I'd love feedback from any Chowhounders who may have suffered a similar fate....
I started Northern Chinese Cuisine at GBC and just couldn't deal with how awful it was:
1) Could hardly hear the instructor - she was unwilling to put the microphone headset on her head. Even after being explicitly asked to do so by a student in the back. (I was in the FRONT and couldn't hear). And no - it's not the industrial strength extraction fans - even when they were off we all struggled to hear her voice.
2) The bits I could hear I could hardly understand due to accent and language barrier.
3) When she had to use both hands to chop food she couldn't hold the microphone close to her mouth anymore, so whatever advice she was giving us was unheard.
4) Ironically, she upbraided a student at the back who was speaking whilst she was speaking - hey, he was only trying to keep his companion up to speed because he could barely hear but she was missing everything.
5) The recipies where riddled with errors - from what I could hear - so we all had to scribble many changes.
6) The college did not supply correct ingredients - the instructor said that after 10 years they never get the shopping right. (Ummmm.... they really care about this course..)
7) One dish called for deep frying but the equipment had not been set up. (They really care...)
8) The instructor told us that two out of three of the professional stoves were no good. Another stovetop was proclaimed to be dangerous. (They really care....)
9) Someone asked for instruction on using a sharpening stone and was told flat out "no" - that's not in the course. (Too bad you enthusiastic sap!)
The instructor is a very nice and sincere person, but not an accomplished instructor. And she has issues with the way the college provides her supplies and the inadequacies of the equipment of the classroom. If I were her, I wouldn't teach under those circumstances - her personal reputation suffers as a result.
Perhaps my standards are too high, but to put things in context I teach very expensive executive briefings and technical seminars, and I believe that if somebody puts down $375 and 40 hours of their time on Friday nights for a cooking course they should get clear communication in a professional manner in a well organised and well prepared classroom. Nothing should be left to chance.
I've never seen so many people in a room together who were so bored, frustrated, constantly checking their watches, getting out of their chairs to see a process that was part of the lesson but way out of the demo mirror zone....
If I was running that particular class I would have a highly appetising banquet ready for the students on the first night, so the minute they walk in they sit down and sample the food they will learn to prepare in order to validate the enthusiasm that led to enrollment in the first place.
I think that a walk through of ingredients and techniques would be much more successful if done during eating and enjoying the food. As the students eat, the instructor can demo how it was done and also find out what students like and dislike, introduce them to each other, and aim to give them maximum enjoyment for their money.
I don't think that's too much to ask. And I'm going to lay that idea on GBC and will let you know how they respond! (I think we all know the answer....) I think GBC is just too SOVIET and provincial.
I probably won't have much luck getting a refund but I will definitely make my complaint known lound and long to the college. 20 people paid $375 for a bad experience. Do the math. How many nice meals we could have had in Chinatown.... :(