FAQ: Student Life at Le Cordon Bleu





I get a lot questions, both online and in person, about LCB so I thought I'd compile a list for any prospective applicants and curious readers. If there's something you're still wondering at the end, feel free to message me.

Why LCB?

I found that most culinary programs in the US last 2-4 years*, and after finishing up my undergrad degree I just wasn't down for more years of schooling. So LCB's ~9 month program really appealed to me. It's the alma mater of chefs like Julia Child and Giada de Laurentiis and, besides, it's in Paris!

*Longer programs are more well-rounded in the sense that the curriculum typically includes the business and management aspects of the industry; LCB is strictly about learning traditional recipes and techniques. So if you're serious about cooking school, do lots of research to get a sense of what you want out of your education.

Do you need to have experience?

No. Many students come in as amateurs (i.e. home cooks and bakers looking to take the next step), although some will have had previous culinary education and/or have worked in restaurants before.

How do you apply?

Online. You provide your personal details and compose a personal statement; if you've applied to college it's a pretty similar process except that you don't need recommendations. You do not, as some people have asked, need to send in a sample of your work.

The school doesn't release statistics regarding acceptance rates, but there is a hefty nonrefundable application fee (700€ as of 2011) that I'm sure is at least partly designed to keep less serious applicants out.

Is housing provided?

Unfortunately, no. After you've been accepted, the school will provide a list of resources to find housing, but for the most part these are simply real estate agencies. This shouldn't be a problem if, like some of my classmates, you're changing careers and have years of savings in your bank account. For people like me, who have been students for most of their lives and aren't so financially endowed, agencies are prohibitively expensive.

If your French is good, Appartager, Le Bon Coin, pap.fr and Se Loger are all useful websites for finding rentals or flat-shares. It is also possible to find sublets on Airbnb. Stay away from Craigslist, though, because 98% of the ads are scams - the people who post there know that most visitors to the site are foreigners and will try to take advantage.

Just for reference, the school is located in the 15th arrondissement between Vaugirard and Convention on Metro line 12.

Do you need to speak French?

Technically no, but you'll have a much better experience if you do. Classes are divided between demonstrations and practicals, but there is only an English translator present during the former. Most of the chefs speak - at best - limited English. And trust me you'll get better marks (if that's important to you) if you speak French and can suck up to communicate with them. If you anticipate doing an internship after graduation, then you absolutely should be proficient in speaking.

What are classes like?

Demonstrations take place in a classroom-like setting, with the chef up at the front going through the designated recipes for the lesson. Practicals take place in kitchens where you must reproduce said recipes.

What is the schedule like?

It depends. If you enroll in the Grand Diplôme (i.e. both cuisine and pâtisserie), expect to have class six days a week, 6-9 hours a day. If you're only doing one or the other, you will essentially be a part-time student. Unless you are in an "intensive," in which case your schedule will be like what it is for Grand Diplôme students. Those doing a diplôme in cuisine or pâtisserie should expect to have at least one intensive, although you should be able to choose which cycle.

And if you really want to know what it's like inside 8 rue Leon Delhomme, I suggest you pick up a copy of Kathleen Flinn's The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry.