Why Cook Street: FAQs

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Cook Street Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing your culinary path will certainly leave you asking some important questions. We have answered some potential inquiries that you might have about our culinary arts programs, and encourage you to reach out to Cook Street’s professional team with any additional questions.

What makes Cook Street different from other culinary schools?

Simply said, other schools talk about cooking. We cook. Cook Street has been in operation for over 15 years so we have learned a thing or two about giving our valued students a tailored and elevated Culinary experience. We are deeply integrated into the community and have earned a reputation for not only premier quality education, but for our 90% job placement rate, and success stories of our accomplished Alumni.  During both of the accelerated, culinary arts programs, you’ll taste, touch, and prepare more food than other culinary students get to do in two years. You’ll do it in an environment that’s committed to the rich culinary traditions of France and Italy, while incorporating world fusion. Cook Street focuses on the whole chef, which means that your culinary education in both programs will be broad and deep. And all Cook Street students receive pastry and wine instruction from each of the culinary arts programs to ensure their ability to prepare unforgettable meals from start to finish.

How will I know that Cook Street is right for me?

Knowledge is power and your success is our success. That’s why we invite all students who are considering launching their culinary dreams with us to take time to talk to our dedicated, knowledgeable staff and visit our kitchen to cook with our chefs and get a taste of life at Cook Street. Our students represent a diverse array of demographics, backgrounds, and career goals, but all share a common passion to develop and elevate their culinary knowledge and skill. Many students are career-changers and, as they often do not have the luxury of spending the time or money it takes to complete a two- or four-year program, find the accelerated culinary arts programs at Cook Street to be ideal. The median age of students is 30 years old; however, students have ranged in age between 18 and 63 years. Most students have no culinary experience prior to attending our programs but all emerge from the programs prepared for a variety of culinary paths.

What will I learn at Cook Street?

Our hands-on, European and fusion focused, technique-based programs means you’ll eat what you create and talk about what you create — every day. You will learn soups, stocks and sauces, pastry, fabrication, bread, wine, menu construction and food costing, and the fine art of meal planning and presentation. Expect to learn the foundations of cooking, a bedrock on which you can build your culinary career. Expect to do it with demanding, seasoned chef instructors who offer plenty of personal attention (our maximum student-to-chef ratio is eight students per chef instructor). Click here to learn more about the Cook Street 12-Week Culinary Arts Program. Click here to learn more about the Cook Street 18-Week Advanced Culinary Arts Program.

How intense are the programs?

We demand a high level of commitment, dedication, academics, attendance, and contribution. Our students are brave, engaged, and intense and they’re supported by our professional staff every step of the way. From baking bread in the morning to scrubbing floors and straightening up the kitchen in the afternoon, our intensive program brings out the best in our students and gives an entire culinary world in return.

Most culinary programs are two to four years long, why are Cook Street’s programs shorter?

Our highly accelerated culinary arts programs (12 week and advanced 18 week) focus solely on food and wine. In most other cooking schools, students attend classes for a few hours a week and take lengthy, frequent breaks in addition to fulfilling coursework requirements in non-culinary subjects such as math, business, and English composition. In contrast, our accelerated programs are intensely focused and offer great bang for your buck and allow you to choose the right program intensity timeline for your needs so you can get in, get out, and get on with your culinary dreams.

What is the difference between the 12-Week Culinary Arts Program & the 18-Week Advanced Culinary Arts Program?

Cook Street believes in giving our students options. Each student has their own unique, individual culinary path and we strive to give them the tools they need to succeed. Our culinary arts programs are both rooted in the same classic Cook Street foundation. The 18-Week Advanced Culinary Arts Program is simply said, an extension of our robust 12-Week Culinary Arts Program and is designed for those students that want to dig a little deeper. Both programs are highly accelerated and give students the opportunity to get in, get out, and get on with their culinary dreams. Here are the main differences that you can expect from the Advanced 18-Week program:

  • You will concentrate more intensively on technique repetition such as fabrication.
  • Regional menu study will become more in-depth as you cover the world’s rich culinary destinations.
  • The addition of Restaurant Week will give you the opportunity to bring real-world business and practical application to life. Write a business plan for a pop-up restaurant and prep, prepare, and serve a meal to the public with the aid of classmates.
  • Explore the community with hands-on field trips to local farms, distilleries, and restaurant supply stores.
  • The addition of a beer and spirits lecture and tasting will complement our robust wine curriculum.
  • Receive a one-year Student Culinarian membership through the prestigious American Culinary Federation Colorado Chefs Association upon enrollment, the industry’s preeminent professional chefs’ organization.

I want to be a pastry chef. Do you offer a program in just pastry arts?

Your training in pastry at Cook Street is thorough and comprehensive, though we do not offer a pastry-only program. Pastry is one component of a meal; in order to excel in this area, you must know how to incorporate desserts into the meal. A well-versed chef has more value and is able to effectively blend sweet with savory components in innovative ways. The technique-based curriculum in both Cook Street culinary arts programs keeps the dessert course in context and includes a rotation in the pastry kitchen where you will learn: tart dough, laminated dough, cake components, decorating techniques, custards, creams, meringues, bread (utilizing a wood-fired oven), molded chocolates, mousses, soufflés, and ice cream.

I have strict dietary restrictions. Do you offer vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, kosher, or allergy-sensitive versions of your program?

Cook Street’s programs focus on the traditional foundations at the core of European and fusion cooking. Though we encourage you to put your skills to great use with alternative ingredients and substitutions, our programs are not focused toward special dietary restrictions.

What certifications, licenses, approvals, and awards does Cook Street possess?

Cook Street is a privately owned teaching facility licensed by the State of Colorado Department of Higher Education, Division of Private and Occupational Schools. It is approved by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, and veterans may apply their GI Bill benefits at Cook Street. Cook Street is also an approved continuing education facility by the American Culinary Federation Foundation. Students earn 20 continuing education credits toward ACF certification upon completion of our culinary arts programs. We are proud recipients of the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation’s (ACFEF) Quality Program Approval, meeting ACFEF’s standards for quality education.

What career options will I have once I graduate from Cook Street’s culinary arts programs?

Whether they go on to own their own culinary business or work for the best in the industry, Cook Street students emerge ready to face the culinary world head-on. Our career offerings include:

  • Personalized service: With a small class size in each program, Cook Street can personally understand each student’s career goals and offer completely individualized job-placement assistance.
  • Cook Street Job Board: Restaurants, hotels, and resorts in Denver, and around the country, post job opportunities on our website and to our Alumni-only Facebook page. Only Cook Street students and graduates can access this site feature.
  • Alumni services: As Cook Street alumni, you’re entitled to everything our vast professional network has to offer. We encourage you to work your Cook Street association to the fullest.

*Please note that the title of chef is earned through a combination of hard work, industry experience and continuing education or mentorship. No culinary school student is considered a chef immediately upon graduation. Students may pursue certification as a chef by the American Culinary Federation, which demonstrates a dedication to the profession as well as a recognized skill and experience level in the industry. Graduates of Cook Street will have earned 20 continuing education points toward ACF certification.

Though Cook Street does not offer a formal degree, students receive a certificate in Fine Culinary Arts and Wine upon completion of each culinary arts program. Students interested in pursuing a degree often train first at Cook Street and then begin working in the industry, gaining valuable work experience, while they attend a degree-granting college or university.

How do Cook Street graduates compete with graduates from longer programs?

Your personal level of drive and motivation is what will set you apart; no culinary school can guarantee success if you are not dedicated to achieving your goals. Training at Cook Street will give you the tools to begin or advance your culinary career. Cook Street graduates have been hired directly out of school by such properties as Chez Panisse, Daniel Boulud, Frasca Food and Wine, Ritz Carlton and the Arizona Biltmore Spa and Resort.

Is culinary school really worth it?

While culinary school is certainly what you make of it, we see it as an investment in yourself and your future. By attending Cook Street, you join an outstanding community of foodies dedicated to excellence in their craft. We’ll give you the techniques and knowledge you need to accelerate and succeed in your culinary career, turning you into a true competitor in the field. After all, there’s nothing quite like diving feet-first into something you love. The highly respected culinary arts programs at Cook Street give you that footing.

Do you offer federal financial aid?

While Cook Street does not offer federal financial aid, we will work with you every step of the way to secure financing that works for you. Our team has helped find thousands of dollars of private financing and scholarship for Cook Street students. Click here to learn more about financial aid options.

Culinary Arts Program Success Story: Justin Kent

Justin Kent, garde manager

Justin Kent, garde manager

While living in Denver, Justin Kent worked for a sales company and started to take recreational classes at Cook Street. As he began to disengage from his job, he sought out a new career — something he was passionate about; something that would keep him energized and engaged. At the recommendation of Chefs John and Erin, Justin did a Chef for a Day, and the decision was made. Justin enrolled in the December 2010 Professional Culinary Program and graduated in March, 2011.

After graduating, and while planning his wedding and a new life in France, Justin wanted to work in French cuisine. He approached Chef Patrick DuPays of Z Cuisine and staged at the restaurant for several months. It was another stage, however, in his hometown of Santa Fe, that proved most fateful. Justin had worked with a chef there who knew he was pursuing a culinary career and wanted to move to France. That chef had gone to school with Alain Passard, the chef owner of L’Arpège, a Michelin three-star restaurant in Paris. He offered to make an introduction for Justin. The rest, so they say, is history.

L’Arpège has been a three-star Michelin restaurant since 1996. It has also been on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for several years, coming in as number 16 in 2012. Known for his focus on seasonal vegetables from the restaurant’s two gardens outside Paris, Alain Passard removed red meat from the menu entirely in 2001. “Working with Alain Passard is really, truly incredible. He shows up at service, creates new dishes on the fly, and never the same dish twice. When I think of the famous chefs that have worked in this restaurant over the years, I know what an honour it is to work here,” says Justin.

Justin began working at L’Arpège in October 2011 as a commis de cuisine. Since then, he was promoted to garde manager. “We start around 8:30 in the morning and set up our stations with cutting boards, compost bins, and then I’ll go down to the walk-in to see what vegetables we have. I’ll start formulating an idea for the amuse bouche. Garde manager also does the first three appetizers on the menu, and turns into the pastry station at the end of the service, so I’ll start making purées, infusions, fruit preparations and infused pastry creams. We also prepare garnishes for other stations. For example, we do a velouté topped with a Chantilly mousse infused with Speck, now infused with smoked herring, so I’ll make the mousse infusion. L’Arpège has no carryover food. We make everything fresh every day. We’ll also try out different recipes for the next season and then get ready for lunch service. “

“After service, we clean the stations, and then we have an hour and a half break. We’re back in the kitchen at 5:30 and we prep for the dinner service. Infusions, purées, caramel — whatever I didn’t get done earlier will get finished now. Dinner service starts at 7:30 and we have two services. I’m usually home around 1 am, but Fridays are our busiest nights and tonight it was 2:30 am.”

So, what’s next for Justin Kent? He’d like to seek out a position with 3-star hotel restaurants, and eventually return to the U.S. and continue his journey in the kitchen. Considering the brilliant start to Justin’s culinary journey, we have no doubt it will be a long and successful one.

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