While in New York, I posed as a perspective student and got a tour of the French Culinary Institute, which is a huge school (much bigger than Le Cordon Bleu). It is, however, typically American in that all the countertops are stainless steel (pastry countertops are, in the European tradition anyway, granite or marble). Tuition is twice that of where i attend, but the possibilities for internships are absolutely amazing.
During the course of my tour, we visited the storeroom, where JACQUES PEPIN just happened to be hanging out. This is a man whose biography I read three times, scrawling notes in the margins and dog-earing more than a few pages, standing right in front of me (shorter than I expected), wearing a chef’s jacket and grey striped pants. I tried to play it cool, but I almost wish I hadn’t so that I could have gotten a photograph.