Tuesday, September 02, 2014

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Two Valley culinary schools, alike in dignity... and delicious French cream sauces. Which will reign supreme? 

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Chef Jon-Paul Hutchins of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Scottsdale, left; Chef Dominic O'Neill of the Scottsdale Community College (SCC) Culinary Arts program, right

Joe Dunham, a student at Le Cordon Bleu Scottsdale, chose his culinary school based on reputation. “Le Cordon Bleu is such a prestigious name,” he says.

Corbie Thorpe, enrolled nearby at the Scottsdale Community College (SCC) Culinary Arts program, agrees that Le Cordon Bleu has the “pedigree,” but was ultimately swayed by low tuition and transferable credits. “My goal is to attend ASU and get a bachelor’s degree. I need my credits to go with me,” she says.

The Valley of the Sun has several respected culinary schools (see sidebar on page 119), but two in Scottsdale seem naturally matched as rivals – not only for their mile-and-a-half proximity to one another, but their equally impressive alumni rosters and wildly disparate tuition rates.

In the publicly-subsidized corner: the plucky SCC Culinary Arts program, which was launched 28 years ago and has graduated Valley superstars Aaron May (The Lodge, Over Easy), Tracy Dempsey (Tracy Dempsey Originals) and Conor Favre, who recently replaced Michael O’Dowd as executive chef at Kai at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa.

In the for-profit corner: Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Scottsdale, formerly known as the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, alma mater to James Beard award finalist Kevin Binkley, Barrio Cafe matriarch Silvana Salcido Esparza, and Rich Hinojosa, executive chef at The Wigwam Resort. Owned by Career Education Corporation, the Scottsdale campus is one of 30 Cordon Bleu schools worldwide, including 16 in the United States.

Both programs churn out an annual crop of bright, ambitious culinary aces. Both have rigorous academ

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