What are the facilities and environment like?

Schedule a visit the program you wish to attend during regular school hours. You deserve a tour of all facilities that a program offers. (If they don't let you see the facilities during class RUN don't walk away from the program they are hiding something!)

Things to look for on your visit:

  • Do all students have their own work stations?
  • Is there ample stove or prep space for all students?
  • Are all students actively involved with their class work?
  • Are there enough actual food products (chicken, fish, beef etc) being fabricated in the kitchen so all students get hands on experience?
  • Is the class organized and clean?
  • Is the Chef Instructor actively interacting with the students?

Student Body

  • Ask to talk to some current students, recent graduates and if possible graduates that are established in industry. Get feedback on their experience with the program while there and after graduation. Facebook.com is a great place to do this and we hope to be implementing this into the EOL Community as well.
  • In school do the students have a professional appearance?
  • Are their uniforms clean? Are they wearing them correctly? Are the well groomed?
  • Programs that permit a sloppy appearance while in class can also be lacking in other areas. (NOTE: Schools can only control what happens on their grounds, don't hold schools responsible for what is outside of their control- i.e. off campus behavior.)

Does the program require an Externship?

Most college level programs have an externship component made up of work in a foodservice establishment.
Things to consider about an externship:

  • Is there a formal externship office that is affiliated with top notch local and national restaurants and hotels that have been screened are reviewed for quality.
  • How long is the externship? The externship should compromise no more than 1/3 of the total hours advertised for the program. (NOTE: This does NOT apply to an ACF Certified Apprentice Program)
  • Is it a paid externship? You must be paid at least minimum wage for your internship. The quality of the experience is much more important that the wages paid.
  • Are extern locations screened for a structured learning experience of true value to the student?
  • What is the nature of the establishments affiliated with the extern programs? Ideally extern locations should be in from scratch kitchens (as much as possible), not corporate chains, buffet restaurants or bars/restaurants heating up preprocessed foods and flipping burgers.
  • Is there a Brigade System in place? As a chef you need to know all areas of the kitchen. In an establishment that has a Brigade system you get to spend time getting in depth experience in the different departments and stations.  On that note-
  • Do you get to rotate through different areas? Watch out for hotel, resort or restaurant externships where you are just used for banquet work. Get a schedule in writing spelling out how you will rotate through all of the departments.