ICE vs FCI--Amateur Throwdown!
I'm changing careers into the food industry, and want to exhibit some savoir-faire in the kitchen--I'm not entirely a novice, but need something that will look good on the resume, as well as teach me some skills I can use. I have no intention of becoming a chef, but will be working with them in some capacity on the financials end and would like to speak their language as well as have some certificate or something that can buy me some street cred.
Thus I'm looking for a good amateur cooking class program. I'm quite frankly balking at the cost of the La Technique class at the FCI, but will suck it up if it means that industry leaders will look more kindly upon my business-heavy CV. Can anyone vouch for the ICE's Fine Cooking courses for being as well-regarded? Which school on paper says: he may be an MBA-doink, but may understand us and our needs after all?
Don't know if my suggestion is as good as the schools you have looked at but David Bouley holds many cooking classes in his new venture (davidbouley.com) It's more of a spectator course but if your looking to meet chefs and learn their language David Bouley is the king.
I took both La Technique I and II at the French Culinary. The first - 110 hours - was intense and quite thorough in teaching knife skills, culinary terminology and techniques. Basically, it was an abbreviated version of their professional course, without the tests. The second course built on the first but seemed more recreational. I've taken only a couple of recreational classes at ICE - actually, it was years ago, back when it was still Peter Kump's small school in a walk-up on a side street in the upper 90s, near 2nd Avenue. The classes were entertaining, but they were nowhere near as informative as FCI. I doubt the situation at ICE is quite the same now. Be that as it may, I can recommend FCI with no reservations, even given the cost.
For full disclosure, I went to and worked at ICE. While working there I was an assistant in many of the Techniques courses. Tech 1 is pretty basic with each day focusing on a different cooking method, like a day for roasting, braising, grilling, egg cookery, etc. The classes are pretty chill and usually very social yet still informative. I worked in the classes before I enrolled as a full time student and I think that observing the techniques classes gave me a real leg up when I started school. Hope that helps.
I took the Fine Techniques 1 at ICE and enjoyed it. Like a previous poster said, it is a bit social (nice to treat it almost like a night out). You learn the basics of cooking. I still use one or two of the techniques/recipes I learned in the class.
I'm not sure what is the position you're seeking in the food service industry, but I'd imagine that you'd do well to talk to folks who are doing similar work to the kind you'd be performing to obtain their insight. I'd guess that both ICE and FCI would provide you with basics to enable you to converse with food industry folks. See if the schools offer an information session (I think ICE does).