More False Impressions

Over Christmas break when I was home in Michigan and finally had cable again, I was searching through the OnDemand options and found a show called “Chef Academy“. I thought it might be profiling the lives of people attending culinary school similar to that of Johnson and Wales, so I decided to try it out.

Big Personalities
Turns out the show is about cooking classes for the home cook but they are advertising it as a “culinary academy” where you will graduate with an actual certificate in culinary arts. The chef and owner of the Novelli Academy, as it is called, is Jean-Christophe Novelli, a French chef that got his start baking at the age of 14. There is no discounting Novelli’s talents, but in the show he spends most of the time with perfectly coiffed hair trying to persuade his students into idolizing him.

The Web site for the Novelli Academy is filled with posed pictures of Jean-Christophe smiling and smirking and you have to search to find a photo of just the food or the school itself.

Low Standards
On the show, the students consist of an odd mix of professions and ages and only 3 people seem to actually have the desire to cook for a living. They spend the whole show violating many sanitation and health codes: hair down, Flo Jo length nails, wiping tears from their face and then touching the food again. Its one thing to learn to make good food, but seeing these people work makes me feel like I am coming down with food poisoning!

In the 12-episodes that follow several weeks in the life of these students, they are only taught a list of 30 dishes, which is enough to graduate with a certificate from the Novelli Academy. Sure, some of the food looked tasty, but how could you possibly work as a doctor if you only know how to check for a pulse?

As a pastry chef, there is one episode that really bothered me. No one loves fresh herbs in bread more than me, but charcoal that is in the shape of rosemary? Not so much. One day at the Academy was spent making breads of all shapes and sizes. Novelli instructed the students that each piece of bread needed to be adorned with fresh herbs, basically just stuck oddly to the top. I don’t know of many people who want to eat an entire stalk of rosemary, let almost burned-to-a-crisp rosemary!

A False Impression
Calling this show a chef academy and publicizing it as a school where you can “graduate” with a diploma in culinary arts is only a detriment to the food service industry. Showing people that it is that easy to become a professional cook downgrades the hard work and talent that so many have spent years perfecting. I personally feel offended that Novelli, as a seasoned chef himself, is giving such an insult to our profession. I had hoped in the past few years as Food Network television has made this industry so much more popular that it would educate people on what being a cook and chef is really like, and the sweat, blood, and tears that goes into working in a restaurant. I fear that shows like “Chef Academy” will only continue to diminish the perception of difficulty of being a chef. I remain proud of my chosen field and have a lot of pride for the work that I put in, and I hope more people feel this way as well.

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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
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found

            Baker College is the largest independent college in Michigan with the most focused approach to education and training available. Our mission is to prepare you for meaningful employment.

            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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            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
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            5 Program(s) Found
            • 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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            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
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            5 Program(s) Found

            Sullivan University is a private institution of higher learning dedicated to providing educational enrichment opportunities for the intellectual, social and professional development of its students. The institution offers career-focused curricula with increasing rigor from the certificate through diploma, associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree levels. Throughout those curricula, the university seeks to promote the development of critical thinking, effective verbal and written communication, computer literacy, and teamwork as well as an appreciation for life-long learning, cultural diversity and the expression of professionalism in all activities. At the graduate level, the university also seeks to promote a culture of research.

            1 Program(s) Found
            Salter College , West Boylston
            • Offers training programs in preparation for professional careers in business, health care, and computers.
            • Provides associate and certificate programs in medical assisting, massage therapy, culinary arts, and more.
            • Places students in externships to gain real world experience before completing their respective program.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
            • 2 campuses in Chicopee and West Boylston, Massachusetts.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
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            1 Program(s) Found
            • Gives students the opportunity to earn their associate’s degree in the culinary arts field in less than 15 months or bachelor’s degree in the food service management field in 2.5 years through their year-round schedule.
            • Located in Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia.
            • Offers externship experiences to students for experience in the field.
            • Hosts regular career fairs for employer recruitment.
            • Has student housing available.
            • Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).
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