UPDATED Aspiring Chefs: Get Trained By Vetri, Solomonov, Perrier and More

UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, we’ve already been getting questions from folks about this new program. One of the big ones? How much is it going to cost. I can now tell you that we just heard from COOK and they have decided that the 10 students chosen for the 1st semester of the COOK Masters Program will be going FOR FREE. Yup, you read it right: 20 hours of instruction by the city’s best chefs, and it ain’t gonna cost you a penny.

This is going to be huge.

No, seriously. For all of you cooks out there–for all of you apprentices, stagiers, externs, students and passionate amateurs, all of you up-and-comers, all of you line dogs aspiring for something more, all of you broke-ass, bone-tired, hard-working, up-by-your-bootstraps white jackets banging out 200 tables a night and reading cookbooks on the dock between dinner hits… Man, do I have some news for you.

Right now, as we speak, we here at Foobooz and the team at COOK are making plans for the first semester of the COOK Masters Program: A straight-up professional cooking school designed to give 10 lucky students the experience of a lifetime as they are personally trained by some of Philadelphia’s best and most successful chefs. Here’s the pitch:

After just one year and over five hundred cooking classes, COOK, Philadelphia’s premier demonstration kitchen, begins a new chapter with The COOK Masters Program: an instructional cooking series taught by some of the city’s and country’s biggest culinary names, for students who are truly passionate about pursuing a professional career in the restaurant industry.

And just wait until you hear who the instructors are going to be…

As of today, it’s looking like the faculty will shake out like this: Michael Solomonov (Zahav, Percy Street Barbecue, Federal Donuts, Citron and Rose), Marc Vetri (Vetri, Osteria, Amis, Alla Spina), Jean-Marie Lacroix (Lacroix), Pierre Calmels (Bibou), Nick Elmi (Rittenhouse Tavern), Jon Cichon (Lacroix), Georges Perrier (Le Bec-Fin, Table 31, Georges’, Mia, The Art of Bread), Peter Woolsey (Bistrot La Minette), Michael Schulson (Sampan, Izakaya, St. James Place), Jeff Benjamin (Vetri), Aimee Olexy (Talula’s Table, Talula’s Garden), Joe Cicala (Le Virtu), Jason Cichonski (Ela). And that’s just for starters.

The specific curriculum is still being put together (though we do know that things like advanced knife skills, butchery, charcuterie, sauces, baking, pasta making and beverage pairing will be among the classes being taught), and additional chefs are still being added to the roster, but we do know three things for sure:

One) The very first Masters Program semester will begin in January with space for just 10 students.

Two) Potential students can come from anywhere–line cooks, culinary students, dishwashers, aspiring chefs… No fancy resume is necessary and applicants will be chosen by one simple criteria: a genuine passion to cook in a restaurant kitchen.

Three) The first class of 10 will be chosen by us at Foobooz, with an eye toward Philly’s culinary future. With an opportunity this valuable and rare, we’re taking it very seriously and want only the best, most dedicated, most ardent students of cuisine. What’s more, since the 20 or so hours of hands-on classroom teaching by the chefs will ideally lead to stages in those chef’s restaurants for students involved in the Masters Program, we want to make sure that we’re training up the city’s most talented, in expectation of those students someday staffing the kitchens that make this city great.

So think about it. When else will you get the chance to learn how to make pasta from Marc Vetri? Or have Aimee Olexy teach you about cheese pairing one week and Pierre Calmels talk about charcuterie the next? Where else will you have the chance to get yourself in front of Philly’s best chefs and learn while among the city’s best students? If you are committed to a career on the high end of the restaurant world, a chance like this won’t come around every day. And for most cooks, a chance like this will never come around.

All of which means, you’re going to want to stay pinned to this site because, soon, we’ll be announcing the specifics of the curriculum and exactly how and when we’ll be taking applications for the 10 available slots.We’re giving you as much warning as we possibly can, but those of you who are truly committed might really want to start thinking about what you’re going to say now.

More to come, folks. Keep those knives sharp.

COOK [official website]

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  • Tex

    I for one am very excited to take Michael Schulson’s deep fried asian food class.
    This is huge.

  • Amanda

    OH MY GOD! That sounds amazing! I am in no way a candidate, but I am so jealous of the people who are. And so excited for them. What a fantastic opportunity. Please pick awesome people.

  • rory

    will the COOK chefs be compensated for their time? are they ever? is there going to be a fee to be in the classes?

    also, i find it highly amusing that Vetri would do this right after penning his HuffPo article about how to become a good chef that is basically the exact opposite of doing something like this. lol.

  • jenny

    curious to see what yalls criteria are for selecting the lucky ten. cook offs on cook offs on cook offs? id wish it were– as you say– truly for those with passion and not as much resume/skill-based, but with the lineup of instructors, you must have some sort of pre-requisite starting point, no?

  • toki

    Chefs get trained by Vetri, Solomonov…taunted by Perrier

  • Greg

    Not sure how Chef Vetri’s huffpo article was anything near the opposite of this…

    1. No one cares about your resume…this checks out.
    2. Don’t worry about what you get paid…this checks out.
    3. Work ethic – this checks out.
    4. Learn the basics – yep, still makes perfect sense!
    5. Don’t ever think you’re above learning from anyone…ok, are you getting this, yet?!

    Do I really need to continue here? Its reasons and people like these Chefs that Philly food scene continues to put out an amazing product and I love seeing it.

  • Anon.

    @Greg keep drinking the kool aid.
    This whole thing is so laughable and if it wasn’t so sad it would be funny.
    There is nothing different about this overhyped escapade than taking classes at COOK on a normal basis except it is free.
    First of all they are not “Masters Classes” because the word “Masters” refers to continued education by people with some established competence in the field they are studying.This is a situation where a few well known chefs are ostensibly teaching 10 people who clearly do not know how to cook with some ridiculous end goal of creating “philly’s culinary future”.
    Philly’s culinary future is working in restaurants now or are going to actual cooking schools like CIA-FCI-Johnson and Wales-Restaurant school-Art Institute.
    You guys are so full of yourselves and the idea that this reality crapshow is going to contribute to the high end food scene in any measurable way is the very definition of delusional.

  • B-Fre

    Hype. This is nothing but pure hype. Cook is a place where wealthy main line lawyers go to eat and drink. No one cares about learning anything at Cook: it’s a fetish of exclusivity. Well, there are some yelptards who buy into all the PR. Shit, the only reason Cook is still in business is because it’s promoted here on Foobooz all the time. It’s Philly Mag’s overly priced prixe fix restaurant. That is all this place is.

  • I feel sorry for any ‘aspiring chef’ in philly that tries to/goes to this shit storm.

    So Vetri – will you hire someone who completes the ‘Masters Series’ over 6 month stage at Noma?


    good grief

  • rory

    @ Greg–because you can’t learn basics by training with 10 different chefs for 2 hours a piece. Not at all. It is a name-game, not learning how to cook via the brute force of repitition and being on the line.

    In my field, many people go to 1 or 2 day conferences to learn new statistical methods with famous scholars in the field of methodology. I don’t care. Show me how you use them, think about your model, and what it means for the field. Then I care. It’s the same thing.

    and again, i ask, how much do the chefs who donate their time to COOK get paid? I ask because I heard the answer was nothing (aside from covering food prices). That’s fucking pathetic if it’s true.

  • Anon.

    @Rory I will go further to say It is actually slightly embarrassing to see chefs of this caliber pimp themselves out for the slightest amount of press especially if they are not getting paid. I cannot for the life of me think that Jean Marie Lacroix who I used to work for for 5 years thinks 10 random people can be trained for 2 hours a piece by 10 chefs to become serious cooks with any kind of potential. Something in this story it inaccurate if there is no exchange of money by anyone involved.

    Really does ANYONE need Aimee Olexy to show them how to pair cheese with a fucking condiment?

  • John Dory

    If you simply knocked on the back door of any of the above chef ‘s kitchens and offered to help out, they will most likely accept and feed you.

  • pmci

    The vitriol here is something else. Even if some of the worst things hypothesized about the classes were to turn out to be true, what would be lost to people who participate? You won’t be out any money, and 20 hours is a small time commitment. A “shit show”? At the very worst, you’d get face time with and the opportunity to ask questions of a bunch of local chefs running successful restaurants. And if you haven’t gotten any hands-on experience with, say, butchery – 2 hours won’t teach you everything but it’d be nice to get a start, right? (And, actually, like many things in the kitchen, it follows a general pattern, so if you learn even one animal well you can often extrapolate on your own from there…)

    Is this bad solely because you COULD knock on all of these doors and try to stage? I have to think that someone could commit to 20 hours and still do hands-on work at the same time.

  • Natalie

    Who do I need to sleep with to get in this program? haha. JK. I don’t want to end up like that lady who offer sex for world series tickets….but seriously? haha