Q & A Ferrandi

I have received quite a few messages from people asking my opinion about culinary arts schools in Paris, and about the profession in terms of what to expect, etc…However, despite being more than happy to respond to all of them, I thought perhaps it would be more efficient to write a short page on it. So…to all of you who are considering a career-change into cuisine or pastry, who are considering going to culinary arts school and are considering doing it in Paris, the information below might help.

I am sure though that I might not respond to all of you queries so please feel free to contact me for more information!

Q: I’m considering going to Ecole Superieure de Cuisine Francaise Gregoire- Ferrandi (or ESCF for short). Do you recommend the program?

A: Firstly, ESCF is a school run by the Chamber of Commerce of Paris and offers 13 professional programs ranging from boulangerie, patisserie, cuisine (cooking), and charcuterie. There are also short-term programs being offered in June 2011, there are programs just for adults, or for kids as young as 14 too.

Personally, I attended the full-time program for cuisine (there is the same one in Pastry as well). It was an “Anglo program” aimed at adults with class sizes up to 12 people and was taught in both English and French. The age bracket was quite large ranging from as young as 18 to no limit. I believe this program to be excellent in terms of content, the chef (your professor’s) commitment – someone who is also highly professional and very demanding. The program is intensive; it was a 9-month program cut down to 5-months so you will learn a lot in a very short period of time. Some found it tough, some found it easy, it all really depends on you.

Compared to other years which had a different timetable, mine was full-time from Monday to Friday for 5 months which is then followed by a 3 to 6 months internship at a restaurant. So about a year of training and learning. In school, we had theory classes that were followed by cooking techniques 4 days a week (lasting 5 hours); the one day a week we don’t do cuisine is when we have pastry, boulangerie (offered 2 times in the course) and charcuterie (offered 1 time in the course) classes. We also had wine, cheese and wine pairing classes every 2 weeks. For more solid training and innovative ideas, we ran the school’s restaurant kitchen every 2 weeks – there were real customers, most of them regulars and we would see first-hand how a restaurant kitchen works. Obviously, the speed of the kitchen is much slower than when you go work professionally but it’s a start. Another treat was the day (usually a friday) where we prepared a ‘regional menu’ for our class which was very useful to us foreigners living in Paris since it enabled us to learn about produce from different regions of France and use them as they would in that specific region. We would prepare a 5-6 course tasting menu and by 1 pm would sit together and try the food and wine together. Like a family!

The school also prepares culinary field trips which include Rungis (one of the world’s biggest markets – not open to the public), Reims in Champagne region and this past year our class spent 3 days in Brest (Brittany, West of France). We were also treated to a guest Chef, Yann Plassard (a Michelin-star Chef from Brittany) who came to show us some of his recipes in his restaurant (which we were fortunate enough to eat at during our 3-day trip).

At the end of the program, you will earn the school’s certificate after passing the practical exam. Everyone passed and got their certificates at the award ceremony. Congrats! The “Anglo program” can also prepare you to pass the national C.A.Pexam (see question below about the C.A.P). It’s not mandatory and you must understand French to pass this test. A few of us took this additional test anyway. Some of the other programs at Ferrandi require the student to pass the C.A.P exam.

Q: What is the C.A.P? Is it necessary to take the exam?

A: The C.A.P is an acronym for le Certificat d’Aptitude Professionelle (Certificate of Professional Aptitude) which is specific to France only and represents the level of qualification that a worker has in a specific profession. And, in Cuisine, there is a practical exam & written exam (math, history, literature, etc).

Q: I don’t have a European passport. Can I stay in France, and can I be hired?

A: To work in France legitimately, you need a visa if you are not French or an EU citizen. You can also work with a student visa — this will help you for your internships or part-time work (your visa restricts you a number of hours of work a week). However, once this is over, it gets a little tougher.

One option is to find a company (entreprise) to hire you and thus sponsor you. However, there are a lot of administrative steps to be taken and sometimes they might feel it easier to just hire a local. In big hotels, they have the finance and time to process paperwork. It’s not impossible but it’s not easy either.

As a side-note, Ferrandi is a very well-known school in France. When I tell people (not only people in the profession) that I went to Ferrandi, they almost unanimously say “it’s the best culinary school; students are always well trained there”. I’m not just saying this because I went to the school.

Q: How does Ferrandi compare to other programs in Paris such as Le Cordon Bleu, or The Ritz-Escoffier program among others?

To tell the truth, I can only respond about why I chose Ferrandi….

Before deciding on going on ESCF-Ferrandi, 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, patient & available to explain the program to me. Deciding on Ferrandi was very easy as I understand what was offered, what to expect – though obviously the kitchen at the Ritz is beautiful!

Unlike Le Cordon Bleu (which is also much higher in prices), I knew that at Ferrandi I would spend a lot of time in the kitchen and not sitting on theory classes. This makes it more hands on-type of program. There are 5 selling points that made me choose: 1. hours spent inside the kitchen, 2. internship placement and Ferrandi contacts, 3. class size, 4. course content and teaching approaches (I had the best Chef/professor every – Stephane Gabrielly) and 5. cost – much better than other programs.

Alain Ducasse also provides courses and I read that he opened a school with major Chefs like Joel Robuchon but I cannot tell you more than that. I know cost is much higher.

Basically, if you want professional training and opportunities afterwards, I highly recommend Ferrandi.

6 Responses to “Q & A Ferrandi”
  1. darcia nunes says:

    I was a pastry student at the Ferrandi school and I highly recomend the school. It has a great program where you learn a wide range of old fashion ( but extremely important) and new techniques. My only recomendation is that if you want to learn more about very specific tecniques, like sugar and chocolate show pieces, that you take an a la carte class at some
    schools . They are usually 4 days of intensive work and cost around 1,200 euros each. The Bellouet Conseil is a great school for that.
    This is not only for students at Ferrandi, any program you choose ( Ritz, LCBleu…) you will be in the same situation.

  2. DAD Gross says:

    Have a wonderful vacation Love Daddy

  3. dad says:

    Miss Indiana Jones-nice cover for travelers magazine

  4. Ellag says:

    Jade you look great and wish I am with you

  5. Hi Jade,
    I’m in doubt about taking the French Cuisine course at Ferrandi or taking several small courses there and at other schools. Could you please give me your e-mail so that I can send you all my rational and questions, please?
    Thanks so much,

    • Hi Jade,
      I would like to thank you so much for all your attention on answering my long list of questions around six months ago by e-mail. You’ve helped me choosing the Anglo Program and I’m happy that I’ve made the right choice. Classes started this week and I got Sébastien De Massard as my chef/professor. I’m enjoying it so much and have already cut two fingers! 🙂
      Thanks again!
      Best regards,

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