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9th-Jul-2007 03:07 am
I have a few questions for anyone here who's training in a college-level culinary program. I might be attending school this fall in a chef apprenticeship program at a local community college. I'm still undecided. This program takes 3 years to complete, and they require you to be an apprentice under a chef 40 hours a week while also attending school full-time. This seems to me to be practically impossible to do. I could understand doing one of those things if we were allowed to do the other one part-time, but not both full-time for 3 years.

Anyway, to make a point, I also have the option of going to one of the Cordon Bleu schools here in the U.S. (Portland, OR), so I'm confused...which culinary program is more valuable to future employers??? The chef apprenticeship program (Associates of Applied Science which takes 3 years to complete) or Le Cordon Bleu (Associates of Occupational Studies and a Cordon Bleu Diploma which takes a year and a half to finish but costs twice as much)? Did any person here going through either of these programs regret their decision? Did you start in another culinary program and then transfer? Is there another culinary school you were considering before you decided on Le Cordon Bleu?
9th-Jul-2007 09:40 am (UTC)
i've not yet attended culinary school (i'm starting at an LCB school in august), but my thoughts after working in professional kitchens for a little over a year -

the 40 hours plus school will be hard and trying, but it will be good for building character and getting used to the long hours that come with a job in the industry. be prepared to give up your social life - restaurants are busiest on nights and weekends, while everyone else is playing. if you haven't yet, you'll be forced to learn good time management.

my bet on value to employers would go to the apprenticeship program - field experience is everything. all the photos, videos, demonstrations, and text in the world can't teach you what food feels, smells, sounds, looks, and tastes like when it's properly prepared - and you will ideally prepare things many, many times so that the process will become automatic and intuitive.

as i understand it, credits from LCB courses are largely non-transferable to other schools, and an AOS has less cachet than an AAS. I have my own reasons for choosing an LCB school, but i would suggest that you go for the chef apprenticeship, especially since it costs less.

or you could even skip the schooling and just work. find a chef that's willing to mentor you, and be ready to absorb everything he teaches you. observe everything going on around you and take notes. there are a many great cooks and chefs out there that have never once set foot in a culinary school.

(and, of course, if you're working, you don't have to worry about classes *and* you get paid!)
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