Culinary Career Scholarships Available

Sgt. Erica Melendres rolls prosciutto around an elk loin during the international team event at the Joint Culinary Training Exercise at Fort Lee, Virginia.
Sgt. Erica Melendres, a Fort Rucker, Alabama, culinary arts specialist, rolls prosciutto around an elk loin during the international team event at the Joint Culinary Training Exercise at Fort Lee, Virginia, March 15, 2018. (Dani Johnson/U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command photo)

The International Culinary Center, founded as The French Culinary Institute, has announced $1 million in scholarships that will enable American military veterans to attend the culinary school at either its New York or California campus. This scholarship program is among the largest made available to veterans interested in pursuing a career in the culinary arts.

According to the National Restaurant Association's annual 2012 report, the restaurant industry is one of the largest private-sector employers in the United States with 12.9 million employees nationwide and $632 billion in sales projected for this year. The report predicts that in the next decade, more than 1.4 million jobs will be added to the restaurant industry, making it one of the leading growth industries in the country.

"Experience from military to culinary school translates very well," said Bruce McCann, ICC school president. "The pace and style of the program [and ultimately career], its intensity and discipline levels, as well as the leadership dynamics, are very familiar for military personnel, and many find that it is a very comfortable transition based on their experiences in the military.

"In fact, the organization of the modern kitchen comes from the military. Auguste Escoffier developed the so-called 'brigade de cuisine' with chefs, sous chefs and so forth, making up a system of clear authority and responsibility in the kitchen. His military-based system remains the standard in modern restaurants."

"I'm frustrated to continue to see veterans returning home and struggling to find civilian employment," said Dorothy Cann Hamilton, CEO and founder of the International Culinary Center. "In as little as six weeks, a veteran can be employed in a job they love. Military students are among our strongest at our school. They can take the heat and the intensity of the professional kitchen. By offering these scholarships, we welcome veterans to the International Culinary Center with open arms."

"For anyone leaving the military, the culinary world prizes similar values, and the International Culinary Center is the most prized of all culinary institutions," said Capt. Michael Hrinyak, military veteran and graduate of the International Culinary Center's classic culinary arts program, currently working at Bouley restaurant in New York City. "Uniquely with the International Culinary Center, a person will learn the skills necessary to be competitive in the field and within six months be able to put those skills to use in the commercial market."

Said McCann: "Whether they are into wine, cooking, cakes, there is something for everyone. Really any of our programs from classic culinary arts, classic pastry arts, the art of international bread baking, cake techniques and design, and restaurant management and intensive sommelier training make a good fit for veterans. Also, the total immersion hands-on career programs are a good fit, because vets are trained and out in the workplace as little as six months for a career course."

To be eligible, military veterans must have been honorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces and may not also qualify for the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (now Veteran Readiness and Employment) VetSuccess Program.

Scholarship amounts for "the International Culinary Center Veterans Partial Tuition Scholarships" will vary by state and eligible courses. In New York, the partial scholarships, which combined with other military benefits and grants such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill, could cover up to 70% of the tuition and will be awarded for courses in classic culinary arts, classic pastry arts, Italian culinary experience, the art of international bread baking, cake techniques and design, and restaurant management. In California, the scholarships, which combined with other military benefits and grants, could cover up to 80% of the tuition and will be awarded for programs in classic culinary arts, classic pastry arts and intensive sommelier training.

The International Culinary Center is focused on teaching students all the skills and tools they need to become successful outside the classroom. The school's hands-on education has graduated more than 22,000 alumni worldwide, including award-winning chefs Bobby Flay, David Chang, Dan Barber, Josh Skenes and Christina Tosi. Its industry-leading deans include Jacques Pépin, André Soltner, Jacques Torres, Alain Sailhac, Cesare Casella, Emily Luchetti, David Kinch, Alan Richman and the newly announced José Andrés.

Extra: Tips for Veterans Considering a Culinary Career

(Courtesy of Bruce McCann, ICC)

  • A restaurant kitchen has to be efficient to be profitable. Owners cannot afford to have "extra" bodies in the kitchen. To do well in the industry, you have to carry your weight from the first minute.
  • Obtaining a foundation and the right techniques to succeed in the industry is important. But to succeed, you need more. It's not just the training, but it's about the networking and career placement that really sets culinary arts programs apart. For instance, the ICC sees an average of five job postings per one graduate annually and has a strong placement program, which all but guarantees successful placement. And that placement service is available to you for as long and as often as you want to use it, nationwide and, in many cases, worldwide.
  • Choosing a program that has a dedicated career service team is constantly posting opportunities for grads, has strong and constant contacts with the industry, and networks on behalf of its students can mean all the difference.

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