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I think that most education is the same. Schools are different. Unfortunately I think that many Culinary educators lack the basics in teaching. When you are just starting to develop there a 4 things which I think differentiates one school from another. My oldest son when to a Cistercian Preparatory school from the 5th grade until the 12th. The monks did not so much focus on the testing material, they first taught the boys how to read and understand what they were reading. Next, they taught them how to learn, not so much the regimented material but how to learn and retain the important components. Next, they taught them to respect others and to immerse themselves into society. Volunteering, community service, etc. Then nearer to graduation they are taught that they must be open minded for there is a plethora of ways to complete a idea or product. The monks followed this same pattern to educate.One example is the boys learned and studied Latin every year. They  didn't realize it, but the Monks weren't preparing them by memorizing material for testing but almost all of the 40 graduating boys aced the Reading and Writing part of their SAT's because of the Latin they learned.

Almost every Culinary School I've visited has basically the same syllabus and the focus is on the final test. So graduates walk into my kitchen and I know that they have been taught the same basic

products. They have not really learned why that combination of ingredients and the method and procedure produces the final product. For me, work experience over school experience weighs a bit more because if they have job accomplishments you hope they have learned to learn.

Just me though

· Registered
5,290 Posts
I've consistantly learned that having a degree is not necessary. I've also heard that it is extremely expensive to get a degree in culinary but not really worth what you pay for as far as experience.

I believe, which could be wrong because its an opinion, that working under a respected chef, someone who is professional and a good teacher, is much more valuable than going to school ( I don't truly know because I don't have a degree however) because they have the ability to train you and show you good habits, proper sanitation, storage methods, cooking techniques, recipe improvisation, creating etc.

Things that I feel wouldn't be taught in school are things like listening and attempting to learn from the chef, rather than putting in your own two sense when you start at new kitchen environment, or something like having your chef coat and pants perfectly clean and pressed every day, with two towels on your apron at all times, one wet, and one dry, with a dry towel in your hand to grab anything that could be hot. habits like these have been created by highly respected chefs and wouldn't be taught with pen and paper, they would be taught on the job gaining experience.

I have a background of military culinary, so I have extreme standards for how I look, however I've got little knowledge of fine dining recipies and techniques, which is why i'm in fine dining.

The business side can also be taught, by a person simply already running a successful business.

My personal opinion. School isn't necessary in culinary world, its all about hard work, dedication, willingness to learn, showing respect, demanding respect, and being there on time, and looking amazing when you get there, every single time, and when you fail or make a mistake, learn from it and write it down, so you can strive to not make the same mistakes again. Thats What I follow, and I was taught that, I didn't come up with it.

For me, work experience over school experience weighs a bit more because if they have job accomplishments.

I mentioned this for someone coming out of Culinary School without an apprenticeship program.

I'd also want to comment about the myth of culinary school being so expensive.

Where I am we have some of the best Culinary Schools in the country at our local Community Colleges. I've also been affiliated with their apprenticeship program.

I would not hesitate to hire a graduate from these schools or give an opportunity for apprenticeship. It's usually the first place I look before looking publically.

The program is terrific and affordable. Credit hours run about 59.00 which translates to around 4,000.for AAS.

The apprenticeship program is recognized by All Chefs Associations as well as the Government. That program has a minimun pay structure of $ 9,25 Hr. and is 6000 Hrs.

That program is very detailed and monitored to make sure apprentices don't get pigeon-holed into one position and get a truly well rounded education.

My problem is that there is usually no one available when I'm hiring. We have had a few apprentices in the past and they have all moved on to bigger and better things in their careers.

If funds are tight, there is plenty of financial aid, scholarship money as well as grants. Classes available in days, eves, Saturdays. Ride the bus for free, etc.

Some things regarding the apprenticeship program and where you will be learning.
[h4]What is it?[/h4]
The Chef Apprenticeship Training Program is an on-the-job training program whereby an individual (the apprentice) contracts with a qualified culinary facility such as a hotel, restaurant, country club, hospital, etc. (known as a sponsoring house) to be employed and trained for 6,000 hours based on the training program devised by the US Department of Labor and the American Culinary Federation. At the same time the individual is enrolled at El Centro College and must complete an Associate of Applied Science degree in either Culinary Arts or Bakery/Pastry. The US Department of Labor registers this program as a recognized apprenticeship training program. The duration of the program is a minimum of 6,000 hours. The US Department of Labor monitors the progress of each apprentice during training.

[h4]What is a Qualified Culinary Facility?[/h4]
A qualified culinary facility for the purposes of the Chef Apprenticeship Program is a facility that meets the following requirements:
  1. Employs as its executive chef (supervising chef) an individual who has or is eligible for one of the following qualifications: CCC, CEC, CMC, CEPC or holds an Associates or Bachelor degree or higher in culinary arts or related studies from an accredited college/university in the USA.
  2. Offers full service menu with at least 51% of the items are prepared from scratch.
  3. Serves at least two of the following meal periods/experiences: breakfast, lunch, dinner, banquets and/or off-premise catering.
  4. Is recognized as a legal entity by the State of Texas and the United States government.
  5. Provides full-time employment for the apprentice. This is usually between 30-40 hours each week.
[h4]What happens at the end of training?[/h4]
Upon successful completion of 6,000 hours of on-the-job training as well as completion of all required El Centro courses and receipt of the Associates of Applied Science degree apprentices will receive the Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship from the United States Department of Labor. In addition, apprentices are eligible to apply for certification as a Certified Culinarian or Certified Sous Chef (depending on your documented job experience) from the American Culinary Federation.

Just sayin
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