David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Food For Thought

April 26, 2013:  Food For Thought

You may not have noticed but student protests have seized one of America's premier institutions of higher education.  No, I am not talking about Harvard and perhaps backlash from its recent cheating scandal; I reference the student unrest at the Culinary Institute of America.  Let me give you a minute to chew on that.  Finding it tough to swallow?

Well, I guess that's what these aspiring chefs are trying to tell us.  Lowered admission standards and graduation requirements, in the students' minds, result in a sheepskin that is not worthy of the worst Haggis imaginable (and I pretty much always imagine Haggis the horrible).

A focal point of the criticism related to the admissions standard is that now the school apparently accepts "as experience," time spent in "front of the house" as "waiter or busboy or food retailing."  Food retailing?  I have to side with the protesters on this one, although aren't all great meals really just word of mouth.

In addition the STUDENTS are complaining about dress codes being enforced, not the faculty and administration! What in the world? I guess having no apron doesn't fly with these students.

My favorite part of the protest is that the current crop of students bemoan "alumni who are little more than telegenic lightweights."  You can't be the next Emeril Lagasse or Alton Brown or Anthony Bourdain or Mario Batali without busting your chops, or at least basting them in a little lime(light).

The other major complaint:  the institution has expanded too rapidly, apparently from buttering up the rolls of reality-show wannabes.  I guess that similar to C.S.I., which has spurred interest in criminal justice/crime science degrees, Hell's Kitchen is enticing thousands of interested kids to the culinary arts.  (Note to self:  create "pitch" for reality show based on rural community colleges:  see enrollment problems dissipate.)

So, I can't argue that this blog has had a whole lot to say.  I suppose this has been a half-baked idea.  I will not apologize, however.  If you listen to the students at the Culinary Institute of America, half-baked is good enough to graduate.