Art Institute of Portland Block Party

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Art Institute of Portland Block Party

Image by Art Institute of Portland
The Art Institute of Portland celebrates it’s 10 year anniversary with a "Rock the Block" block party – food, djs, live artwork, live bands, and a My Pretty Portland film contest.

Find out more about The Art Institute of Portland: www.artinstitutes.edu/portland

Photo: Lulu Hoeller

Question by Adam K: Do you recommend the Art Institute of Washington for a culinary degree?
I want to open a restaurant and was wondering if you recommend any culinary schools in DC or should I just not bother with culinary school. I am not sure if going to a school like Art Institute of Washington or Stratford University will be a waste of time and money or not. Do you recommend a school/program.

Best answer:

Answer by NiceOne
Well, I certainly would not recommend the Art Institute of Washington for a CULINARY career. The Art Institute teaches visual arts, not cooking. ;-)

But you probably meant to ask about the Culinary Insitute of Washington. The son of a good friend attended there, and he is earning his living as a chef (at a country club, in his case), so he thinks the training and skills he developed there were good.

Unfortunately, that is not the whole answer, because I think you need to ask yourself a question first: Do you really want to work in a restaurant? The hours are a killer. You have to be working in the evenings and on weekends, because that’s when people go out to eat. Unfortunately for you, it’s also the time when *you* would like to be going out, not necessarily to a restaurant. And the pay is not great, especially at first. So this has to be a labor of love. If you really want to learn to cook imaginatively, a good cooking school is the way to do that. But the desire has to be inside you–no one, and no school–can put it there.

Even if you want to work in a restaurant, you also should think about what you want to do. Is cooking the whole point? If so, then a cooking school, whether the Culinary Instute of Washington or some other place, is definitely the way to go. But if you could be happy running the business of a restaurant–working the front of the house, for example–then you should seriously think of a program in hotel and restaurant management. The best known, and probably the actual best of these, is the one at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Another excellent program is at Johnson and Wales college in Rhode Island. Johnson and Wales is much easier to get into than Cornell. And there are plenty of other good programs around the country.

On the other hand, if you want to cook, there is little question that the most famous cooking school in the country, and one of the best in the world, is the Culinary Institute of America (known by its initials as “the CIA”). The training there is pretty much without equal. Most of the other culinary schools, including the Culinary Insitute of Washington, pattern their names on the original CIA.

You have a lot of thinking to do, so I am also going to suggest a book for you to look at that might help you decide. In “The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute,” the author, Michael Ruhlman, describes what it was like for him to go through the CIA training program. Actually, he only stayed for part of the program, because he is a writer, not a chef, but reading the book will give you some idea of what you would be doing and help you figure out if it is what you want. I know that some libraries in the Washington area have this book, or you can get it in paperback from Amazon.

Good luck!!

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

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