April 2, 2014

Escoffier Walks Beside You

DSCF0144By: Ocean Babin, Pastry Arts Student

About a year ago I was living in France, studying French and hoping to go to culinary school. It was about that time of the year that I starting researching schools online and by word of mouth. One of the things that I learned about schools in France, is that they are a bit ageist. I was told that if you are over 30 it is hard to get accepted, but I did not let it deter me.

I searched online and found a few in France, but as I went down the list of schools that appeared in my Google search, I became disappointed in the prices and the programs itself.

Finally I clicked on Auguste Escoffier Culinary School of Arts, which was about the sixth one that I found. I was surprised it was in English, but I thought it was clever to use English to gain students from abroad. As I looked over the site I realized that it was not in France, but it was located in the U.S. This information discouraged me, but I continued reading, then I saw that the school was located in Boulder, Colorado. I quickly searched for it on Google Maps and found it was near Longmont, the village where my friends from Hungary had moved the previous year.

I wrote the school to request more information and they quickly responded and set me up with Toby, a senior national admissions representative for the school. Toby contacted me and arranged a Skype interview with me. He spent a lot of time with me, answering my many random questions and asking me pertinent questions to asses whether or not I was a match for the school and to see if I knew what I would be getting myself into.

DSC_0078I filled out the application for the school and started looking for ways to afford the tuition.  The school has a financial aid department which is very helpful through the whole process. I applied for grants through the government, which I received a nice amount to help toward my tuition, but first I had a small amount on an old student loan to take care of. I was fortunate because quite a few friends helped me by donating or loaning me money to pay off my old debt, so I would be eligible for a new student loan and grants. It is amazing to see which of your friends will help you in your time of need.

I needed to have a reference letter from a friend and my best friend offered to write it. I was really surprised to read what he had written about me. Sometimes it takes something like going to culinary school to realize how a friend sees you from their point of view.

During this whole process of getting a reference letter, applying for student loans, packing my whole life to move to the U.S.A., saying good-bye to many friends, worrying each day if I would actually be accepted or get enough money to afford the tuition and many other trials, tribulations, even some heartaches along the way, the school was there for me. I say the school, but it was actually Toby, my admissions representative. I would write him often, while I was in the process and he would write me back quickly. He would reassure me and tell me to not worry about getting in or not, not to worry about the financial aid or any other aspect of the process, that it was his problem to worry about.

As you can tell from this blog post, things worked out for me, in regards to getting accepted. I have five more weeks left until I finish the Pastry Arts program, then I will go out to work on my externship. I do not need Toby as much as I did because the chef instructors and fellow classmates have become my support system, but Toby is still there if I would have needed to talk or just to say hello. I am happy that I decided on Escoffier because I have seen from the beginning of my journey, from Toby to Chef Amy to Chef Kelly and to various staff members, that Escoffier is not only behind you, but they walk along side you, encouraging you to succeed.

One thing that prospective students can also do to help with financial aid or grant, is to apply for one through the school. You can make a video of you cooking and possibly win money towards your tuition. Contact Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts for more information.