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In December 2015, the notably popular Le Cordon Bleu culinary school announced that it would begin to gradually shut down all of its U.S. schools. The process has begun, with the discontinuation of enrollment for any new students (while remaining open until 2017 for students who are already enrolled and underway with their education).
Le Cordon Bleu in Paris became well known for teaching Julia Child how to cook, and since then it’s been responsible for turning aspiring chefs around the world into true professionals. So after all these years, why are the 16 U.S. branches closing, and what does the future of aspiring chefs look like when it does?
A Culinary Education Costs Big Bucks
Le Cordon Bleu received both praise and criticism from its students throughout the years. With the foodie movement in full swing, the school has been known as a convenient way for Americans to get an excellent education in the culinary arts. With a stellar reputation (after all, what aspiring chef wouldn’t want to follow in the footsteps of Julia Child?), this 115 year old culinary institution has allowed newbies to the food world to become first class chefs, managing their own kitchens and living out their culinary dreams.
Unfortunately for many (who have to drop out due to the high tuition), that’s not always the case. One of the biggest criticisms of the school has been the onset of too many graduates, without any post-graduate job and with high student debt (according to the 2014-2015 Le Cordon Bleu catalog, students pay between $16,000-44,000 a year), that’s a hefty price for a starving student to pay—even if they get to eat the food they cook.
Making the Transition From Student to Sous Chef
Despite the U.S. closing of Le Cordon Blue, aspiring chefs have more opportunity than ever to make their culinary dreams come true. Culinary degree or not, the foodie movement isn’t going away anytime soon, which means for anyone who is aspiring to make their love and passion of cooking into a reality, there are many different avenues one can take.
Buy a food truck, and have total creative control over what you cook, and when. Work your way up from line cook to sous chef to executive chef with a restaurant you’re devoted to, or go into business for yourself as a personal chef, where you design and cook meals for families in their home. A true chef doesn’t stop cooking when his school closes instead he or she finds another kitchen to cook in.