Mark in VT
Definately New England Culinary Institute.
Thanks for your responses. I think I may have him off of J&W and headed towards CIA. Of course, money is an issue, but between scholarships and financial aid, perhaps we can get it done. If I may say so, he’s really smart ((high honor roll every quarter since elementary school) and
really creative in the kitchen (although I haven’t dared to try his cinnamon chicken yet). Thanks again,
I’ve always been under the impression that Paul Smith’s College had an excellent culinary arts program. I’ve eaten the food on campus prepared by the CA students and was impressed. I have also stayed at the Hotel Saranac and it was awesome. From the hotel service to the food – top to bottom an excellent experience.
here is a thought.
have your son attend a local community school while he is working in a kitchen.
after he graduates have him bust his rump to get into the apprecticeship program at the greenbriar. i helped a kid do this years ago on my own time. rich is now a very successful executive chef in maryland and told me a while back when i was too old to handle things anymore he needed a good sous chef. all kidding aside the greenbriar program is the same as marine bootcamp,tough,hard,unforgiving, and turns out great chefs
I highly recommend you absolutely do *not* send your son to culinary school before he gets some exposure to a real kitchen … the assisted living facility is NOT representative of how a real restaurant kitchen operates … restaurant kitchens are a "different beast" and are a cross between a high level hospitality business and a war zone. It is not the same thing.
While the skills and certifications obtained in culinary school are invaluable, without your son being able to put what he learns into the proper context, his experience at a school will not provide the benefit it otherwise would. It is putting the cart before the horse … and you will not get the biggest bang for your education buck.
I would suggest he gets a job in the kitchen of ONLY a top restaurant … ideally as a food prep, assistant to the Garde-manger/pantry cook, etc.
Even if a food handling position is not possible, then as a dishwasher. There is lots of time ahead for a 15yr old to get into food preparation and behind the cooking line. If he is reliable and lets his intentions be known to management, he won t likely have to suffer behind the Hobart for too long. Any food-handling experience (if he had any) at the assisted living facility won t be hurt by a stint as a dishwasher … He needs real restaurant experience.
To get his foot in the right door , accept whatever pay or hours they have, however limited or not ideal as they happen to be. Importantly, do *not* go to a lesser or short order restaurant … hold out for the best that is available. And be willing to transport him a little further away to obtain the right position if there is nothing local.
Because you won’t be able to critique local restaurants’ "back of the house" to know which of them are well run and have staff and culture that your son will get the most from; here are a few ideas to help make a choice …
1) Determine who are the most famous chefs in the area and do EVERYTHING you can to get your son into that kitchen … as I said, even as a dishwasher.
While going to the kitchen of a famous chef does not assure you of finding the perfect environment (particularly as many top chefs are *very* tough to work for) it is *much* more likely that those kitchens will be the most robust and professional. Additionally, having been in the kitchen of a renown chef makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE as an employment reference.
To find out who these chefs are, review local newspapers… ask other people in the restaurant business … also, call the director of the best culinary program of your local community colleges and ask that person both who the best local chefs are (in their opinion) and which restaurants might have the best kitchens. Often, those community college culinary programs are directly recruited from by better restaurants.
2) other than selecting a restaurant based on its (or its Chef s) reputation … a back-up plan might be to get your son into a major national franchise restaurant that is at the higher end of the dining spectrum such as Steak-and-Ale etc … These operations by necessity, have very well thought-out procedures and controls. Such a restaurant will instill good habits … and also be a good reference for future jobs … such as one in the kitchen of a top chef as mentioned above.
Finally … when it comes to what culinary programs are out there … you might take a look at this website:
It takes me a lot of time to write among the distractions while doing it. I saw this reponse and will say that your son appears to be on the right path. Good luck to him.
I like your response. I am not from any culinary school, but have been fortunate enough to have worked with instructive chefs in good kitchens. I have the ability to make the same sauces and dishes in a variety of ways. "How do -YOU- want your sauce made?"
To paraphrase the Magliozzi Brothers from Cartalk "I am unencumbered by the thought(or educational) process."
That said, I have worked with culinary students from the California Culinary Institute for their apprentice program prior to graduating. My opinion was that they still had a lot to learn.
At the bookstore, I just read a chapter of Anthony Bourdain’s , Nasty Bits and liked his comments regarding culinary school grads and their attitudes as compared to cooks (mostly Latino) who work their way up from the bottom.
I’ll just say that I had on very good friend who after graduating, his father bought him a restaurant. He was totally unprepared for what was required and the business folded.
stevefin writes===I work at a very upscale resort, with one of the best chef staffs in the country. ===
I agree with the posts that say have your son work there for one summer before making any commitment. Have him learn some of the basics of prep work before making a decision. He might decide to become a Lawyer instead, as there isn’t as much sweat and burnt or cut fingers in that profession….
I have a nephew who has come up from the lower ranks and now finds himself running a kitchen at a resort in Wisconsin. I talked to him on the phone recently and I am proud of his accomplishments.
But let’s say that he does like the work. Where should he go? I would suggest he attend the California Culinary Institute. They have a fine reputation and popular fixed price meals. But most important, he could find a part time job working in any of San Francisco’s fine restaurants and hone his skills.
Yes, he has already worked in a professional kitchen (on a volunteer basis at an assisted living facility where my wife was dining room manager) and has a standing offer from the resort owner to work in the kitchen (transportation issues prevented that this year, since I’m the night manager). The resort chefs have told him–and he understands–that he should already be back in a kitchen. He’s looking.
I can’t tell from the OP’s posting whether the young man in question has ever worked in a restaurant. Besides the fact that this type of employment would give him some reality about that type of work environment, most chef’s training programs (at least the more reputable ones) require that their prospective students have some work experience in a restaurant setting, even if it was in a very subserviant role. If he isn’t currently working in a restaurant, now is the time to get him a job of that type.
I was being factious on the Yale comment, but on a serious side Cornell has one of the finest programs in the country. You might want to google Johnston and Wales though, there is an active blog that has some real horror stories from the parents about their dealings with them. Chow Jim
You should start him at the "school of hard knocks", working washing dishes at the Resort. Let him see what really goes on in a successful kitchen
Hey, I remember when the CIA was right next to the Yale campus. It’s where I learned to tourne. Take that! [:D]
Yale! Chow Jim
Yes, it’s Anne Willan. She moved the school to a chateau in Bourgogne, also has one at the Greenbriar and probably several other locations I don’t even know about. We were located on Rue St. Dominique in Paris.
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