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]