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L'École Culinaire???

I just moved to the city of St Louis MO with the intention of atteing Le'Cole Culinaire. I have toured the schools facilities, observed students in class, dined with one class on their project, and have decided to attend there. But I am curious as to if anyone has heard of Le'Cole Culinaire and if there is any comments good or bad on it? I hope to actually begin classes within the next year.

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  1. It hasn't been around long enough to have a good reputation, but it is an branch of Vatterott College. I felt the instructors were very good, but the way the program was set up was focused on making money. The schedule is very restrictive and doesn't leave a lot of room for having a full time job if you need money. I'm eager to see how the graduates do.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Merrittduncan

      I just graduated from Lecole and what i say is u get out of it what u put in. Im satisfied fro right now...if u want to learn how to cook go to school. It a change the way u view food entirely, that's what it did for me. Lecole got me a great job at the Moonrise Hotel cooking at eclipse andits amazing. Probably would have never gained the experience and be able to do what I do today if it wasent for that school. Its a espensive but at least you will be able to make the money back to pay it off instead not being able to pay nothing at all..!!

      1. re: Merrittduncan

        Im doing just fine ...from the look of the path im taking my career in the industry will be pretty exciting the options for me are limitless

        1. re: Merrittduncan

          the schedule is not restrictive. you as the student have the option of choosing night or day classes and you can switch if needed.

        2. Just so you'll know, the culinary program at Forest Park Community College is supposed to be top rate.

          1. I just wanted to let you know that I know a few people who have graduated from the program at Le'Cole and one is working in Las Vegas now, one worked under a great chef at Wapango in Chesterfield and one has a great job in a bakery now. It doesn't instantly make you a chef, but having a culinary degree helps you get much better jobs in the industry and helps you move up faster. Good Luck and if you can...ask to be in Chef Sparks' 101 class. He is AMAZING!

            1. Number one culinary school is NECI, followed by CIA, and FCI in NYC. Otherwise you're quite well off moving to any "food town" and offering to wash dishes in the kitchen of a chef you admire. Invest your tuition in cookbooks, culinary travel, and cooking tools. Take a food safety course on the side for certification. Keep moving and pushing yourself into new kitchens with chefs who have the most to offer. Work two jobs. If you can't get in the front door of the kitchen you'd like to work in next, find someone who has worked their (and is still in good standing) and offer your services. Better jobs and faster tracks have very little to do with culinary school, and a lot to do with your personal motivation.

              1 Reply
              1. re: blowphishery

                I was going to stay silent on this, but I completely agree with this post.

                When I worked at Harvest, the CIA, Johnson & Wales, and NECI were all represented in the kitchen, and there was nothing they knew that I did not because of a tremendous amount of reading and dedication (two jobs for a while) on my part.

                Of those three, the person that went to New England seemed to have gotten the most practical experience out of it, but he's the only person I personally knew that had gone there.

                Speaking for the midwest, I'd worked with some people when I staged in Chicago that went to Kendall College, and they spoke very highly of that program, as do others.

                At the end of the day though, I feel like if you can't afford to go to one of the two or three top schools, you're definitely better off spending your money in another way and just working as much as possible in good places (which sometimes means getting paid little).

                I will also add that I worked with several people from L'Ecole's first graduating class, and they were less than enthused with the program. Perhaps things have changed, I really don't know.

              2. I was accepted there, I declined because the tuition was like PH.D's for chefs !!!! $45,000.00 for 10 months. Take classes at various cooking schools around the city. Save money. Learn more!

                1. I can say from experience you need that paper. But, that school is unknown and more expencive for the amount of instruction than the schools that blowphishery mentioned (and he is off on the rankings) and I know of no actual culinary ranking system by an accredited source, because there isn't one. Most of those "ratings" are by vote and therefore subjective and contaminated. I am actually a student now at almost 40 years old and after 21 years in the industry. GET THE PAPER, even if it is from a local Community College. People say "you don't need to go to school to be a chef" but the sad reality of the business is you need it or you will have trouble fufilling your earning potential. Experience talking here, and forget C.C.'s, higher end hotels, and the "Big Name" restaurants without one. I learned the hard way by moving from one part of the country to another where no one knew of the very very good west coast (so. cal.) restaurants i had built my career in. Get the paper. Just my 2 cents. All The Culinary Schools will give you back what you put in. I am glad that i made the commitment.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: buttermonkey

                    You do not need that paper. Get a job and get paid to learn unlesss you can attend one of the few top schools. There are places like Scoolcraft in our area that rant and rave about their program. A very slick way of seperating you from your $$$ and in the end it will do little for you unless you are highly motivated and have some talent. You get as much out of a culinary program as you put in. If you are motivated save your $$$ and get a job under a chef. You will learn more and most likely much faster with out being stuck in a class of people who went to culinary school because they thought it would be cool or just wanted to make mommy and daddy happy by going to college. I'm 46 today and after all of theese years I've never once been asked for my paper.

                    1. re: Docsknotinn

                      Um, yea well, i think he's in St. Louis and that is probably about like Detroit where, we are at. I don't think that either place has those great to learn at restaurants (at least Detroit doesn't any longer). And I don't feel that there is anything wrong with a formal education in the culinary arts, or any other trade. As to being "asked for your paper"... Do you list your education on your resume? Probably so. Does the gentleman need to dump $45K in STL., MO.? no. But you can't say that 20 or so hours per week for 2 years isn't worth it? no. I CHOSE to attend Scraft and feel that it is benificial (my opinion) and far from a waste of time or $$$. Scraft is actually a bargan as it is a state school. B.T.W. I knew how and what to cook before i enroled in their program. I learned how and what to cook in S.F., L.A., and S.D. restaurants. I feel that you sir may be the type of chef that says "You don't need school, just work for me, I'll teach you" Yet, when approached for a raise may say "well, I can't pay you without a degree". B.T.W., Scraft only has 3 C.M.C.s out of 70 or so in the country and a C.M.P.C. 1 of 13 in the USA. No talent there and probably nothing to learn. Just wondering, where do you pratice the craft?

                      Again pizza guy, get the paper even if it is from you local Community College.

                      1. re: buttermonkey

                        I see you like to argue. One thing I don't do is internet arguments. The only thing it accomplishes is that you wind up looking like a ponce and nothing ever gets resolved. You are making way to many assumptions and yes of course I list my degree and experience on my CV. My advice doesn't change any. You want the best culinary education you can get with a "name" that will carry some weight? Then go to one of the schools that are actually culinary schools. If you pay the $1400 or what ever the going rate is to work as an apprentice at The French Laundry or go to Schoolcraft CC (and pay far more) which do you honestly think is going to carry more weight when you move to LA or NY? In 20 years of working for major hotels, clubs and resorts I have never once given a raise nor rejected a raise based on a culinary degree. In point of fact I have never hired any one based on a degree or the fact that they are ACF certified. The #1 factor there is performance and reference. If you have never worked in a kitchen do yourself a major favor and work for a year before you decide to pump money into a piece of paper that you may never use.

                      2. re: Docsknotinn

                        I think there is quite abit more to consider to this argument. If your main focus is to only cook in a kitchen or run one(regardless of type), or own your own place, you can in fact get a great education through an "apprenticeship" approach. My experience has led me to the conclussion that a culinary degree from a sound school would trim about 8 years off of a non school path. With the cost of a degree from a good school these days, I am reserved in my recommendations to people who are looking for advice to take on this type of debt.
                        On the other side, there are vast advantages to attending a reputable program such as NECI,CIA or J&W. The doors that attending one of these schools can open are endless. You will get experience with equipment, kitchens, and techniques that you may never come across again, this helps build a great foundation. You will interact with people who will go on to do great things, and become a lifelong resource. And, this is where the "paper" does come into play, there is a whole culinary world out here that does not revolve around restaurant cooking. The list of culinary related jobs is enormous, and some of the really interesting ones do in fact require a culinary degree and often an association with related organizations. The job I currently have was achieved by holding a culinary degree and the experience. This position required both. Most all of the speciality jobs I am in contact with require a degree to even get an interview. Our field is no different than others, the more people who are interested in working within it, the higher the standards become from those who decide who they will hire.
                        I also would add that I wouldn't waste my money on a substandard program. There are culinary programs at every turn, but what you will get from them varies wildly. I would stick with a nationally/industry recognized program, as just about every local program is "the best in some area". Check out the Shaw Guide to culinary schools for more info.

                        1. re: mattrapp

                          Well said and valid points to consider.

                          1. re: mattrapp

                            Why yes, mattrapp is a man of experience, education, and reason. I totally agree with him. I need to add, Schoolcraft College is a very reputable program and not expensive. One of the best things about culinary training is the exposure and it is one of few places in the industry that will allow you to take your time and compleat projects to the best of your ability.

                          2. re: Docsknotinn

                            I hope your making good money...by the time im 46 WITH MY LECOLE DEGEE prolly be making 10 times more than you :-)

                        2. I also looked into Le'Cole Culinaire when I was looking to move to St. Louis. The price was a no-go for me. It definitely is expensive, and I was afraid that all I would learn was techniques and knowledge I could find on the internet or in a book. I'm sure all you will be taught you will learn better by starting at the bottom of a restaurant and working your way up. That's not to say that it isn't a great school, I just hadn't/haven't heard much about it yet. You will probably do better at a restaurant, but I do agree that any degree/career diploma/etc. is better than nothing at all. If you want the best, save up and go to CIA, FCI, etc. Le'Cole might eventually be just as recognized, but right now it just isn't. Good luck in whatever you do!

                          1 Reply
                          1. so, did you decide on attending? I ask because i am in the process of moving back to that area and am considering l'ecole. was the $45,000 figure correct? if you started classes, what do you think?

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: ccsh

                              I currently attend L'eCole the tuition is 37000 if you want your associates. It is a very good school you learn so much more than basic techniques. Although the school is only 4 years old the chefs there have been in the industry for 30 and 40 year. The classes are 6 hour 4 days a week. they have classes that start at 630 am 10 am 130 pm and 5 pm.you have to pick which works best with you schedule. They even Had the St. Louis Rams Head Chef come up there looking for student to work with him during the football season. SO at the end of the day is L'ecole expensive yes but what good education isnt

                              1. re: sanlouiscook

                                Which is better, L'ecole or Forest Park?? I just toured L'ecole today and was VERY impressed with the facility. Forest Park is NOTABLY more affordable; but yet L'ecole seems more exciting! I could care less about the associate's degree as I already have a bachelors in business management and marketing. Just want to further my career in the corporate grocery business as a chef developing department specialty items and recipes for consumers. Any thoughts anybody??

                                1. re: lckd23

                                  Forest park is a bunch extra stuuf you wont need in the kitchen if you tryna jump right in and fast LEcole is were to go. IT will give you the foundation u need to learn to best the best you can. I graduated from lecole in april 2010 And im walkin proof that its worth it

                                  1. re: CHef boy OG

                                    Another two cents
                                    At the point in a chef's career when you have moved far enough up the ladder to be starting to make 'real' money if you don't have that piece of paper the dudes who sign the employment contracts bumping your salary twenty grand a year are VERY squeamish about putting their reputations on the line unless they can tell the dudes who pay their salary that: "The guy had a graduate degree from XYZ cooking school! How was I to know he was a pyromaniac?".
                                    Get the paper.