I can’t say that I grew up in the kitchen watching my mom or grandma cook. The truth is that almost nobody in my family likes the kitchen, and I never thought that one day I would dedicate myself so much to cooking.
After getting married, 7 years ago, the need to learn to cook increased! Even more with a mother-in-law who is a full-time cook. I started to realize that it was the missing piece! My husband was transferred to the USA, and from there to Switzerland and I had the opportunity to expose myself to different cultures and with that, different types of cuisine.
In Switzerland I ventured out, put my passion into practice and started a business making birthday cakes and cupcakes. And as I predicted, I loved it! And I don’t want to leave the kitchen anymore!
Back in the USA, I enrolled at the Culinary Institute LeNôtre (www.culinaryinstitute.edu) in Houston, TX and that’s exactly what I want to share with you!
Seeing Danielle’s vlog, which in fact is fantastic, I loved knowing that she is also at LeNôtre, but in Paris! And for those who are more friends of English than French, love cooking and would like to make that passion a career or even a personal achievement, LeNôtre here offers several courses, both in cuisine and in confectionery. Schools are not “sisters”, but Houston school founder Allain LeNôtre is the son of the famous Gaston LeNôtre, and brought with him all the experience, flavor and french flair!
Allain LeNôtre has already worked in Rio de Janeiro, and it was he who took Claude Troigros to Brazil for the first time to work with him in the restaurant of the old Sofitel hotel. I told him I was writing about the school and maybe I could bring some Brazilians here and he, all excited, made a point of sitting with me for over an hour telling stories and more stories! And the school really has that: a super friendly atmosphere, although serious. The fact that I felt “at home” was one of the reasons I chose LeNôtre. Other reasons were the proximity to downtown Houston, which makes it easy to come and go every day, the reputation of the school and the classes are 100% practical, in the kitchen.
I was very well received, people are friendly and always help, with correct and quick information. The LeNôtre school offers courses in Cuisine, Culinary Art (focus on cuisine but with another 3 months in confectionery), Confectionery, Management aimed at restaurant administration.
The school is not very large and each class has a maximum of 12 students who are closely monitored by the chef, who are mostly French but speak English very well. Classes run from Monday to Thursday, and you have the option of choosing morning hours (8:00 am to 12:30 pm), afternoon (1:00 am to 5:30 am) or night (6 am to 10:30 am). The duration of the course depends on what you choose to do. The average cost of the courses is U $ 25 thousand. The school supplies uniforms, equipment (set of knives, backpack, etc.) and ingredients. When paying his tuition, the student has no additional cost. The school also offers free French courses.
As the educational system in the United States is a little different from Brazil, if you already have a high school or college degree you can choose to take a 50-week course, without the beloved subjects of mathematics, geography, chemistry, etc. You can also choose to take the vocational course, which includes mathematics and everything, if you do not have a high school degree, which lasts an average of 100 weeks. At the end of the course, after completing all classes and passing all subjects, you have the mandatory internship lasting 10 weeks. The school has an agreement with the best restaurants in the city, in addition to an agreement with two hotel schools in France!
Everyday life is like being in the kitchen of a restaurant. At first I didn’t quite know which way to run, but after a week or two I understood the mechanics of the class, the chef and the school. Every Thursday the chef gives us the menu for next week, which should be studied at home. In the second, we already know what technique we will learn, what ingredients we will use. Everyone works together and the fact that the class is small makes it a lot easier, but as in any work or classroom, there is always the slack, the smart, what you find, and the others will be your friends.
Living in Houston is also great! The cost of living is low compared to the rest of the USA, and here was one of the places least impacted by the famous American financial crisis. Forbes magazine recently published an article saying that Houston is the most cool to live in the USA! (www.forbes.com/sites/morganbrennan/2012/07/26/houston-tops-our-list-of-americas-coolest-cities-to-live/2/)
Unfortunately the school does not offer housing and you will have to look for a place to live on your own. But this is not a problem here! It has a lot of offers for different prices. In general, the apartments come with a stove, refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer.
The experience of living outside and at the same time having the opportunity to do exactly what I always wanted to do is worth all the efforts, all the burns in the oven and on the stove! For me, there is nothing that brings more happiness than personal and professional satisfaction at the same time, and that I find in the kitchen!
If you want to know a little more about Houston and the school, my email is [email protected]
By Luciana Lazzari