LCI Alumni Spotlight: Aimee Tortorich

  • By Charlie Ruffolo
  • 15 Nov, 2017

LCI Alumni Spotlight: Aimee Tortorich

The students that pass through the doors of any educational institution all have unique stories, and all take their own path. Navy veteran and Louisiana Culinary Institute alumna, Aimee Tortorich of Gov’t Taco is no exception.

Tortorich began her culinary education at the Art Institute in San Diego, California. While enrolled, her mother fell ill and she left school to return home to Louisiana to care for her. After she recovered and the time came for her to return to California, she opted to stay in Louisiana.

After researching a number of schools she toured LCI. To say she was impressed would be an understatement. It didn’t hurt that the first chef she worked for, Nathan Gresham, was also an LCI alum and helped along the way. Tortorich’s love for the competition and the local chefs sealed the deal. She enrolled as a transfer student.

What was the best part of her education at Louisiana Culinary Institute? Students were encouraged to volunteer; the faculty to student ratio was also a key benefit; and the real world competitions like the Race to Cannes, were all high points of her time at LCI.

Tortorich also offers some words of advice for current and future LCI students , “Try out as many different fields as possible. LCI offers so much. Get involved and test out every aspect from catering to management.”

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By Charlie Ruffolo 15 Dec, 2017

One common question you may have asked yourself in school was, “am I ever going to use this?” This can be a valid question depending on the topic and on the career that you’re working toward. If you aren’t going to be an engineer, you may not use calculus very often. Not going to be a chemist? Then you may not refer to the periodical table much outside of chemistry class. While an important part of a well-rounded education is having access to different concentrations and a variety of subjects, it is also important that your institution prepares you for real-world situations and life in the professional world. This is exactly what happens at Louisiana Culinary Institute .

When you decide to pursue a culinary career and attend culinary school there are the obvious skills you expect to learn, as well as the different concentrations that you are passionate about. However talk to any chef, manager, or restaurateur, and they’ll tell you that there is a lot more that goes on in the real world than just what happens inside the kitchen.

Whether you opt for a degree in advanced culinary arts , advanced baking and pastry , or hospitality & culinary management you will receive the highest training in techniques, strategy, and all things culinary. And as important as these skills will be as you begin your career, you’ll also be exposed to mathematics, English composition, leadership, accounting, entrepreneurship, and more.

These classes will prepare you for the ins and outs of everyday life in a restaurant, bakery, or hotel. Another additional benefit from a comprehensive curriculum is that you won’t be relegated to your single focus. As well as the peripheral classes that will give you the knowledge to manage the indirect responsibilities of running a kitchen, you’ll also be exposed to other concentrations as well; allowing you to know what goes into each role in the culinary sector.

At Louisiana Culinary Institute you will be prepared for each element of the real culinary world. Everything is in place from an experienced staff, to a carefully cultivated curriculum that will give you the skills and tools to be successful.

By Charlie Ruffolo 15 Nov, 2017

The students that pass through the doors of any educational institution all have unique stories, and all take their own path. Navy veteran and Louisiana Culinary Institute alumna, Aimee Tortorich of Gov’t Taco is no exception.

Tortorich began her culinary education at the Art Institute in San Diego, California. While enrolled, her mother fell ill and she left school to return home to Louisiana to care for her. After she recovered and the time came for her to return to California, she opted to stay in Louisiana.

After researching a number of schools she toured LCI. To say she was impressed would be an understatement. It didn’t hurt that the first chef she worked for, Nathan Gresham, was also an LCI alum and helped along the way. Tortorich’s love for the competition and the local chefs sealed the deal. She enrolled as a transfer student.

What was the best part of her education at Louisiana Culinary Institute? Students were encouraged to volunteer; the faculty to student ratio was also a key benefit; and the real world competitions like the Race to Cannes, were all high points of her time at LCI.

Tortorich also offers some words of advice for current and future LCI students , “Try out as many different fields as possible. LCI offers so much. Get involved and test out every aspect from catering to management.”

By Charlie Ruffolo 08 Nov, 2017

The reputation of an educational institution is directly reflected by the success and happiness of their graduates. This is an especially defining characteristic when it comes to culinary schools. At traditional universities, while there are a number of key differentiators, it is difficult to foster the creativity and energy that premier culinary schools can in their students. For Louisiana Culinary Institute alum, Christina Cox, this is exactly what drew her to LCI.

As a junior in high school Cox toured Louisiana Culinary Institute  and her mind was made up. With desires to become a chef at an early age, there was no more research to be done once she stepped foot on LCI’s campus. So what was it that made this the right choice for her?

The faculty . Of course the teachers and chefs at any institute should be a key consideration, but it was their honesty during her tour that sealed the deal. “The professors didn’t sugarcoat anything, and I loved that,” remembered Cox. They explained a simple formula: if you can get to class on time and keep up with the curriculum, then you are meant to be in this industry.


Along with supportive parents, Cox’s favorite aspect of her education at LCI was that the instructors knew where to focus. This type of industry insight prepares the students for the ins and outs of the food service and hospitality industries that they couldn’t anticipate from a textbook. Everything is timed as a well-rounded curriculum including leadership, accounting, and entrepreneurship classes.

What are a few words of wisdom that an alum can pass down to current and prospective students? “Make sure you are there before Chef Mike says, ‘Good afternoon!’ because that means you’re late. Have your uniform intact and looking nice. Be prepared the night before. Be ready.”

Christina is just one shining example of the chefs that come out of LCI. She is now a chef at the Blue Rose café in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Graduating from LCI doesn’t mean that you walk out of the doors forever. There is a tremendous amount of alumni support, which is just another thing that sets LCI apart.


By Charlie Ruffolo 31 Oct, 2017

Having aspirations to become a professional chef says a lot about you. A passion for food and an inspiration to create are at the top of that list. The culinary arts are a perfect outlet for these desires, and can parlay nicely into a fruitful and fulfilling career. But just like in most things, you have to walk before you can run. So this begs the question, “Do I need to go to culinary school to become a chef?”

While you may have been cooking, experimenting, and creating in the kitchen for years, there are skills, techniques, methods, and procedures that need to be learned. And just like it’s rare for an athlete to jump from high school to the pros, it’s difficult to become a professional chef without learning the aforementioned skills and getting experience in the industry.

Earning a culinary arts degree gives you the knowledge and experience you need to become a successful chef. It shows future employers that you possess the skills and education that they want and need in their establishments. So while this degree isn’t “mandatory” in the process of becoming a chef, it is highly beneficial.

During your time in culinary school you’ll be able to focus on the curriculum that supports the field of your choice. Do you want to be a chef? A pastry chef? Manage a restaurant or hotel? The courses in culinary school are strategically designed to equip you with the skills that you need to be successful. Furthermore, a well-rounded program will also provide you with insight to all facets of the food service and hospitality industry.

There are also skills that aren’t always thought of when it comes to becoming a successful chef. Skills you can’t always learn as you work your way up in a restaurant. Marketing, communication, leadership, accounting, and entrepreneurship skills are all critical ingredients in the recipe of becoming successful.

One invaluable benefit that culinary school offers is the opportunity to network. Your school’s partners and industry connections offer the chance to not only get your foot in the door, but gain irreplaceable experience. Furthermore, the staff at your culinary school are personally invested and genuinely devoted to your success. This means that they go above and beyond in finding scholarships , crafting resumes, arranging interviews, and helping you develop your career. These networking opportunities are entrenched in the culinary school experience and set you up for success upon graduation.

At Louisiana Culinary Institute  you can earn your Associate’s Degree in Occupational Studies in Advanced Culinary Arts with a Savory Concentration , or an Associate’s Degree in Occupational Studies in Advanced Culinary Arts with a Concentration in Baking and Pastry , or an Associate’s Degree in Occupational Studies in Hospitality and Culinary Management . Each degree program can be completed in 16 months, making the commitment to your career an efficient and valuable one.

By Charlie Ruffolo 20 Sep, 2017

On August 14, 2016, several Louisiana Culinary Institute  (LCI) chef instructors, students, alumni , and volunteers began doing what they do best. Over 45,000 meals were produced and donated to first responders, flood victims, and cleanup crews. Businesses and individuals from across the state and nation generously donated food to the LCI Foundation to make this possible: Sysco, Rouses, Hoffman Media, Manda Sausage, Camellia Beans, Gambino’s Bakery, Chisesi Brothers, Chappapeela Farms, Harry and David, Covey Rise Farms and many others.

The meals prepared by LCI were donated to the following shelters and organizations: Celtic Studios , Troop A Louisiana State Police, Baton Rouge Police Department, Baton Rouge EMS, Lighthouse Christian Fellowship, Mercy Chefs/Bethany World Prayer Center, Fellowship Baptist Church Prairieville, Louisiana National Guard Livingston, Red Cross Operations Center, Council on Aging Baton Rouge, French Settlement Catholic Church, River Center OLOL Medical Staff, Breaux Bridge Family Outreach, Livingston Emergency Preparedness, French Settlement Catholic Church, Fellowship Church Clinton, and Gonzales Mudout.

By Charlie Ruffolo 20 Sep, 2017

Prerequisites are a part of life. You have to crawl before you can walk. Tee ball turns to baseball. Middle school leads to high school, and so on. When the time comes to pursue the education that will give you the knowledge and tools to create a successful professional career, there are some things that you’ll needed to have done, or need to do to take that next step.  After high school, common requirements for college admission include a specific GPA and standardized test scores. But what are the admission requirements for culinary school ?

At the Louisiana Culinary Institute, three different curricula are offered. The Associate’s Degree in Occupational Studies in Advanced Culinary Arts with a Savory Concentration , the Associate’s Degree in Occupational Studies in Advanced Culinary Arts with a Baking & Pastry Concentration , and the Associate’s Degree in Occupational Studies in Hospitality and Culinary Management   programs all have the same requirements for admission. Those requirements are:

  • Proof of high school graduation or the equivalent.
    • Acceptable forms of proof include: a high school diploma, official high school transcripts, GED, HISET, high school equivalency documentation, or an acceptable home school certificate.
  • Complete the Louisiana Culinary Institute application, and pay the non-refundable $25 application fee.
  • Provide 3 references that can attest to your professional character.
  • Complete a short essay (500 words) that explains your desire to obtain a degree in culinary arts.
  • Complete the Louisiana Culinary Institute developed culinary math test.
  • Successfully complete the Wonderlic math & English exams. *This is only required for applicants that do not have official college transcripts showing credit with a grade of ‘C’ or higher in a college level math or English course.
  • Complete an interview with the Louisiana Culinary Institute’s Admission Panel.
  • Provide proof of citizenship.
    • Two forms of identification are required.
    • One form must be a photo ID.
    • Other acceptable forms include: a birth certificate, driver’s license, social security card, passport, etc.

Once these documents are submitted and the other criteria are met, upon acceptance into your program, there will be a $75 registration fee. If you have a passion to learn and create within the world of culinary arts, these premier programs prepare you to have professional success. By meeting the admission requirements listed above, you could be ready to launch your career in 16 short months.

By Charlie Ruffolo 20 Sep, 2017

Every career begins with education. Education can come from a variety of sources ranging from school to experience; the best education uses both. When it comes to an art form the best way to understand, appreciate, and develop the necessary skills is to dive in and get hands-on experience while you learn all of the ins and outs. This is exactly what an associate’s degree in culinary arts offers.

There is a huge variety of different professional opportunities in the culinary world. Earning your degree in culinary arts with a specific concentration is the first step toward these options. Furthermore a culinary arts degree prepares you for mid to upper-level positions upon graduation. It was with this degree that you’ll learn knife skills, nutrition, presentation, kitchen procedures and terminology, as well as business communication, and management skills. All of these combined with a hands-on learning environment will allow you to successfully enter the food service and hospitality sector.

The Louisiana Culinary Institut e  offers three different types of associate’s degrees. Each program can be completed over four semesters, in a 16 month time period. Depending on where your passion and career goals lie, you can opt for a degree with a savory concentration , a   baking and pastry concentration , or hospitality and culinary management .

Associate’s Degree in Occupational Studies in Advanced Culinary Arts with a Savory Concentration

In this program classes are held Monday through Thursday from 8am to 1:45pm. The classes in your first semester range from food safety and sanitation and professional cooking lectures to a variety of professional cooking labs. Your second semester features new labs focused around restaurant production and service. Semester three moves to more advanced professional cooking and nutrition lectures, as well as leadership and mathematics classes, in addition to more complex labs. Your final semester features more specific cuisine concentrations and career management.

Associate’s Degree in Occupational Studies in Advanced Culinary Arts with a Baking and Pastry Concentration

In this program classes are held Monday through Thursday from 8am to 1:45pm. The classes in your first semester are similar to the savory concentration, but also feature Bread Basics and an Introduction to Baking and Pastry. The second semester brings a focus to restaurant production and professional cooking, as well as catering and English composition. During the third semester desert production and cake methods will be introduced. In your fourth and final semester you’ll learn about custom cakes, confections, centerpiece design, as well as career management.

Associate’s Degree in Occupational Studies in Hospitality and Culinary Management

In this program classes are held Monday through Thursday from 8am to 1:45pm. First semester classes focus on kitchen basics and food production from a management perspective, as well as an introduction to hospitality management. Your second semester will feature entrepreneurship lessons, industry trends, accounting, and technology. The third semester will feature concentrations on management within different sectors of food service and hospitality. Your final semester will focus on communication, finances, marketing, and quality.

No matter which concentration you choose, starting your path towards becoming a culinary professional begins with an education that allows you to learn and do. This is exactly what an associate’s degree in culinary arts offers.

By Charlie Ruffolo 20 Sep, 2017

One of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make is what you want to do for a career. This is something you’ll spend countless hours doing and will provide a living for you and your family; definitely a major decision. And once you decide what you would like to do professionally, there will be a few things you need to do to get there. At the top of that list is education; the opportunity to learn the skills necessary for any given trade. Now there are a number of avenues one can take when it comes to getting an education in a certain field and earning a degree . With so many choices, it’s vital to understand what is important and what to prioritize when it comes to choosing a school. This is especially true for the culinary arts. So if your dream is to become a chef or to work in hospitality and food service, here are five things to look for when choosing a culinary school .

ACF Accreditation

The ACF, American Culinary Federation is the top organization for professional chefs in North America. The ACF is responsible for the regulatory oversight of culinary schools. Attending a culinary school with an ACF accreditation provides you with a top quality culinary arts education that has the seal of approval from the culinary industry. These institutions undergo a thorough evaluation of their facilities, teacher-student ratios, instructors and more. The Louisiana Culinary Institute is accredited by the ACF, the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education, is licensed by the Louisiana State Board of Regents, and is a member of the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA), and National Restaurant Association (NRA).

A Proven Track Record of Graduate Success

Just as in other educational programs, attending an institution with a proven track record of teaching and training successful students and professionals is key to your future success. Look for a program that boasts high graduation and employment rates. Schools with strong industry reputations can provide access and opportunities for long term career success and high salaries. Also look for a program that has a large, successful alumni network .

Modern Facilities

Just as you wouldn’t want to learn on a typewriter today or use a slide rule instead of a calculator; the facilities at your culinary school should be updated, preparing you to step in a kitchen as a professional. LCI features a variety of classroom and lab facilities allowing students to experience and learn on relevant and applicable platforms.

Hands-on Experience

This is an essential quality for your culinary school of choice. Receiving a food focused business education will give you the skills and knowledge to be successful in any segment of the food industry. This is achieved through a diverse curriculum with extensive in-kitchen instruction hours. Depending on the concentration you choose at LCI, each program features a major component of lab hours, providing the hands on experience necessary for professional success.

An Experienced, Accomplished, and Diverse Faculty

Getting as many perspectives as possible can be an invaluable opportunity, providing insight for decision-making and enhancing your educational experience. With a curriculum that blends culinary arts with business, mathematics, and leadership courses; each featuring a balance of business and culinary professionals provides a well-rounded education. The staff at LCI comes from a variety of backgrounds and offers expertise in each element of the culinary arts and hospitality management world.


By Charlie Ruffolo 13 Sep, 2017

We all have certain attributes, interests, talents, and skills that provide us an opportunity to pursue different things. It’s these qualities that put us on the road to a career where we can not only leverage these abilities but also find success and happiness. For example, engineers possess a desire to figure things out, have applied creativity, and a high mechanical aptitude. These traits allow engineers to accomplish their specialized tasks. Attending culinary school as a student also requires certain qualities, and these can be found in every great chef and hospitality manager. If you’re considering culinary schoo l it’s important to remember that there isn’t one single attribute that will bring your success, but rather a combination. Here are a few of the essential qualities that a culinary student should have.

Creativity

The culinary arts are quite literally an art form. Having the ability to think outside of the box and let your creative side show and grow will help you expand on the things you learn, bringing new ideas and dishes to life. Using your talents to add to the free flowing exchange of creativity will lead to what defines you as a chef.

Commitment and Patience

While this is a common quality in any endeavor, it rings especially true in the culinary world. A commitment to always providing the best in innovation and quality cannot be more valuable. You need to put your time in, learn and respect your craft.   There are multiple repetitive actions and skills that must be mastered as a chef ; everything from knife skills to flavor profiles to kitchen techniques that will be used daily. Remember, once you’re hired in a professional kitchen you’ll be expected to know and excel at the basics, so practice makes perfect. Building a strong culinary foundation requires commitment and patience. These two traits stem from a strong work ethic and will help you develop the kitchen vocabulary you’ll need to be your best. Culinary school allows you to learn and make the little mistakes and understand the fundamental difference between where you are now and where you’ll be professionally.

A Passion for Your Craft

If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. A passion to create and share your ideas and dishes with the world is essential. This is arguably the most important characteristic on the list. Your passion will drive you and propel you to bigger and better things. With a passion for your craft, no setback is big enough to stop you and no goal is out of your reach.

Ability to Accept Constructive Criticism

The best chefs in the world are constantly learning. Receiving criticism and feedback comes with the territory. Your ability to accept both of them constructively will only create new opportunities for you to learn and improve. You have to have thick skin to make it in this industry.

Possess a Team Mentality

There are a lot of moving parts in any kitchen or restaurant. Having the ability to think on your feet, lead, and communicate are vital to preparing and serving the best dishes. The same goes for enhancing the skills that you’ll learn in culinary school.

While many chefs and culinary students possess a wide variety of qualities, they also share several core traits. The Louisiana Culinary Institute provides high quality training and conceptual understanding of professional cooking and culinary arts and hospitality and culinary management. The curriculum, paired with each students commitment and passion prepares them for mid to upper-level positions in the food service industry.


By Charlie Ruffolo 13 Sep, 2017

The world of the culinary arts has opened doors to some of the most creative minds around. Working in the culinary field has many benefits. The skills you develop are applicable in the real world. More over, those skills are applicable anywhere in the world, providing the opportunity to travel, and to tap into your creativity as cooking is as much of an art as it is a science. A culinary degree also gives you the chance to follow your passion, allowing you to earn a living doing what you love through a number of different outlets.

However, in order to get to where you want to be, you’ll need to invest in the education that will make it possible to succeed. While the world’s best chefs are often treated like rock stars, even the biggest rock stars needed guitar lessons to get started. That means culinary school. Even though the thought of investing in culinary school may seem financially daunting, there are options to make it easier. Here are four ways to financially make your culinary school dreams come true.

Federal Grants and Scholarships for Culinary School

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a great first step for anyone looking to pursue an education. FASFA can be completed online through your institution’s website or on the FASFA website . The purpose of FASFA is to provide grants, loans, and work-study funds for those attending college or career school.

Work-Study Programs for Culinary School

Similar to how FASFA assesses the amount of financial aid you’ll need in the form of grants and scholarships, it also accounts for your eligibility for work-study programs. A work-study program allows a student to work for their school while attending, giving them hands-on experience that is conducive to their class schedule.

Outside Grants and Scholarships for Culinary School

If students find themselves without any federal aid after submitting the FASFA form, there is still hope. Many schools offer a resource page where students can apply for scholarships from outside organizations. There are many businesses and clubs that provide scholarships to students seeking higher education who fall short financially. The National Restaurant Association is a great resource that provides merit-based scholarships to undergraduate students pursuing degrees related to the restaurant industry.

Loans for Culinary School

Loans are another good option for students who cannot fully cover the cost of culinary school. Similar to scholarships and grants, loans can be obtained through the government or other outside sources. Government loans include Direct Loans and Plus loans and can be applied for through the school’s financial aid office. Outside loans, or private loans, are often provided by banks and credit unions. Private loans are often more expensive and don’t have benefits such as fixed interest rates, flexible repayment plans, or loan forgiveness like federal loans.

It has often been said that “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Pursuing a career in the culinary arts can put you on that path of doing what you love, and the cost of pursuing that career shouldn’t stand in the way of your dreams.

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