February 9, 2015

Veterans at Escoffier

By: Ryan Hodros, Culinary Arts Student

I’ve written about veterans in the culinary industry in the past, interviewing Mr. John Garcia about the pros of veterans at Auguste Escoffier and discussing Paul Ryan’s time in uniform.  But I rarely talk about plainly about the positive things veterans get out of time in the kitchen.

When I first got out of the Navy, I immediately attended Colorado University and quickly discovered that lecture style courses are hard.  Not because the material is difficult, or because the school itself is flawed, but simply because being surrounded by hundreds upon hundreds of strangers (between me and the exits) was much more stressful than I expected.Ryan1

My first weeks at Escoffier, by contrast, were as personal as you can reasonably get in an education.  There were 14 students in our class, plenty of one-on-one time with Chef Suzanne, and a relaxed yet structured environment where you knew what you were supposed to be doing at all times.

As time went on however, the most comforting thing about Auguste Escoffier is that the school is constantly seeking to improve.  Several weeks ago, Chef Kirk Bachman, Campus President of Escoffier Boulder, emailed me regarding veterans at Escoffier.  He asked for suggestions on improvements for the school and what they can do in order to make Escoffier more vet friendly.

To be clear, Escoffier was already vet friendly—the small class sizes, the speedy resolution of GI Bill® and tuition issues, set schedules, uniforms, titles, etc…the culinary world and the military world overlap in many ways.  But Chef Kirk and the rest of the administration don’t sit on their laurels and are looking for ways to get even better.  That’s not the sort of thing you’ll find in many educational establishments.

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In an exciting turn, Chef Kirk and I are discussing me becoming a part of the Escoffier Boulder team in order to make the school even more vet friendly.  I have a number of ideas, including liaising with the VA hospital in Denver to list out benefits ex-military might not be aware of, discussing vet programs with other schools in the area in order to exchange of ideas, putting together a step-by-step “how to” for applying to Escoffier…my first days with Escoffier will be packed.

But for any veterans out there who have dreams of becoming a culinary professional, it’s worth taking note that Escoffier isn’t here to just churn out cooks—they’re interested in a comfortable and nurturing educational environment for everyone, and they’re taking extra steps to make that a reality for those who have served.

This is hopefully going to be the first of many entries concerning veterans at Escoffier.  I am hoping to start an e-newsletter for anyone interested in veterans affairs, aggregating stories of veterans issues throughout the country.  (Luckily, some of my writer friends are also veterans and have expressed interested in writing for my newsletter.)

So for the moment stay tuned—there will be more on this topic coming soon!