Verbal flogging by chef instructors, normal or cruel?

In the latest string of culinary school tongue-lashing books, author Jonathan Dixon recounts his daily verbal whippings in Beaten, Seared and Sauced. Whether it's Dixon's regurgitation, Johnson's Uncut, Ruhlman's The Making of a Chef, or Flinn's The Sharper Your Knife, the stories are all the same: students were yelled at and humiliated by their chef instructors while attending culinary school. But Why? And are all culinary schools full of egotistical dictators that feel the need to cut students with razor-sharp tongues?

No.

My chef instructors used a different approach - they were mentors, offering encouragement, advice and help when we needed it. They allowed us to make mistakes without berating us, and instead offered firm guidance; all without raising their voices and making us feel like the dirt on a russet potato.

So, back to my original question: why yell in the first place?

Theories abound. Some speculate it's the "old school" chefs doing the yelling because "that's how they learned." Others claim a verbally-abusive chef is ego-driven, needing to knock students down in order to feel important. The most popular theory is that instructors only yell at the stupid students. And that makes me wonder what that says about the authors mentioned above because they all seem like smart folks.

Does being yelled at make you a better chef?

Perhaps for those who need the discipline, much like a young person enlisted in the military might need harsh rules and consequence, the yelling works. But for the majority of students, from a recent poll, could do without the yelling.

I wasn't yelled at, spit on, degraded, humiliated or made to feel inferior at any time during my term semesters. I attended an accredited culinary program, learned and practiced the foundations of cookery while being exposed to classical, international and regional cuisines, butchery, cheese-making, garde manger and wine pairings just like anyone might experience in culinary school. I graduated with honors, have a successful career and turned out just fine without flogging-by-spatula.

What's your experience? Do your instructors inflict humiliation at every chance, or are you from a school of mentors?

 

 

 

Featured Culinary Schools

Searching Searching ...

Matching School Ads
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.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
Le Cordon Bleu Schools of North America , Online (campus option available)
  • Its first location, in Paris, officially opened its doors as a culinary school in 1895.
  • Teaches students by having them spend significant time in the kitchen practicing precision techniques.
  • Provide hands-on training from instructors who are certified, master chefs.
  • Offer flexible schedules and online programs.
  • Has 30 schools worldwide, spanning 5 continents, including 17 campuses in the U.S.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
  • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
  • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
  • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
1 Program(s) Found
  • Offers more than 150 self-paced, career-relevant programs that are connected to a supportive 24/7 online community of students and faculty.
  • Profiled in many publications such as The Boston Globe, Fox Business, and  Inside Higher Ed.
  • Nearly 25,000 graduates each year.
  • Accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
  • Founded in 1890 in Scranton, Pennsylvania    
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses