Culinary schools in Europe

Why Culinary School

P1010037Well now it has been some time since I posted here. There are a few reasons for that, one is that my fall fishing season fizzled. I started the year off well, Stripers, pufferfish, Kingfish, on to trout, big Catties, and some sharks, ending with bruiser blues, a nice doormat flounder in the surf, and even some Weakfish. Then……nothing, zero. Oh, and the second thing, I moved again. This time to Charleston South Carolina. Long story, not for today. There is something I want to talk about today that has been bugging me for a bit now.

One of the last things I did before leaving Killadelphia, was I was asked to speak in front of a group of people from the city’s school board to defend Culinary Schools. You might remember me mentioning this last spring in a post about how I agreed and disagreed with Anthoney Bourdain’s chapter in his book. In there he is against going to culinary schools for a variety of reasons. Well, he shares a view with quite a few people, not in the least, those thinking of entering into one.

As many of you who read this blog, are aware, I myself went to a culinary school, and I defend that action quite a bit. One of which, is that I was taught by European chefs, who, for better or for worse, went through hell to learn their craft and trade. Then they came here to work, and eventually teach those of us who wanted to learn that trade and craft, as well as the history and and the geography that went with it. When one takes on a culinary education, one does not just learn to “cook”, he/she learns valuable traditions of countries that they may, or may not have been old enough, or financially able to visit. The history of that area, and that country, of whose cuisine you are learning that particular day will be taught as well. The more curious of us will seek out more information, sometimes even traveling to that country and area, to lean it. This being one of the many reasons (the big one for sure) I defended going to culinary schools.

But then something happened in the nineties that put a black cloud over these institutions. The Europeans were replaced by a younger crowd of American teachers. Some, I am loathe to admit, were not really good chefs, making them not really great teachers as well. This started to put a stain on culinary schools. Then something else happened in this country as well. The rise of big name marque chefs. There had always been big name chefs in America, some of American decent, some from Europe, but now the new dogs were generating buzz outside the industry, not just in it among our peers. Television, big book deals, over the top “in” places to eat, multiple separate restaurants opening by the same person, generated a lot of press, and a lot of money.

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