The American Side of FCI

There are many things about The French Culinary Institute that are very French. The cooking terms and techniques are French, many of the instructors are from France and most dishes contain "a little bit of butter," as one chef liked to say as she added an entire stick to the pan. Yet I didn't realize how American in nature The FCI was until I was interviewed by Veronique Radier of the popular French weekly magazine, Le Nouvel Observateur.

I was interviewed by Ms. Radier when she visited The French Culinary Institute over the summer, and remembered our conversation when someone pointed out that I was quoted in Le Nouvel Observateur ’s article, "A la 'Chef Academy' de New York." The article features The FCI as a training facility equal in price and prestige to an American business or medical school, and emphasizes much of what has become un-newsworthy in an American publication: the celebrity status of cooks in America, the lofty dreams of culinary students and the financial success of culinary schools. In the article, I was described as a "petite brune petillante," a.k.a "a small, brown-haired, effervescent girl," who is getting a master's degree from Columbia University and has dreams of being a food writer. A student like myself probably wouldn't interest an American magazine. But in France, attending a costly culinary school with two academic degrees is still news.

As Ms. Radier and I talked in FCI's comfortable, brightly lit student lounge, she explained that the attitude towards cooks, and of cooks, is entirely different in French culture. She said that cooking was widely viewed as a secondary profession, a job that someone would do if they didn't have the smarts to be a lawyer or doctor. The current American mentality towards cooks is often one of respect and even reverence. In comparison, it lacks the celebrity appeal in France, a fact that fails to attract young people entering the profession or applying to French culinary academies. Because of this, Ms. Radier worried about the future of French cuisine in France without a new generation of leaders.

I'm grateful for my degree from FCI, and as someone who loves to cook, for the American mentality towards cooks. It's often a profession of social misfits and debaucherous party persons, but among those, there are many hard workers and even artists. We’re lucky to be considered among the ranks of the creative, eccentric work force that gives color (and taste) to our society.

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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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            • 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
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            • Students get real-world experience through the required externship at the end of the program.
            • Curriculum includes laboratory sessions, academic preparation and hands-on experience.
            • Program objectives are to provide students with skills needed for cooking wholesome, attractive, food preparations and to assist graduates in obtaining positions in the food service industry.
            • Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
            • Has campuses in Melbourne, Sarasota, and Tallahassee, Florida
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            • 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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            • 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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            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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            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.