Monday, August 31, 2009

ESCF - Ecole Gregoire Ferrandi - Culinary Arts Schools in Paris - Part 2

To continue from the prior post on this rather lengthy topic....more Q&A on cooking schools in Paris, and on a cooking career in general...

Q: Do you think the French will be willing to hire an American with a certificate from Ferrandi?

A: You need a work visa to work in France legitimately, if you are not French or from an EU country. You can also work in France legitimately if you have a student visa. As a student, you can be hired for internships and part-time work (with a restricted number of hours of work per week) without any problems, it seems. However, once school is over, it is a challenge to find a legitimate job here without that work visa. I've witnessed "travaille noir" (illegal work) without the visa, but it's not necessarily steady or reliable, and if in a restaurant, I've seen people move from place to place to avoid problems. Despite that, I would say this is fairly common practice.

The other option is to try to find someone (a company) who will sponsor you. This can be difficult because oftentimes the french companies/restaurants themselves don't understand all the administrative steps that are required to process the work visa there's a cost to do it's easier for them to just hire a local. Other companies, usually big hotels & such, have the right staff who are well trained in processing the paperwork. I have seen a couple examples of sponsorships it's not impossible! It's just not necessarily easy. This hasn't been a problem for me since I am married to a Belgian, and that gives me the work visa I need. (I'm very fortunate.)

One more thing to add. Based on my experience, when I tell people (french people in the profession) that I went to Ferrandi, their eyes all light up, and they almost unanimously say "that's a great school; that's the best; students from there are well trained". I'm not exagerating. Other french people, not from the profession, haven't heard of Ferrandi!! They are the type who probably know more about "les grandes écoles" (France's equivalent to our Ivy League).

Q: How does Ferrandi compare to other programs in Paris such as Le Cordon Bleu, or The Ritz, or

Difficult for me to say. I can only respond about what I prefer & why I chose Ferrandi....

Before deciding on Ecole Gregoire Ferrandi (called Ferrandi for short), I visited Cordon Bleu & The Ritz. I didn't get a good vibe from either places, but the manager of admissions for the Anglo program at Ferrandi (Stephanie Curtis) was very welcoming & extremely available to explain the Anglo program. My decision was actually easy because I could understand what the Ferrandi program would offer (which I explained in great detail in my last post; refer there if you want to know more!). With the other programs, I didn't clearly understand what they were offering as far as content goes....however, their fee schedules were crystal clear! And, oh yeah, the kitchen at the Ritz LOOKED awesome! (It is a very, very beautiful kitchen...)

The strongest selling point for me at Ferrandi was the amount of time spent actually learning in the kitchen. Ferrandi offered the most hands-on learning time in the kitchen. When trying to decide on which school to attend, I used these criteria: (1) total hours spent in the kitchen, (2) class size & student-to-chef ratio, (3) placement services for internships & work, (4) course content (what skill level will you leave the program with - which techniques do they cover?) (5) teaching approach used (Is it demo only? Do you work alone or on teams?), (6) Reputation of the school. And of course, (7) cost plays a big factor, but that's easy to understand from all programs.

I don't know anything first-hand about the Ducasse program, the pastry program in Perpignon or any other program!

View from Ferrandi's 4th floor - early morning when everything is all calm & peaceful in the world! Just wait a few hours when you find out there is no cream cheese in the delivery & you're trying to make American style cheesecake for 35 covers (people) for the restaurant's lunch menu!! That's when the fun begins!


Anonymous said...

Hello, nice blog post. Very informative. I have three questions:

1) What is the cost of living? I'm worried about how to pay the rent, etc. Did you get financial aid?

2) I'm unsure whether I want to go with the cuisine or patisserie after finishing. If I did the cuisine, would you say the patisserie portions were good enough where one would feel comfortable doing only that?

3) I don't speak French, but plan on taking a beginning course. Do you think that is okay for the Anglo-class?

Thanks in advance!

Anonymous said...

did you get that over at squidoo? because i saw a similar article there..anyhow well done writing non the less.

girlcookinparis said...

No, I didn't get this over at squidoo - I wrote it myself!! :) I never went on squidoo before - if you find the article, I'd be interested in seeing the link! Thanks for visiting!