you should already be aware from your family's businesses, the daily activities of the owner involve much more than just cooking. Hiring and training and overseeing front of the house staff, both waitstaff and bar personnel, customer relations, purveyor relations, bookkeeping, and building maintenance, marketing and more all need to be addressed, on a daily basis. If you plan to be in the kitchen all the time, who is taking care of those equally important areas? 

     There is a rather large gulf between the theoretical basis of culinary schools and the hard realities of daily kitchen operations. Experience is what bridges that gap. Remember that whichever option you choose for school, your learning has only begun, not finished.  

 

Couldnt agree more....

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Chefwriter,

 

Thanks for your reply, you bring up valid points. Gaining experience in the field would make sense, as it would in any industry. I can't imagine that any culinary student would think they are experts after finishing culinary school. The idea of opening a restaurant is daunting and I certainly don't want to get thrown in the deep end. This is why I've made many decisions to start small and slow.

 

The area we have chosen is a newly-developing section of a small city (pop. 450k) in a northeast Asian country (for privacy reasons, I don't want to get too specific). It is in a relatively quiet, part residential, part commercial area with little foot traffic (as of now). There are big upcoming developments in the area including a train station (connecting a city of over 11 million), a new city courthouse, city prosecutor's office and about seven 25+ story high-rise apartment buildings. The city center and city hall is about a five minute drive away. The area is expected to be in full swing in about three years. We aren't completely foreign to the area and country. One of my parents was born here and now lives here on and off, and I've lived here for the past five years.

 

We are currently constructing a small 3-story building, with a commercial space on the bottom and 2-bedroom apartments on the upper floors. It is more a long-term real estate investment decision than anything. It's a common set up in the country, and there are entire zones dedicated to this type of (4 story max, part residential, part commercial) building. The developing street I'm on is slowly becoming a little restaurant and café street, with a few business just opened.

 

Our other businesses are located out of the country and are very well broken in and require very little management on our part, so I will be in the country full time as I have the past five years.

 

Being in the bar business, we're sticking to what we know. In the evenings, the business will essentially be a taphouse that serves food. Western craft brews are a rarity in the country and are just starting to get really popular with the locals. In the day, we plan to serve coffee and a simple lunch menu of sandwiches, burgers, salads, etc. Perhaps no more than 12 lunch items to start with.

 

Much of our main, evening menu will be made up of North American and European-style pub grub, American-style barbecue/smoked meats and a variety of European-style house-made sausages. Overall, I would guess about half of the menu would be cook-to-order items since smoked meats are cooked for hours, then held.

 

I was originally planning on opening this business without going to culinary school and with just hiring a good chef and kitchen manager. My original food interest before considering culinary school were cured and smoked meats. My decision to go to culinary school was for just the reason you mentioned, getting "a good grounding in the basics of food preparation."

 

Even with my passion for food, I will always be an entrepreneur first and a (future) chef second. If this first food venture is successful, I will likely be in the food business for a long time in this country and would not have the time to attend culinary school in the future. And if the business is successful, only then would I be more comfortable going into risker ventures with a bigger menu, faster pace and more complex dishes.

 

Western-style pubs, especially those owned by Westerners serving Western pub grub, have been very successful in the country. Because options are limited for Western food for the expat crowd, even bars with menus serving average burgers and fish & chips, with cooks with little experience are doing well. Many of these establishments could do well just on alcohol sales alone and by playing "back home" sports games. A large majority of the expats here have their housing and health insurance paid for, are single, do not own cars, and have disposable incomes with very little expenses.

 

Compared to most of my peers of this type of business in the country, I am going well beyond what is expected in terms of food. Most of the bars are owned by English teachers-turned-bar owners. Just having an establishment frequented by Western clientele and the presence of authentic international food (in this largely homogeneous country) is a draw for the native-locals. Many of these native-locals have studied or lived abroad in countries like Canada or Australia and have a taste for Western pub fare.

 

Regarding the chef working temporarily: Almost all of the country's English-speaking Western-born chefs are expats or travelers working abroad. This is more of a problem than it is a plus because it will be challenging to find someone long term (even with the tens of thousands of expats in the country). Most will prefer to work short term. (I've placed sample tester employment ads out  just to see what kind of responses I would get, and the responses were much more than I was expecting.)

 

I've learned from owning other businesses (I've owned three businesses in publishing, advertising and retail prior to this), to not wear too many hats. The failure of one of my businesses was due almost entirely to my bad accounting habits, thinking I could do things myself when they really should have been taken care of by a professional. Bookkeeping for one will be done 90% by an outside accountant. I will have a full-time FOH/General Manager. I will be in control of marketing with freelance support as needed.

 

To offset the expected slow day-time pace, we will also be selling via online orders (again, on a small manageable scale) freshly-packed deli meats, fresh sausages, Western cuts of beef and pork that are nearly impossible to find here at local grocery stores, and hard-to-find preserved/canned items, to expats throughout the country. There are tens of thousands of Western expats in this country from the UK, America, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc. that don't even have the option of buying a strip loin steak at a grocery store, or a british-style banger or even jar of proper dill pickles. This niche market could be a business on its own.

 

Having said all that, I still am highly considering working for a bit before getting started. If I could land an entry level job after LCB, I'd most definitely take it. But I doubt it would be more than a year. The biggest reason why I feel kind of rushed is my age and my desire to settle down in one place. I've spent a good amount of my 20s traveling and working abroad.

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