Today’s Food Newsbits: Western Culinary Sued for Fraud, USA Bocuse d’Or Semi-Finalists Announced

According to the Oregonian this week, local food school Western Culinary Institute is being sued for fraud and unfair business practices by a former student. The plaintiff, Jennifer Adams, alleges that WCI misled students by withholding true income data of graduates, noting that “70 percent of Western’s 2007-08 graduates earn less than $22,500 a year.”

Her suit maintains that prospective students aren’t told before enrollment that their diploma would mostly get them low-wage, prep and line-cook jobs. She contends they could get such jobs without WCI’s training.

Should Adams win her lawsuit against the school, which charges upwards of $41,000 for a sixty-week course, the verdict would affect close to 2,000 current and previous WCI students.

On Monday, twelve national culinary stars were announced as semi-finalists for team that will represent the U.S. at the next Bocuse d’Or event. Each of the chefs named will compete with a sous chef by their side in early February 2010 for a spot on the 2011 American team.

This year’s twelve semi-finalists are:

Luke Bergman, The Modern, New York, NY
Danny Cerqueda, Carolina Country Club, Raleigh, NC
Michael Clauss, Daily Planet, Burlington, VT
Kevin Gillespie, Woodfire Grill, Atlanta, GA (Also a Top Chef finalist!)
James Kent, Eleven Madison Park, New York, NY
Mark Liberman, Roxy’s Black Sheep, West Palm Beach, FL
Christopher Parsons, Catch, Winchester, MA
Jennifer Petrusky, Charlie Trotter’s, Chicago, IL
John Rellah, New York Yacht Club, New York, NY
Jeremie Tomczak, French Culinary Institute, New York, NY
Andrew Weiss, The Chef’s Workshop, Las Vegas, NV
Percy Whatley, The Ahwahanee, Yosemite, CA

The international event showcasing top chefs around the world, dubbed the “Culinary Olympics”, takes place in Lyon, France every two years. Last year, the U.S. team, headed by The French Laundry’s Timothy Hollingsworth, came in sixth place, the highest that a U.S. team has placed in the event.

For more coverage on the road to Bocuse d’Or, check out writer Andrew Friedman’s blog, Toqueland. Friedman is the author of the newly released, Knives At Dawn, a behind-the-scenes look at the team of pros who represented the country at the 2009 Bocuse d’Or competition.

~Jennifer Heigl

2 replies on “Today’s Food Newsbits: Western Culinary Sued for Fraud, USA Bocuse d’Or Semi-Finalists Announced”
  1. says: averagebetty

    Interesting law suit. I went to UCLA and graduated with a degree in Art History. I’ve made more money in food entertainment than I’ve made selling paintings or working in museums. I guess my opinion is: create your own reality.

    Oh to be at The Ahwahanee in Yosemite right now. I know it’s probably freezing but Yosemite is my personal Disneyland 🙂

  2. says: jenniferhh

    You know, it’s a complaint I’ve heard from many chefs who’ve attended culinary schools.

    I think the school experience is great for folks who are interested in learning the educational side of things – more of a by-the-book experience – but I always recommend that if someone really wants to be in the kitchen, they should just get in the kitchen. Start at the bottom, work your way up, learn hands on. Much like traditional colleges, too many students pay for the degree and then realize the profession itself doesn’t fit them as well as they thought it would.

    Also, don’t become a chef if you’re in it for the fame and fortune. 🙂

    I still haven’t been to Yosemite. I’ll have to do a California food tour. LA, San Fran, Napa Valley…

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