Soon, the number of culinary schools in metro Phoenix will decrease by one. On Wednesday, Career Education Corporation, the for-profit company that operates Le Cordon Bleu culinary schools, announced plans to close all 16 of its campuses in North America, including the location in Scottsdale.
In a press release, the company's president and CEO, Todd Nelson, cites increased government regulation as part of the reason behind the decision and says the company tried to find someone to buy the schools but was unable to do so.
“New federal regulations make it difficult to project the future for career schools that have higher operating costs, such as culinary schools that require expensive commercial kitchens and ongoing food costs,” Nelson says. “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.
The company says students who are currently enrolled and are "making reasonable academic progress" will be allowed to complete their programs. But the schools will stop accepting new students after the January 2016 cohort begins. Career Education Corporation projects the North American campuses will stay open until September 2017.
If you're involved in the restaurant industry in metro Phoenix, then chances are good you work with or have worked with someone who attended Le Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale. The culinary school has been open for more than 20 years, though it operated under a different name — Scottsdale Culinary Institute — until 2009. According to the school's website, alumni include Kevin Binkley, Stephanie Izard (who now operates award-winning restaurants in Chicago), and Bernie Kantak. The culinary school, located in Old Town Scottsdale, offers degrees and certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking and Patisseries and is one of just a small number of culinary schools in the Valley including The Art Institute of Phoenix and Arizona Culinary Institute.
We've reached out to Le Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale, but have yet to hear back.