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San Diego Culinary Institute

In August of 2000, Harold and Lili Meyberg, founded the San Diego Culinary Institute with a handful of students and one very important idea: to build a better culinary school.

They wanted to build a school that taught technique, not recipes; that required each Chef Instructor to possess no less than 5 years as an Executive Chef in a fine dining environment — an astonishing minimum requirement for any culinary school. Finally, they insisted that their program offer extensive hands-on training, with limited class sizes, in well-equipped kitchen classrooms.

They began with just a handful of students and a firm commitment to this straightforward set of ideals. Since they founded the school, we have doubled our classroom space and expanded our program to teach the Commis program to our students.

Commins Programs

The Commis Culinary Method

As a student of the Commis Method you learn techniques, not recipes. You study the mysteries of flavor and learn how to engage not only taste, but all five of the senses. And learn your craft working in the kitchen, in small classes, side-by-side with your experienced Chef Instructor.

The Commis Culinary program represents the culmination of years of research and program development by some of the finest culinary educators in the country. Based upon proven methods of culinary education and incorporating current thinking on how people learn, the Commis Method leads aspiring Chefs through a more logical series of courses. This is an educational strategy that makes more sense. Each course in the series leads naturally to the next and relies inevitably on the preceding.

This is a hands-on program (80% of your studies take place in the kitchen). We believe that culinary students learn more working in a kitchen, with product. At SDCI, every student prepares food every day — no fighting for space or kitchen resources with other students. And again, you learn techniques, not recipes. With a command of foundational techniques, Commis students can execute virtually any recipe from any cookbook, rather than a limited number of dishes taught out of a cookbook.

What is commis?

A little used title in the US, the Commis de Cuisine works in the classic brigade system under the wing of the master Chef. It is the first paid position in the kitchen. As such, it represents mentorship. It represents commitment: of the Commis to develop under master tutelage and of the Chef to nurture that talent. It is in this tradition of mentorship and commitment that the Chefs of the San Diego Culinary Institute develop your talent and hone your skills.

Course Overview

Study in a logical course progression: Flavor — engage all five senses (and even a 6th). The profession — its history, concepts in organization and business. Then technique: learn to apply professional techniques to achieve rare concepts in flavor — profitably. Study nutrition, hands-on. Develop your skills through a series of carefully developed lab classes culminating in an externship in a fine dining restaurant, hotel, resort, or catering company.

The Commis Method will first lead you through foundational courses: in flavor, business, and professional concerns (such as safety and sanitation and the history of the profession).

Next students move into the kitchen to train in: knife skills; fundamental techniques — poach, braise, roast, sauté, etc.; stocks; sauces — the mother sauces, classic small sauces. Throughout students apply their earlier theoretical work in flavor and reinforce fundamental business concepts. They learn the delicate art of seasoning.

The Commis Method demands that while in the kitchen, students work in small groups, with limited class sizes. Students first observe the Chef demonstrate each new skill and then practice it under his watchful eye. Students practice culinary theory in the kitchen with product; they don't just read about it in a book or hear about it in a crowded lecture hall.

In the next sequence, students learn to apply fundamental techniques to a wider variety of proteins and classic preparations. They practice with a variety of equipment.

About Flavor

Flavor and business: the Commis Method revolves around these two essential pillars and virtually every course day in the program teaches or reinforces both. Appreciate a new concept of flavor, how to engage not just taste but all five senses, and which flavors always work together and those that don't.

After years of experience in the kitchen, the successful fine dining Chef learns to understand the intricacies of flavor, how they interact with the human physiology, how certain flavors always seem to work together as 'flavor friends' and others seem to fight with one another as 'flavor enemies'. SDCI's new concept of flavor teaches you to engage touch, hearing, smell, sight, taste — and also a 6th sense. Once you study the Commis Method, each of these senses will play a role in your cooking.

In addition, learn to incorporate business fundamentals in everything you do in the kitchen: profit and loss, marketing, kitchen design. SDCI is a professional culinary school — not just a place to learn to cook. Most of our students aspire to become Chefs. Today's successful Chef must be more than just a good cook, but must also understand how to run a business.

Commis de Patisserie / Boulangerie / The Sweet Kitchen

Each year, a new class in Baking and Pastry begins while another prepares for graduation. Graduating students prepare wedding cakes and chocolate sculpture work for their final exams and the new students almost invariably drop their jaws in admiration of the artistry of the graduating class. The new students can’t imagine themselves with the skills and the talent to create work like that. And every year the new students become graduating students. They smile knowingly at the new students and remember how they thought the very same thing when they began school at SDCI.

Among culinarians, we refer to cuisine as an art and the secrets of the bake shop as a science. There is some truth to this, but like many truisms, it only describes half the story:

Bakers and patissiers must execute their creations with a great deal of precision; a pinch too much flower or a dollop too little of yeast will completely alter your result. There is a science to it. But the most talented bakers and patissiers also master the techniques of artistry required to create pieces stunning to the eye.

As a student at the San Diego Culinary Institute, we will challenge you to master both the science and the art in your future profession. You will understand how ingredients like flour, yeast, and water interact with heat to become bread and how altering the ratio of your ingredients will change the quality of your result — even how other more subtle changes like altitude, ambient temperature, or natural yeasts in the air affect what you do. Armed with practice and training from SDCI, you will control all the variables, understand hows and whys in your work, and create a fine product.

The artistry of the bake shop comes in decoration and plate presentations. Learn the skills you need to create spectacular wedding cakes. Discover the secrets of chocolate, making fine candies, and how to mold it into a little Chef, a box to hold truffles, and much more.

The Baking and Pastry Program incorporates the same concepts of the Commis Method of study as we have introduced into our Cuisine Program. Students of this intensive program in baking and pastry emerge with the skills to create an astounding array of candies, desserts, wedding cakes, breads, plated desserts — and others essential to the bake shop.

Our students have gone on to win medals in sanctioned competition — even while still in school.

This diploma program requires 1050 hours of course work in each of the following areas of study:

Safety & Sanitation

Essential Business Concepts for the Bake Shop

Pastry and Baking Skills (1015 hours of hands-on practical training)

  • Quick Breads, Yeast Breads, and Breakfast Pastries

  • Cakes, Pies, and Tarts

  • Cookies, Individual Pastries and Petits Fours, Mignardise

  • Dessert Sauces, Dessert Containers, and Plated Desserts

  • Chocolate and Other Confections, Marzipan, Sugarwork

  • 160 hours of externship

    Graduates of this program have gone on to careers as Pastry Chefs, Owners of Bed and Breakfast operations; they work in some of the finest hotels, in restaurants, and in resorts. They work all over the world and each has emerged from this incredible program with skills and a portfolio that they never imagined for themselves.

    Come to see our program for yourself. Contact us today and discover how you could begin a new career in the baking and pastry arts.

    School name:San Diego Culinary Institute
    Address:8024 La Mesa Blvd.
    Zip & city:CA 91941 California

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