- Gift certificate to a restaurant. Select a fancy restaurant in the couples' home town. Place the gift certificate in a pretty card and write a note suggesting that they enjoy a meal together to celebrate their six-month anniversary. (For those couples who prefer to register for special dinners, you can do so at FoodieRegistry.)
- Cooking classes. There's tons of awesome culinary classes out there, select one that suits the cooking style of the happy couple. If the bride and groom are really into cheese, purchase tickets to a cheese-making class. Likewise, if they're adventurous, present them with passes to a butchery class.
Graduate schools are a great way to switch careers or advance the one you have. I talked about the most common reasons to get a grad degree, and my new school series will give you a quick glimpse of what options are out there.
Think you have what it takes to be the next Anthony Bourdain? Well, why not start off where he did, at the Culinary Institute of America, a cooking school that's based in New York. As a graduate, you'll be part of the school's elite alumni network, which boasts of Alinea's Grant Achatz, Chipotle CEO Steven Ells, Iron Chef's Cat Cora, and the list goes on. Jennifer Purcell, one of the associate deans at the CIA, told me more about the famous culinary school.
SavvySugar: What can a typical student expect to experience at the CIA?
Jennifer Purcell: A class day may start at 7 a.m. and end around 1:30 p.m., and that’s for a kitchen course. [Expect to] stand on your feet and cook, and kitchens are warm! They can be long days, but we also have sit-down lectures, courses and classes, but the bulk of our coursework is culinary. You’re in the kitchens, and repetition is key, because it’s how you build your skills. The classes are sequential so your building blocks of starting with basics and you build on those throughout the program until you end up in the CIA's four public restaurants. The whole experience is to synthesize all of your training and put it into action in a live restaurant.
To find out about the common misconceptions people have of cooking schools, read on!
- 31 delicious recipes for making the perfect pizza at home.
- 31 delicious recipes for making the perfect pizza at home. — Epicurious
- Another commercial, this time for Doritos, makes fun of a Mexican stereotype. — Eat Me Daily
- Find out how packaged guacamole stays green. — Chow
- Go behind the scenes at the French Culinary Institute's final exams. — The Feedbag
- Everything you need to know about making your own spice blend. — Serious Eats
- Hot or not: food tattoos — Eater
When I asked your opinion of Paula Deen, I noticed some interesting comments about what it means to be a chef. Many people get angered when the term is used to describe a celebrity (especially Food Network stars) who never attended culinary school.
How do you feel about the matter?
If several hit television shows, a video game, Michelin star restaurants, and cookbooks weren't enough, Gordon Ramsay is planning to launch a UK chef academy. He's doing so in order to fight what he sees as poor standards of UK catering colleges. If the folks on Kitchen Nightmares (UK) are any indication of the standards, then maybe Gordon's onto something. At the recent opening of his new restaurant in Prague, Ramsay said:
I’m fed up not just with the [National Vocational Qualifications] standards, but at what’s coming out of our catering schools. I want to set up my own modern day apprentice scheme, where students will experience everything from a most amazing pub, to a one, two, or three Michelin starred establishment."
At a time when many folks are questioning whether or not culinary schools are a waste of time, do you think it makes sense for Gordon to open his own?
I was listening to NPR the other day, when I heard a story about how many white-collar professionals are swapping their power suits for aprons. The folks behind Sprinkles Cupcakes did it, and they're not the only ones. In fact, the California School of Culinary Arts just added their first evening and weekend patisserie program. Rebecca Mars of CSCA, said:
"They're now wanting to pursue maybe a passion they've always had... Now they've seen some success with other businesses like Sprinkles, and they've seen that they're successful and think they could probably be as well."
Why folks are doing this, no one's really sure. Maybe it's because everyone is currently "self-medicating" with sweets, and people want in on the trend before it's over. No matter what the cause, I think it's fantastic. Although it does make me wonder just how many cupcake shops one town needs...
How about you, would you quit your job and go to pastry school?
A few weeks ago PartySugar and I were supposed to meet Top Chef's resident ice queen — yes, the one from Food & Wine magazine — only she never showed up. Instead we met the wonderfully sweet, surprisingly goofy Gail Simmons. So how does someone so nice get such a bad-a** reputation? Turns out it's all due to editing, but we'll get to that later.
We met Simmons, who was in town for a wine festival in Sonoma, at Boulettes Larder for a picturesque breakfast at the Ferry Building. And while she wouldn't divulge any Top Chef secrets — except to say that a lot of the blogs have been wrong, something that was obvious last week — she did offer up a few behind the scene tidbits, as well as the rundown of her career — and yes, she is perfectly qualified to be a judge.
If you've ever wanted to know more about this Top Chef judge, check out part one of our interview with her. And be sure to come back next week for part two! read more
So you're thinking about fulfilling your culinary dreams by going to culinary school and getting a dream job on Food TV. Turns out you're not alone. Right now, a record number of aspiring chefs are enrolling in culinary school (some of which charge more than $20,000 a year). However, many graduates are finding themselves up to their eyeballs in debt, working long hours, making low wages at entry-level jobs. To learn more about it, read more