Monday, March 10, 2008

Oregon Culinary Institute

Today I went to visit OCI. This time *I* was late to the appointment. I was late because my son's pediatrician appointment ran late, the pharmacist tech was a ding-dong and couldn't figure out his order, rushing to the car I got poopoo on my shoe, and traffic was a mess. It was A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Golly. What to say about OCI? Drastically different experience. The gal that I met with was no-frills, friendly, concise. It is clear to me that she did want to sell me the program, but I wasn't offended by the manner in which she attempted to so. All of the information was clearly laid out on the table--the tuition costs for all programs, books, and fees. She did not try to BS her way through any questions that I had that I could not answer--she simply said that she did not know the answer and could find out and follow up at a later time. The tour that she conducted did not feel like a memorized script. And the tour did not last long, as the school is not very big, meaning much smaller class size to teacher ratio.

Evidently OCI was formed by a large group of disgruntled WCI instructors. I don't know what the were so disgruntled about, but I got the distinct impression that many of the things that put me off had been complaints of theirs as well. I learned that my admissions rep., was also a former employee of WCI. I had great respect for her as she clearly did not want to defame the school, but touched on some major differences between the two. Mainly, there is enough burner space for students to work, that the curriculum is designed to teach students material that they can actually use in the field (ahem.... versus the "fluff" curriculum such as ice-sculpting and art projects of maps of the world) and the teacher to student ratio--they guarantee that there are no more than 25 students/instructor and assistant instructor.

We ended the tour near the on-campus restaurant, where I met the Director of the school, who invited me to come back for dinner. Who could resist a free meal?

So I came back for dinner that evening. The restaurant was probably half full, busy enough to see the operation but not too crazy. It turns out that I kinda knew the manager of the dining room, so I was able to get an even better feel for the whole institution. He was really positive about the place, and given my experience with this person in the past I knew that he was a straight shooter. The students, as well, had a positive, upbeat attitude. And I did notice a couple of the chef instructors, sitting up at the bar eating dinner, sipping on Mirror Pond. It must say something that the instructors are wanting to hang out after they are actually done working--most people want to run away kicking and screaming at the end of their shifts.

And the food? Not bad. It certainly wasn't anything to die for. But it was simple and good and I couldn't find anything to complain about. Ha! That's unusual for me. I had various breads, lentil soup with bacon and creme fraiche, blood orange fennel salad, sauteed trout, and a rich chocolate cake. How refreshing that I didn't put food in my mouth and immediately wish I hadn't!

So far, the school is at the top of my radar. There is certain considerations that my husband and I must make (you know, finances, scheduling.... the little things) before I make any kind of decision. We'll see.


Unknown said...

So is it still on your radar? Tell us more more more...