Le Cordon Bleu Closing

Published: December 18, 2015

Le Cordon Bleu Closing, Le Cordon Bleu, the vocational school that trains chefs and food-industry professionals, will shutter its North American campuses, including the one in Scottsdale.

Parent company Career Education Corp. announced on Dec. 16 that it will begin a gradual process of closing the schools. New students will not be accepted and new programs will not start after Jan. 4.

Students currently enrolled who are in good academic standing will be allowed to finish their classes. All Le Cordon Bleu campuses are projected to remain open until September 2017, according to the company’s press release.

“It’s a shame it’s shutting down,” said Kevin Binkley, the James Beard Award-nominated chef who graduated from the school in 1995. “It’s a tough business, even on the education side.”

Binkley said he and other metro Phoenix restaurateurs will feel the impact from the closing since they employ graduates in their kitchens. Managers look to hire culinary graduates because their education gives them a “step up,” he said. Binkley hopes other culinary programs around the Valley will step up to fill the void and that talented instructors such as Jon-Paul Hutchins, longtime instructor at Le Cordon Bleu, will start their own culinary instruction programs.

Alumni of Le Cordon Bleu Scottsdale (formerly Scottsdale Culinary Institute) include Bernie Kantak, of Citizen Public House in Scottsdale and the Gladly in Phoenix; and Stephanie Izard, winner of “Top Chef” and owner of multiple Chicago restaurants such as Girl and the Goat.

Overseas Le Cordon Bleu schools, including the Paris campus where Julia Child studied, are not affected and will remain open.

Career Education tried to sell Le Cordon Bleu, but negotiations with a potential buyer ultimately failed.

“Despite our best efforts to find a new caretaker for these well-renowned culinary colleges, we could not reach an agreement that we believe was in the best interests of both our students and our stockholders,” Todd Nelson, president and CEO of Career Education, said in a press release.

The statement cited recent federal regulations that limit federal funding to for-profit schools as a factor for closing.

The Scottsdale school received 81.5 percent of its funding from federal financial aid in 2013, the latest year for which figures were available. Based on 2012 data, Le Cordon Bleu graduates nationwide reported average annual earnings of about $21,000.


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