My newsfeed has been flooded with links to articles on the closing of Le Cordon Bleu campuses across the US, most of them posted by alumni that graduated Le Cordon Bleu Orlando alongside me. I have read every one.
There have been plenty of explanations as to why the schools are closing.
Students have come out of the woodwork citing dismal experiences, the inability to find gainful employment enough to pay off their tuition costs. The response is intense scrutiny from the public eye — tuition, Career Education’s financial status, high drop-out rates.
Headlines like, “Feeling The Heat!” and “Recipe For Disaster!” have popped up as suggested links on the sidebar of my Facebook page. A heavy flood of dismal and discouraging things have started to spread over the masses, to people who would normally have no opinion on the outcome of a culinary student’s education.
I have no new facts to offer on this topic. I have no control over people’s opinions or Career Ed’s decision. But I can tell you from my own personal experience, I have nothing but praise to sing for Le Cordon Bleu.
It is a shame to watch these schools close. Given the opportunity to go back and make the decision over again, I would choose LCB in a heartbeat.
I spent my entire high school career gunning for culinary school. I had scholarships lined up for Johnson and Wales. I had pamphlets galore from the Culinary Institute of America. I had visited my local community college programs multiple times.
Ultimately, I made the decision to attend Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, Florida. I wanted to go to school somewhere far from home, and I wanted to work for Disney.
Walt Disney World Resorts hired me straight out of the pool of eager budding LCB culinarians like myself. In fact, many of the big restaurants in Orlando frequented the school, filling their entry level positions with students.
I never regretted my decision to attend culinary school, and I never regretted choosing Le Cordon Bleu. I had attentive instructors who were straightforward, often very blunt, incredibly talented and cared about their students.
Granted, I am a bit of an overachiever. I never scored low marks. I am a shameless student. I love school. I was on the newly formed Student Advisory Committee, spearheading school projects and networking with advisors. I pulled a consistent 4.0. I was the graduating speaker for the culminating four classes of 2015 and walked out of graduation with an honor cord around my neck.
I am, perhaps, a bit biased. Yet in the end, Le Cordon Bleu was the best decision for me. I have almost nothing but positive memories, especially of instructors that were forward and respectful of students, teaching us not only technically correct skills but proper applications in the more difficult, less buttoned-up, ‘real world’ of cooking.
Although the schools will run through their remaining students, I am truly bummed about the decision to firmly close their doors. In a day and age where chefs are gaining more respect than ever before, it seems unfortunate that such a big institution so well-known for their fostering of gastronomic education would shut down. There will be, I’m sure, an increase in enrollment for Johnson & Wales and the CIA. Despite the fact tuition rates for culinary school are undeniably high, Le Cordon Bleu was the most reasonable option out of big-name schools. (Relative, I know.)
There will be an impact on the communities where these campuses are located, especially on businesses who pull cooks from the school. Many entry level or line cook positions have been filled with LCB enrolled students or grads. Will the world keep turning without Le Cordon Bleu and its eager students? Of course. But it will be a shame.
I know my case is not unique. I know there are other disappointed alumni. It makes us a rare breed. Alumni of a school that no longer exists.
I suppose this is a lament from a student who loved her education. Le Cordon Bleu was a second home to me, and I will never forget the education of my respected instructors, nor the influence of the students I was lucky enough to work beside. To watch something I find so valuable close its doors is, to me, a bit of a tragedy.
LCB Orlando — I can’t thank you enough for the time and dedication you poured into me. I, for one, have the pleasure of being the face of this now-dwindling organization, but I will still boast my blue medal in every kitchen I enter.
I am LCB Alumni. And I am proud.