Changes are on the horizon for the curriculum at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. Come the end of June, LCB will offer students the option to enroll in a 12-month culinary certificate program, foregoing the associates degree that was previously required.
According to an email from Mark Spencer, a spokesman for Le Cordon Bleu's parent company, Career Education Corporation (CEC), "Le Cordon Bleu is shifting emphasis from Associate degree programs, which also include general education courses, to a lower-cost 12-month Certificate program that focuses squarely on hands-on instruction of critical cooking competencies taught in the original Paris program. Costing the average student about $17,500, this certificate program will be much less expensive than other private culinary schools, while still offering more kitchen instruction time than offered through community college programs, which are able to offer lower tuition because they are subsidized by state and local taxpayers."
Spencer went on to explain that students will still have the option of enrolling in an associates program if they wish. In that case, the student would complete the aforementioned certificate program, then move onto a second phase that includes general education courses, two advanced cooking classes and an externship module. That program is 21 months.
Farid Zadi and Susan Ji Young Park, husband and wife team who own Ecole de Cuisine in Glendale (and write for this blog) dispute the claim that LCB's certificate program is "much less expensive" than private culinary schools, as Spencer stated. Tuition at their school, which does not include an associates degree, is $10,500.
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Another local, private culinary school, Chef Eric's Culinary Classroom, offers a Culinary Chef Program that provides a certificate after just 18 weeks of study and $2,200. Should that certificate count just as much as the one from Le Cordon Bleu, or anywhere else?
Then, of course, some would advise aspiring chefs to "just start cooking," as chef Eric Greenspan put it in a recent interview.
So if you're one of the many out there desperate to become a working culinary professional and you're not sure how to get there, all we can say at this point is, 'good question.' The road to chefdom apparently has many forks.
Follow Ali Trachta on Twitter @MySo_CalLife.