Graduated: 2008, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts (formerly Western Culinary Institute)
Degree: Diploma in Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts
Current Position: Owner, Savor Communications
What does high-tech corporate communication have in common with culinary school?
Nothing. And that is exactly why Jennifer Fields chose to study culinary arts at Western Culinary Institute. But not with high hopes of becoming a top chef, rather, because she had always loved to write.
"I remember speaking to my admissions representative about what I was looking for and it seemed unique to earn a culinary arts degree, and to not be a chef," recalls Jennifer. "I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in food writing and I wanted to have the professional training and knowledge that chefs do to go out and write intelligently about the many facets of the food world."
Jennifer researched a few schools in the Portland area, but was drawn to Western Culinary Institute due to its training in Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts. She felt the Le Cordon Bleu program had the prestige and reputation and the ability to provide her with the important foundational skills of French cooking techniques.
"Now that I am out in the world and talking with chefs and magazine editors, I think the fact that I have formal culinary training makes me stand out," explained Jennifer. "I can go into a restaurant and see braised rabbit with sautéed chanterelle mushrooms and rhubarb gastrique on the menu, and know how that dish was prepared and what it should taste like."
Jennifer learned that culinary training is hard work and not the glamorous life TV culinary network shows often portray. It’s tough, physical and dirty. Your back aches, and your ankles get sore from the hours on your feet. And because of experiencing this environment first hand, Fields gained an even deeper respect for the industry.
Her favorite class was Meat & Seafood Identification and Fabrication where she took apart more chickens than she ever imagined possible; filleted a slew of fish and completely dismantled a squid. "We ground meat and made strands and strands of sausage. I was really taught to respect the food and appreciate where it came from. It might sound gory, but I felt so incredibly close to the source in that class and gained an appreciation for an important food source," she says.
Western Culinary Institute helped Jennifer land an externship in the food section of Oregon’s only major daily newspaper – The Oregonian. She also started her own business, Savor Communications, working as a freelance food writer and communications consultant. Her daily foodie adventure blogs can be found at www.savorit.blogspot.com.
Jennifer plans to hone her foodie writing skills, and also expand to travel writing, and one day hopes to edit a food magazine. "I'm constantly looking at trends in the food industry and want to know what the next big thing will be. That's what's so great about the culinary world – it changes daily."
Career success will depend largely on the effort put into studies, job search efforts, experience and attitude. The experience of this alumnus is not representative of all students. This graduate story is unique and may not represent typical experiences or outcomes for our graduates. Graduates should expect to pursue entry-level opportunities in their chosen fields.