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Old 04-21-2008, 10:02 PM   #1
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Le Cordon Bleu and other schools

Hi,

I'm not sure if this is where to post this but I've a question about continuing education. Has anyone, here, ever attended or graduated from a cooking school such as Le Cordon Bleu? I'm curious which books they're studying from and what a typical term syllabus would look like, for say, patisserie.

Also, can anyone who has attended a professional school suggest some books to read that can help improve the understanding of food or cooking techniques, etc?

Thanks,

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Old 04-21-2008, 10:13 PM   #2
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i would be very interested in this information as well.



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Old 04-21-2008, 10:16 PM   #3
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The Professional Chef is the text used at the Culinary Institute of America. As for patisserie I can't say for sure, but I taught myself a good deal from The Professional Pastry Chef (4th Edition).

As for books that help you to understand technique, none such exist. They can tell you why food carmelizes at high temperatures, why certain foods oxidize and turn brown while others don't, things like that. As for the understanding of technique, however, there is NO substitution for learning by doing. I would say that it's easier to self teach patisserie than cooking, because it is SO precise. Normal cooking however, is affected largely by how good your technique is, and it's really impossible to know how good your technique is compared to any other cook out there.

Say you're trying to do something simple, like pan-roast a chicken breast. You want a great sear, the right amount of seasoning, it should have great color, texture, flavor, and plenty of moisture. How do you know if you're not seasoning enough without something to compare to? How do you know if you're compromising moisture for a better color? These are all things you learn by doing, and you CAN learn to do it at home by yourself, but you will spend lots of time and money in the process, and you'll never really know where you stand.

If you're thinking of attending culinary school, I won't tell you what to do either way. I thought about going at one point while I was a cook because I had a real passion for it. The other cooks who had been to culinary school all told me approximately the same thing: save your money. You'll learn in 3 months on the job at a good restaurant kitchen what you would learn in 2 years at school. Of course this doesn't apply to everything: you'd get to do charcuterie in school, for example, whereas many kitchens now wouldn't even consider having any sort of home-made pate or farce on their menus.

If what you want are tips and good advice, then these forums are a good place to start. It you want great foundational skills, you need to get into a kitchen, either on the job or in school.
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Old 04-22-2008, 06:33 PM   #4
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Thanks for the book recommendations. A friend of mine recommended "Culinary Artistry" and I picked it up the other day for it's charts on food flavour combinations -- really helpful.

I agree that experience is the best teacher. Unfortunately, I don't plan on working in a professional kitchen, so learning technique has mostly been about cooking with friends, making multiple versions of the same dish, and watching cooking shows (PBS's Julia Child collection has been a real boon). Are there any other cooking shows that demonstrate that anyone knows of? Any books that are good for learning about a specific cuisine? Something like Julia Child's Mastering The Art Of French Cooking but for Italian or German or Scottish, etc.
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Old 04-22-2008, 07:05 PM   #5
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I looked into LCB here in the Twin Cities, and found tuition came to about $50K, basically a 18 month program. Now, knives and chefwear are included in the price, but for my situation, it was a bit too rich for me.
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Old 04-22-2008, 07:14 PM   #6
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I am trained at CIA, and certainly the Professional Chef is a great text and more. But there are others...ACF (American Culinary Federation) has a text as does the FCI (French Culinary Institute) and Jacques Pepin has a technique book of his own.

As for a course of study, many schools have their syllabus on line or available by request for interested prospects. Also, the CIA has all kinds of professional material available through their Pro-Chef continuing ed dept.

Not all of this is free btw...A school's written curriculum is copywrited material.

THe Cordon-Bleu schools are local culinary schools that follow a program established by the French Cordon-Bleu.

There are professional baking and pastry texts.
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Old 04-22-2008, 09:36 PM   #7
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Jacques Pepin's Tecnique is a great book you can now get the technique and method books in one book in the 1970s they were two separate books but are now combined in a reprint I got the combined at Jessicas Biscuit Cookbook site for about $ 18.00 I learned many years ago how to make a perfect Pate Chou and perfect merinques dried or other wise plus so much more from those books. They do have photos to illustrate what you are trying to do plus classic french recipes as well .
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Old 04-22-2008, 10:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whole milk View Post
Thanks for the book recommendations. A friend of mine recommended "Culinary Artistry" and I picked it up the other day for it's charts on food flavour combinations -- really helpful.

I agree that experience is the best teacher. Unfortunately, I don't plan on working in a professional kitchen, so learning technique has mostly been about cooking with friends, making multiple versions of the same dish, and watching cooking shows (PBS's Julia Child collection has been a real boon). Are there any other cooking shows that demonstrate that anyone knows of? Any books that are good for learning about a specific cuisine? Something like Julia Child's Mastering The Art Of French Cooking but for Italian or German or Scottish, etc.
Jacques Pépin has a fabulous set of tapes/cd's available. google him or French Culinary Institute.

I've taken courses at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. They don't give recipes as we know them, just the formulas and you have to watch and write down the method. At the end, you have a whole book full of recipes that you have filled in all the blanks on. Very personal and valuable!
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Old 04-23-2008, 01:16 AM   #9
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i've attended Chef school & plan to return soon. i'll write more 'bout that later when i'm less sleepy.
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