Buon Appetito

The economic recession has affected the way many of us eat. For me, it's meant dining out less often than I used to a year or so ago. But there has been an upside to things. More and more restaurants have cut prices to lure people like me who are on a budget but are still looking to shell out money at restaurants.

Pizzas, burgers, fried chicken and even Vietnamese sandwiches have come to the forefront as more affordable (and popular) options here in New York. But I'd contend New Yorkers are also seeing a plethora of choices in one of the ultimate category of comfort foods: Italian cuisine.

Places like Scarpetta and Locanda Verde have been providing people with some affordable choices but still well-executed Italian food. I think the true sign that people will pay for good Italian food is that even high-end Italian places like Marea and SD26 have opened in New York during the restaurant. In a place like the Big Apple, where only about 1 in 10 restaurants make it past the five-year mark, that's pretty darn brave.

We talked about this explosion in comfort food and consumers' desire for it. For chefs, it can be a good thing because exotic ingredients aren't always called for and the demands can be pretty simple. But for chefs who want to be more creative, it can be a drain on their motivation to serve interesting and unique dishes.

I'm torn between the two. I'm all for having great, affordable comfort food. But as someone learning to become a better chef in the kitchen, I appreciate finding surprises each time I open a menu. That said, some chefs have been able to find a balance between the two. There's David Chang who owns a number of restaurants in New York that rely on classic French techniques while producing interesting options.

I'll just keep following my mantra: If the food is good, I'm willing to pay for it. So tonight I'll treat myself to some Italian food at a place I've been meaning to try. I hope it's worth it.

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            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
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            5 Program(s) Found
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
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            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
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            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 12:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
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            L'Ecole Culinaire , Kansas City
            • Offers educational opportunities for the aspiring, career-minded chef.
            • Students are trained by professional chefs and spend the majority of their final term working in the campus restaurant to learn all phases of the culinary industry.
            • St. Louis campus offers new Food Truck Entrepreneurship courses.
            • Has a student-run food truck that tours around St. Louis.
            • All campuses have a public restaurant where food is prepared and served by students.
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            1 Program(s) Found

            Lackawanna College is the premier, private, accredited two-year college serving the people of northeastern Pennsylvania. With a focus on keeping higher education affordable and accessible to our immediate community, Lackawanna draws 80 percent of its student population right from our own region.

            With a main campus situated in downtown Scranton, Lackawanna’s expanding footprint also includes satellite centers in Hawley, Hazleton, New Milford, and Towanda.

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            Virginia College , Birmingham
            • Instructors are typically real-world professionals with many years of experience in their career fields.
            • Ranked #3 in Best for Vets: Career & Technical Colleges 2014 by Military Times.
            • Presents the full tuition cost up front. In most cases, even textbooks are included in the total price.
            • Provides career services associates to help students review their resume, provide career counseling, help with job searches, and more.
            • Has 27 campus locations across the southern United States, plus offers online degree programs.
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