culinary schools under fire.

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Its been like that for along time especially when you secure your loan through school . and when some kid says i want to a chef like on TV then does ok are even good in culinary school they leave the business after 2 years .
it sad really
I never understood why you would work and go to school, spending 80 or more hours a week cooking, for 1-4 years to get a culinary certification. You could work 2 jobs in food for 1-4 years and leave with real world experience...and they pay YOU for it.
Oh and LOL @ $15/hr starting for a line cook. BAH! 50 hours a week, that's $3,300 a month! I wish!
That report barely scratches the surface. Quick story.
I attended a small culinary school as a career changer in the mid 80's. While I was a student (and for some time after graduation), I also worked as the pm steward to help pay tuition. At one point the owners were bought out by a group that operated trade schools. Immediately, the entire situation changed. Long standing and respected faculity members that objected to policy change were sacked. Programs were condensed and class size grew. They stopped screening candidates. And worst of all, they started to recruit students that were mandated by the state to get an education. So the classes started to be populated with 'recovering' substance abusers, and teen single moms, and anyone else the state would fund. These poor bastards would then be cajoled into staying with the program until the tuition reimbursement period ended, and then be cut loose or left to quit on their own. Easy money, as they say.
Needless to say, that school's reputation went into the shitter, and it was subsequently bought and sold several times after. I still maintaned a relationship with their placement department through the years and would accept externs when they were available. Virtually all of the ones that came to me were devoid of any culinary aptitude or passion. And they were completely disillusioned as to what the industry was really about. And they were all going to be superstars with their own tv show in 18 months. Right.
In all fairness, there should have been a big sign over the entrance of that school that read "ARBEIT MACHT FREI" considering how much truth there was to the ******** these people espoused.
My wife used to teach English to court reporting students, a profession where someone with a high school education can make well over $100K. However, even more so than cooking schools, the true success rate has always been very low, maybe 5 percent or so. The rest drop out or never develop the skills to pass the state test (here in California a reporter has to be able to take 200 words per minutes with less than a 1% error rate, including grammar and spelling). It's a bit like learning to play the piano -- anyone can pound out chopsticks but few make it to Carnegie Hall.

Anyway, the schools became rackets. Many were bought up by so-called adult education corporations, the sort of outfits that advertise on late-night TV ("Get a great job as a medical receptionist and impress your friends!"). The "ad reps" or admission representatives became the core of the business, recruiting clearly unqualified students (high school dropouts, poor English skills, even the deaf) and signing them up for federal loans, telling them that they don't have to pay them back. Many of the schools became little more than poorly disguised schemes for getting federal money and sticking the unsuspecting students with the bills. And some students hung on for years, piling up huge debts in the process (my wife had a couple of students who had been at her school for 14 years!).

So, the feds cracked down and imposed numerous rules, the same that they apply to various trade schools. There had to be a set completion time, I think 3 or 4 years, and after that the students could attend at no charge; there had to be a very high placement rate, something like 90% IIRC, etc. etc. That pulled the rug out from under the corporations' money laundering scheme, and most either closed their doors or dropped court reporting in favor of things like computer repair. The net result has been a huge decline in the number of schools, and consequently a lack of qualified reporters. Yes, audio and video recording has helped fill the gap, but most judges and attorneys find such recordings to be far less satisfactory than a written transcript, which can be easily searched, marked up, copied to documents, etc.

The federal rules were undoubtedly necessary because of the abuses, but both the profession and society have suffered as a result. Court reporting is not auto repair, and neither is cooking.
Very good article but, I don't necessarily blame the culinary schools, not all schools, a lot of it is the media and the crap they put on tv. They have shows that make cooking professionally fun and look easy, but in reality its not easy at all. It takes a certain person to be a cook or chef, i wish all culinary schools had requirments to work for a year or more in a restaurant to enter the school. It would make schools look better. As much of crap that cia takes iv never worked with somone that went there that didnt know what they were doing at least they knew the basics, and i belive they still have requirements to work in a kitchen to enter the school. I praise my school i went to and the education i recieved because i think i took valiable knowlege from it and learned alot of knowledge that i still use today from school, but out of the 80 or so kids that i graduate with i would say only 40 or so took knowledge from school, and maybe 15-20 of them had enough skill to work in restaurants. Im not knocking the school i went to, but more the students most of them didnt have any drive or motivation but thats how most teen age kids are now days. A few years go i read a statistic on a forum that 75% of culinary school graduates dont work in the industry after 5 years of graduating, i would say that statistic is very accurate but from seeing the people i graduate with on facebook i would say its 85-90 %.
I wish people would get the hang of the concept that working in a kitchen is not like Ratatouille--first priority is not creativity, passion, and a bold heart. First priorities in the restaurant business are consistency, thick skin, honesty, and cleanliness. You create one amazing, insightful, seasonal dish that people just love. Good job. And thanks to Culinary School, you can say what it is in French! Now make 45 of them a night 6 nights a week.
I wish people would get the hang of the concept that working in a kitchen is not like Ratatouille--first priority is not creativity, passion, and a bold heart. First priorities in the restaurant business are consistency, thick skin, honesty, and cleanliness. You create one amazing, insightful, seasonal dish that people just love. Good job. And thanks to Culinary School, you can say what it is in French! Now make 45 of them a night 6 nights a week.
Well put! I love cooking at home for me and my wife, sometimes for my daughter's family, occasionally for guests. It's relaxing, creative, and fun, and I'm pretty good at it. But doing it for a living? I don't think so! In the first place, I HATE WORK!
Remember, in all cases, schools are in the BUSINESS of education. Future success is up to you and not guaranteed by anybody as much as I can tell!
Well I got into a pretty bad school for my first culinary school... I knew more about some of the subjects they are teaching then the 'culinary trainers' themselves.. And probably only 8 or 10 % of my batch of graduates actually continued in this line.

I'm not against it of course but make sure you know what you are getting yourself into and choose a reputable organisation. The certificate you get just helps you to 'open the door' so to speak. The rest is up to you.
What do you guys think of culinary programs at community colleges? Two of my friends just finished an accelerated 1 year associates program at our local CC. It was 5 days a week, 8-5 for a whole year with only two 1 week breaks, no summer breaks or anything. It's hard to get into, there are a lot of applicants but they only accept about 20% on a lottery basis and I think it cost them maybe $2,000 tops out of pocket. They said it was a lot of hard work and was exhausting but they've both been finished since December and they're both still working at the same chain restaraunt they were working at before graduation. Although their own complacency and lack of motivation to go get a better job could be to blame.

I really like reading these threads. I don't think I want anything to do with the restaraunt industry, unless I owned my own place, but I always like everyone's opinions about these. Those of you that think culinary school is a waste of time and people could just work and gain experience instead, do restaraunts hire people with zero experience to do line cook jobs next to CIA grads? Where does someone with no restaruant/school experience start?
You start at the bottom like everyone else. Wash dishes,peel bags of onions and potatoes,learn how to handle a knife by chopping,slicing anything you can get your hands on.Show some real interest and passion for food and cooking.Watch and learn....
A culinary degree put's you about 3-5 years ahead of some one going through the back door .and depends on who's back door you knock on.
i seen some culinary grads do good work and a handful were great but a lot just a big let down and the guy that was washing dishes 6 years ago will kick his ass on the line. oh and DON'T wear your little school chef jacket in a real kitchen . SHOE MAKER:chef::chef:
That was the sear now the lesson
in the L.A. TIMES food section they have a good story with chef Keller. a master class .