Leveling The Playing Field, One Restaurant At A Time

For the past couple of weeks I have set my alarm for 6:45 a.m., been jolted awake at an hour I do not normally experience in a coherent state, wiped the sleep from my eyes and turned on my computer, bracing myself for the most stressful 60 seconds of my day. I have been attempting to land a reservation at Momofuku Ko, one of the most popular restaurants in New York and one of the toughest to get into.

The Ko reservation system is unlike any I’ve seen before. Typically you call a restaurant, speak to a receptionist and, if the stars are aligned in your favor that day, you make your reservation. Ko only takes reservations online and getting one is a total crapshoot that involves creating a username and password, providing a credit card number before you even get into the site and having very quick fingers and reflexes.

I am beyond ecstatic to report that two days ago I landed myself a much coveted dinner reservation at Ko and while 9:50 p.m. is not my ideal dining time, I gladly accepted what I was given with extreme gratitude and anticipation.

The same day that I landed this reservation I walked in on a conversation two women were having, at the studio where I do Pilates, about how to get a reservation at The French Laundry in Napa. It occurred to me that getting a reservation at a popular restaurant is a lot like winning the lottery and if you happen to pick the right combination of criteria– in this case when you call, who you speak to, the date and time you wish to dine– you may just be one of the lucky ones.

Thinking along these lines reminded me of a Wall Street Journal article that I read a couple of years ago that was offering advice and tips on how to get reservations at different restaurants. Going back and reading the article today made me see that while there is still some valid advice to be garnered, Ko’s reservation system renders useless many of the suggested tricks and tactics mentioned in the piece. Ko’s system puts everyone on a level playing field and instead of getting a reservation based on who you are or who you know, it’s really just based on the luck of the draw.

Despite my sleep deprivation and pre-coffee anxiety, I must say that I like what they’ve done with the concept and feel a lot better with the idea of randomly losing out than losing out because I’m not connected enough. When I heard recently that Martha Stewart tried to walk in to Ko for dinner without a reservation and was turned away, I suddenly felt a small, but satisfying, sense of triumph. Perhaps I’ll invite Martha to join me there for dinner next week.

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            3 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 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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            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.
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            1 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
            • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
            • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
            • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
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            • Founded in 1979 as the Star Technical Institute school group, offering career training in drafting and design.
            • Provides education and training towards employment in the healthcare, culinary, baking, beauty, and hospitality career fields.
            • Their Fast Track Diploma/Certificate Programs can enable students to be job-ready in as little as eight months.
            • A Career Services Office helps match graduates with potential employers.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Career Schools and Colleges and approved by the U.S. Department of 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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            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
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            1 Program(s) Found
            • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
            • A private post-secondary institution of higher education serving south-central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland since 1967.
            • Offers associate degrees in specialized business and specialized technology, as well as programs leading to professional certifications and diplomas.
            • Gives each student their own career services specialist who helps keep them focused on their goals.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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            1 Program(s) Found
            • Has been training students in the culinary arts since 1946.
            • Teaches hands-on culinary training in French, Asian, Mediterranean, Latin and American cooking, along with professional baking and pastry techniques.
            • Helps students gain professional skills in culinary management.
            • Offers an Italian Culinary Arts program where students get to externship in Italy.
            • Its instructors are respected chefs who put their dedication and life experiences into their instruction.
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