A Matter of Time

As a student at the French Culinary Institute, one question I'm often asked about is my opinion regarding the program's quick pace. At the FCI you can complete a culinary program in a six-month day program if you go full-time or nine months if you attend part-time in the evenings.

Each has its pluses and minuses. Both sequences move quickly.

Some chefs at the school will tell you that the program gives you a solid foundation that you can bring into a restaurant. I agree with this point. My knife skills aren't the fastest or most precise. I can't recite every classic French recipe by heart. Nor can I cook every piece of meat or fish perfectly each time. But what I do have is knowledge and recognition of how to achieve what a chef expects in a professional kitchen.

The quick program also allows you to start working sooner and make up for the money you've spent on school (around $30,000).

If there's a downside, it's the fact that so much information is packed into a short amount of time. Some students, including myself, would appreciate more time to work on our knife skills or other kitchen tasks. But I suppose one can gain all of that in a kitchen.

Sometimes I wonder if attending a two-year school (such as the Culinary Institute of America's well-known program) would be a better fit. Through my time at the FCI, though, I've discovered that nothing is more valuable than actually cooking.