March 4, 2011
This just in: Le Cordon Bleu is no longer in le restaurant biz

Who says Fridays are slow news days? Things are blowing up here in the newsroom on 21st.

I just got a call from the campus president at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Sacramento, who informed me: The student-run restaurant once open to the public has shut its doors.

Not yesterday or last week. It closed a year ago, according to Rafael Castaneda, the president who has been at the helm at the Natomas campus the past four months.

OK, so they're a little slow letting us know. They're chefs, not public relations experts.

The prez says the school is taking a different approach by closing the restaurant. Instead of hands-on, pressure-filled training at the school with the cafe, students will land externships (remind me how that's different than internships) at area restaurants.

For the general public, that's too bad. As I wrote over a year ago, the public was able to visit the restaurant, eat for free or cheap and then give a written critique. During our visit, we got mixed results, but there was plenty of good food and it was enjoyable. You just had to roll with the idea of eating rack of lamb, say, at 8:30 a.m.

But from what I heard, some of the "guest" reviews made my Morton's review look like a Hallmark greeting card. Yes, people were mean, and students were angry and flustered. Some guests didn't understand the concept of constructive criticism. Nor did they get that these were students, not pros.

Those externships will give students a different view of kitchen life -- they'll be doing mostly the kind of work no one else wants to do. That means plenty of time with brooms, rags and bleach rubbed on countertops in a circular motion. Sauces? Sautees? Not yet.

And they're not going to get a lot of sympathy from executive chefs around here.

Want to know what it's going to be like at some of the best restaurants? In the kitchen at a certain top restaurant downtown, the executive chef has a sign on the wall that lets you know where you stand:

"Your (past-tense expletive deleted, but it begins with the letter before "G" and rhymes with a certain tasty waterfowl) life is not my problem."

I'm told the chef also doesn't do hugs when you get your feelings hurt.

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