Le Cordon Bleu cooking schools will be closing across the entire nation, Career Education representatives have revealed on Wednesday, December 16.
Le Cordon Bleu is the largest institution in the world providing students with solid education in fields such as hospitality management, gastronomy and the culinary arts.
Established back in 1895 as a cooking school, La Cuisinière Cordon Bleu soon became known as one of the world’s most illustrious gastronomy centers. Thanks to this impeccable reputation, the business rapidly expanded, nowadays including more than 50 schools across 5 continents.
Around 50,000 people worldwide enroll at Le Cordon Bleu every year, studying not just culinary arts and gastronomy, but also hotel and restaurant management, or wine and food entrepreneurship.
There are also short-term courses in cuisine and pastry making (Pâtisserie), one for each level of difficulty (novice, intermediate and advanced), and upon completing the full instruction graduates are awarded la Grand Diplôme.
Probably one of the most famous recipients of this certification was Julia Child, who attended the Parisian Cordon Bleu in 1950, and later developed her craft, so as to make French cuisine accessible for the American public.
Nowadays, in the United States, the institution currently has a total of 16 centers, administered by the Career Education Corporation (CECO).
However, their fate has now been sealed, since Todd Nelson, chief executive officer and president at CECO has announced that the class starting on January 4 will be the last one, and the admissions process will be halted starting from 2016.
Students who are currently enrolled at the U.S. Cordon Bleu will have to finish their education by September 2017, when the campuses will be closed for good.
Apparently, this measure was prompted by the fact that costs required for keeping the business operational are excessively steep, especially when taking into account standards imposed by the government.
Vocational programs such as the ones provided by Le Cordon Bleu involve significant investments. For instance, a wide range of recipe ingredients must be provided, so that students can develop their culinary skills by practicing regularly.
Moreover, kitchen facilities must be equipped with the latest appliances and utensils, and this also results in a significant financial burden, which remains ever-present as the years go by.
Apparently, an attempt was made by the parent company to sell the schools to an anonymous buyer, so as to keep them in operation, but eventually the deal fell through, and closure remained the only option.
It’s unclear if this decision will be met with disappointment and regret by those wishing to start a career in gastronomy or hotel management.
It appears that the previously bright star of this prestigious institution has faded in recent years. Despite the fact that tuition costs at the United States schools have climbed to a staggering $42,500 per year, several alumni have complained that career prospects after graduating haven’t actually been as spectacular as advertised.
In fact, back in 2013 the Career Education Corporation had to settle a $40 million lawsuit filed by grads who claimed that although they had been promised bright careers, they were instead earning $12 per hour working as bartenders or line cooks.
The U.S. parent company of Le Cordon Bleu faced additional pressure following the gainful employment regulation adopted by the White House in July 2014.
Through this rule, so as not to be denied federal aid, academic institutions must ensure that student loans don’t surpass 8% of the alumni’s earnings, or 20% of their discretionary income.
For Cordon Bleu graduates, this condition was almost never fulfilled, and a large number of people had been forced to default their escalating debts.
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