View Full Version : School Research Headaches

10-27-2011, 11:38 AM
My goal is to attend one of these two institutions: CIA or FCI. I've 100% ruled out JW, LCB, etc. So now that its down to these two, I'm trying to see if there is any advantage to the CIA over the FCI in terms of what I will be able to learn.

I've only been working BOH in the industry for about 1 year—at a prominent steakhouse for a well known chef. I am 23 right now and won't be able to attend culinary school until next year. If I attend the FCI, I will be just barely 25 when I graduate versus the CIA where I will be 26. I don't know if thats significant but admittedly I feel a tad old by comparison to a lot of the younger line studs I've worked with (some incredible 21 year olds, mostly). I want to know if that extra year I spend in school is worth it versus taking that extra year to work in the best kitchen I can possibly get myself in to. For instance, a little extra time to stew over what I'm learning in an academic setting or expanding my cultural knowledge may yield positive benefits as a chef in the long run? Perhaps my understanding of what is happening in the pan would better my capacity to teach it to others one day—so would the CIA provide that greater understanding?

Any thoughts or opinions on this subject would be welcome! Thanks so much!

10-27-2011, 05:00 PM
I didn't go to ether school but from what I understood at the time was that the CIA was more a finishing school for chef training. It is assumed you already know how to cook when you get there. Don't know the second one you mentioned.

Lots to consider for sure. If your goal is "Chef" training that the extra year would be good if they cover all the buisness aspects you will need, the higher up the ladder you go the farther from the kitchen you get... on avg. I went to school later in life and will be paying for it due to the "Young Turks" of the line getting all the slots, seems the older you get the harder it is for line jobs to settle on you. Younger guys tend to be hungrier and work for less than older famly guys. You may bump into that in the long run unless you get the higher up training to take on the leadership jobs.

My school was big on buisness training as well as the understanding of the science of the pan so to speak. Understanding whats going on in the pan allows you to really tweek a menu at the lowest posable cost. I enjoyed having all my classes (cooking) as hands on, lectures where over the stove as you where doing it, I loved that.

10-27-2011, 06:38 PM
I say FCI. Take the year that you saved & get some practical experience with another great chef (or three). You can always follow up with cont. ed. courses.
Are you thinking Cali or NY? Can't comment on the Left Coast, never been. Consider this though; in NY, FCI is in the middle of Manhattan....CIA is in the middle of nowhere.

I came into the business about the same age as you did. It was't that hard competeing w/ the younger guys. Back then CIA was like West Point, they produced a lot of very knowledgeable, by-the-book tightasses. Guys from other schools were more adventerous but less focused & disciplined. Of course it's changed now. Just don't let the counsellors or the Food Network deceive you into believing you'll be bumping Grant Achatz in two years. Good luck w/ your decision.

10-27-2011, 08:55 PM
New york definitely. I'm in Atl currently and NYC fits my goals. FCI is definitely where im leaning. Just trying to make sure i wouldnt be missing out on anything if i went there as opposed to the two year program. Tight ass isnt completely my style but knowledgable sounds pretty good to me.

sachem allison
10-27-2011, 09:05 PM
FCI definitely, CIA have been turning out a bunch of Prima Donna no talent douche bags lately. They used to be a great school and you can still learn a lot, but you'll get more NYC restaurant experience from FCI. Jacque Pepin is always popping in, I think he is one of the deans and Eric Ripert from Le Bernadin. You are also in the heart of everything. Not to mention its a lot cheaper. You should also look into ICE.

Salty dog
10-27-2011, 09:12 PM
What is FCI?

10-27-2011, 09:13 PM
French Culinary Institute. Or were you being sardonic? :D

Salty dog
10-27-2011, 09:18 PM
I had no clue.

Eamon Burke
10-27-2011, 10:02 PM
Why not get either a degree from a college, or a job at a notable restaurant.

10-28-2011, 05:25 AM
Do whatever allows you to get the most restaurant experience. In the long run field experience and positions held on your resume will matter more to those interviewing you over where your culinary degree came from.

My experience is almost exactly the same as yours except I was 26 when I started. The biggest thing is school is what you make and not so much where you go. Work hard and study hard but look for that work experience more so than a fancy school name eh

10-28-2011, 10:26 PM
I'm in a tech school program so can't help in your decision making, but if I could work with Dave Arnold (http://www.cookingissues.com/), then I'd go to FCI for sure. But then that high tech food science stuff is what gets me all jazzed up.


10-29-2011, 10:48 AM
Thanks everyone for all the info! I'm inclined to agree with you guys on FCI--less time in school and more time working is a good thing, so long as I can keep my nose to the grindstone and put in enough to get a lot out of it. AJ, thanks for that link. I think that might have pushed everything past the tipping point for me in favor of FCI. That gentleman is doing some seriously incredible work.