Lament of a Le Cordon Bleu Alumni

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.

998745_10201313052848919_818875982_nStudents 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. 1013233_10201325986452251_413799925_n

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.

12395_10201313126970772_642459974_nI 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 559737_10200457009208363_1369650342_nculinary 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 1982237_10202972348450272_3390432160077902463_nmakes 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.

Toast & Tiny Spaces

My shoebox apartment, after almost three weeks of building Wal-Mart furniture and investing in things like Swiffers and dish towels, looks lived in.

Thank goodness. The bare walls and echoing silence were driving me bonkers.

Granted, it’s messy and unfinished, but it’s home. Portland, you’re stuck with me.

As promised: tiny kitchen photographs! (This is truly the entirety of the space. Not just the kitchen… the whole apartment.)

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Were you to stand in the middle with your hands on your hips, you’d take up all the room, elbows brushing both walls.

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A handful of my favorites: biographies on Julia Child, all of Ruhlman’s work, Mark Kurlansky’s Salt (personal favorite) and a few other gems that I reach for regularly. The rest….

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… are being repurposed as bedstands. Multitasking!

The walls are still empty, filled only with twinkling lights (I moved in during the holidays, which means lights are everywhere and cheap to find) and a big chalkboard. And that’s all.

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Since I own one cast-iron hotplate, I am making one-dish meals with finesse. Like French Toast Sticks.

Hold onto your hats, ladies and gents.

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The recipe is so easy I’m going to just show you pictures.

Ingredients:

4 slices of bread/toast IMG_2251

1 egg

3/4c milk

1 T butter

1/4c sugar

1 1/2 t cinnamon


Directions:

Step one: cut up your toast. (My knives are all packed away so I used kitchen shears. This is the first time I’ve cut even remotely straight lines.)

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It is important to note that if your bread is already stale and kinda crunchy there is no need to toast it. Since I am broke and can only afford cheap, processed breads, they need toasting to withstand being coated.

Combine one egg and about 3/4c milk. Beat well together.

Gently coat your toast sticks in the egg batter, coating evenly without dunking soggily.

In a pan over medium-high heat, melt a tablespoon of butter. Lay your coated toast sticks in the pan and let them sizzle happily until golden. (Fun fact: I have only used homemade butter since my post on butter here and it makes everything I cook seem cool and artisan.)

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Remove from pan. While still warm, roll in cinnamon sugar mix. (1/4c sugar + 1 1/2t cinnamon.)

 

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I topped this batch with cranberries, sliced almonds and chocolate, but it’s endlessly customizable. French Toast is the best. It’s fast and delicious.

Anyway, one-pan meals are becoming the norm. I’m having fun looking at barebones foods and creating dishes from them. There is a list of recipes in a tiny tin box on my counter that will all eventually end up here, in your hands, where hopefully they’re put to good use.

Bon Appetite!