Cooks in the Spotlight

Another student blogger posed an interesting question on this site, and it’s one that I've been considering myself for awhile. In Shun Slinger's post, "No, I don't watch Top Chef!" he discusses the food media, voicing concern about its influence on the industry. Specifically he writes about culinary students whose only prior kitchen experience is watching Top Chef. With this in mind, he asks the crucial question: "Is all of this focus good for the integrity of the business?"

I share Shun Slinger's concern about people who enter culinary school with images of Rachel Ray dancing in their heads, and no real sense of what cooking in a real kitchen involves. But typically, such students either wise up or drop out. It might be annoying to watch them fiddle about in class, but unless they actually work in a restaurant, they don't hurt the industry. If anything, I think the media's focus on the culinary world has helped the reputation of the business tremendously.

This point was really driven home when a French journalist visited the FCI last week to interview students about their experience. Celebrity chefs aside, she was fascinated by the respect an average cook garners amongst their peers. She explained that in France, young people aren't motivated to work in kitchens because it's a difficult, thankless job. She said that for the most part, cooks are seen as people who aren't skilled enough to work in other professional industries. She asked that if I, as a cook, was amongst friends – doctors, lawyers, secretaries – would I be regarded as an equal professional? Without hesitating, I replied yes.

I think much of the reason I could respond this way is the media's focus on the culinary world. Besides creating some star appeal, shows like Top Chef reveal how demanding, skillful and artistic the job actually is. The best cooks are combinations of athletes and artists – the job requires stamina and coordination, as well as an innovative mind and keen visual sense. One might not realize this eating in a restaurant, but with cameras and writers in the kitchen, America has a greater understanding of the skilled work that cooks perform.

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            Culinary Arts (AS)
            • Program areas include Culinary Arts, Culinary Management, and more
            • Students are taught cooking styles from around the globe, including Classical European, Asian, and Latin cuisine
            • Curriculum designed to prepare students for a career as a chef, with course topics that include Culinary Techniques, Management by Menu, and Nutrition
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
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            Intensive Sommelier Training
            • 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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            Culinary Arts
            • 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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            • Flexible Scheduling
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            Culinary Arts Specialist
            • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
            • Offers several scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students who qualify.
            • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
            • 4 Campuses located in Clovis, Modesto, and Redding in California, and Salem, Oregon.
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            • Accredited
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