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Meet Eric Crowley of Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom in West Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Eric Crowley.

Chef Eric Jacques Crowley is a seasoned, professional chef and the founder, owner and chef instructor at his dynamic cooking school, Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom, where he has shaped the careers of many professional chefs. He graduated with honors from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After traveling abroad to master European cooking techniques, Chef Eric returned to the United States and landed a prominent position at Patina Catering, of the renowned Patina Restaurant Group. With his experience and training, and his innate passion for cooking, Chef Eric sought to help others develop their cooking skills and gain confidence through the culinary arts. This led Chef Eric to open the Culinary Classroom in 2003, as a place where people with all levels of culinary experience could hone impressive and valuable culinary skills. Chef Eric and the Culinary Classroom have been featured in, and on, major media outlets that include E! Entertainment, KCAL 9 Los Angeles, KTLA 5 Los Angeles, NBC Channel 4 Los Angeles, Good Day LA, BET, Los Angeles Business Journal, and many others.

Additionally, Chef Eric is a judge and scholarship sponsor for the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and he mentors children from high school into their professional careers. He is also a mentor for the Culinary Institute of America (CIA); supporting interns and his professional students, by training and preparing them, and personally guiding them so they can meet the requirements to attend the CIA.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Chef Eric was exposed to an eclectic variety of foods and cultures. His palate and cooking skills were also greatly influenced by his mother, who was a gourmet cook. As he grew older, Chef Eric discovered a true passion for music and became a dedicated member of his high school band, as the lead saxophonist. Interested in furthering his talent, he enrolled in Cal State Northridge working towards a degree in music, continuing to play the saxophone in the junior band. With the dreary prospects of a low-paying future as a musician, Chef Eric left Cal State Northridge and entered the workforce, first as a bill collector, and then as a paralegal assistant at a law firm. Despite his stable position at the law firm, Chef Eric felt that he wasn’t living his dream.

At the age of 27, he began experimenting in the kitchen with a hand-written cookbook from his mother. As his passion and joy for cooking grew, he attended a cooking class, where his ambition and eagerness led to the development of a mentorship with the teacher and a new part-time job in a restaurant. After researching various programs and connecting with alumni, Chef Eric decided to fully invest in his bright future as a chef and was accepted into the esteemed Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He completed the rigorous and rewarding degree program, graduating with honors. In search of greater technical advancement, Chef Eric traveled abroad to train and work with Chef José Monica at Via Veneto, Barcelona’s longest-running 5-star restaurant, as well as with Chef Joseph Russwürm at Munich’s Hotel Kempinski, another 5-star establishment.

Chef Eric returned to the United States and accepted a respected position at Patina Catering, of the distinguished Patina Restaurant Group, where he prepared food for A-list celebrities and for award shows that included the Primetime Emmy Awards Governors Ball. He has supervised corporate and personal events ranging in size from an intimate four-person lunch or dinner to a boisterous crowd of 2,000 for lunch, dinner or appetizers. He has cooked meals for presidential candidates, vice presidents, show business executives, celebrities, and numerous personal clients. During this time in his career, Chef Eric maintained a busy schedule of catering events and high-profile cooking demonstrations.

In addition, Chef Eric began teaching professional chef programs at Los Angeles’ first private culinary school, The Epicurean School of Culinary Arts, which has since closed. When he decided to start his own culinary school, his partner and wife Jennie drew upon her extensive background in business administration, marketing, and customer service to help him launch and grow Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom.

In 2003, Chef Eric officially opened his Culinary Classroom, as a place where aspiring cooks, chefs, bakers, and pastry chefs of all skill levels could find challenging and rewarding classes to suit their needs and elevate their own love of cooking and baking. Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom offers a wide range of recreational and professional classes, with a calendar that is constantly updated to reflect current gastronomic trends and the needs of its customers. With an emphasis on hands-on learning in an intimate environment, Chef Eric takes great pride in patiently focusing on each of his students to motivate them to reach their goals and develop superb culinary skills. His humble attitude and ability to intently listen and provide encouraging feedback promotes a cohesive and productive learning environment. Chef Eric’s students include successful restaurant owners, professional chefs, caterers, personal chefs, home chefs, beginning cooks and children.

In an effort to give back to the community and further promote the culinary arts, Chef Eric is highly involved with several charities and programs, donating thousands of dollars of cooking classes and scholarships to children in need. Over the years, Chef Eric has become devoted to CoachArt, a program that does incredible work helping children with life-threatening illnesses, to improve their lives through art. “We host some of the children at the Culinary Classroom to get them out of the doldrums of going through treatment and having to stay in the hospital and have them come cook and dine with us. The children inspire us every day with their courage,” says Chef Eric, who teaches Children’s Culinary Academies at his school in the summer.

Chef Eric continues to reside in Southern California, with his wife and business partner Jennie Crowley. In his spare time, he enjoys do-it-yourself home projects, the thrill of attending Grand Prix motor races, listening to jazz, and cooking, using the herbs he grows in his garden.

“People can derive a great deal from the art of cooking. The ultimate reward for me is seeing the sense of confidence and pure joy that my students experience when they master the life skill of cooking through my instruction, and to help other chefs follow in my footsteps and create their own businesses and careers,” exclaims Chef Eric.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
We’ve run across the same obstacle that any start-up would have – worrying about whether we’re going to fill our classes, hiring the right people to work for us, putting out fires with respect to technology glitches, vendors not delivering products on time. We’ve had to run to the store in the middle of class for Thai Chiles or Tarragon. You also spend a lot more time on Administration than you would think running a business. It isn’t all fun and games and kitchen time!

In the past few years, we’ve had to train ourselves in this thing called ‘social media’! My wife is now also a Certified Public Relations expert who trained at Loyola Marymount. You have to do a lot more customer service that you would expect. You have to keep up on current food trends and change our classes accordingly.

You also absolutely cannot get caught up on the whim of the public and the ‘latest fad’ because the majority of the public don’t want those types of classes. Los Angeles is on the cutting edge of so many things, but there are also a lot of traditional people out here that just want to learn to cook better for their families. So we keep a traditional vibe in the Classroom and that has kept us in business for the past 13 years.

Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
At Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom, we offer professional certification programs, which include the 16-week Culinary Master Chef Program and the 10-week Culinary Baking and Pastry Program. In these programs, Chef Eric personally trains aspiring and established chefs to provide them with essential culinary skills and advanced culinary techniques, sharing not only the education that he received at the Culinary Institute of America but also the experience he gained in his European travels and years in business. Students are then able to successfully launch and grow their culinary careers and businesses. Through his dedication and positive mentoring style, Chef Eric has significantly impacted his students, shaping their careers and enabling them to reach their professional goals. Some non-professionals also take these programs because they aspire to become high-level home chefs.

For recreational cooks and home chefs, Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom offers classes on couples cooking, healthy cooking, wine and food pairing, sushi making, cupcake baking and more. New classes are added to the calendar, based on customer’s requests, which is why Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom offers kids’ summer cooking and baking camps. He created a Healthy Cooking Series to keep up with the changing demographic.

Many companies and law firms have come to Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom for fun team-building events. “Taking people out of their daily routine and putting them in a situation where communication and cooperation are vital, is a great way to team-build,” says Chef Eric. “Throw in the tastes, aromas, and beauty of delicious dishes, and you have a fantastic experience.” We also host private cooking parties for birthdays, anniversaries and other special events.

We do a great business with people who are becoming Chefs and Bakers and we give them the skill set and confidence to succeed in their own careers. We are very invested in our students’ success. I think that makes a big difference in our success. We are continually told that our customer service is fantastic and that is what we pride ourselves on – we are very personal with our students. We do the most we can to help each student achieve whatever goal it is they are trying to reach.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
This is what drives me to continue to work with my students and I always say, “People can derive a great deal from the art of cooking. The ultimate reward for me is seeing the sense of confidence and pure joy that my students experience when they master the life skill of cooking through my instruction, and to help other chefs follow in my footsteps and create their own businesses and careers.”

One of the other ways I personally define success is the ability to give back – that is why I work with a couple of key charities. I give to many others – but these two I work with personally:

Through Coach Art, Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom provides an opportunity for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses to enjoy a day of culinary adventure and fun. Over the years, Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom has donated thousands of dollars of cooking classes and scholarships to children in need. Chef Eric finds great reward in working with children, as he is inspired by the pure excitement that children express upon completing a recipe, and the important life lessons of teamwork, dedication, and self-assurance that are instilled in his young students.

Chef Eric’s mentorship extends beyond the Culinary Classroom. He is a judge and scholarship sponsor for the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and he mentors children from high school into their professional careers. He is also a mentor for the Culinary Institute of America (CIA); supporting interns and students who want to become serious chefs, by training and preparing them, and personally guiding them through their requirements to attend the CIA.

Chef Eric continues to reside in Southern California, with his wife and business partner Jennie Crowley. In his spare time, he enjoys do-it-yourself home projects, the thrill of attending Grand Prix motor races, listening to jazz, and cooking, using the herbs he grows in his garden.

Pricing:

  • Master Chef Program – 16 Weeks – $2,700
  • Master Baking Program – 10 Weeks – $1,500
  • Culinary Basics Series – 4 Weeks – $395
  • Healthy Cooking Series – 4 Weeks – $395
  • Recreational Classes – $95-$100

Contact Info:

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1 Comment

  1. Alex H.

    January 24, 2017 at 00:13

    Chef Eric is a fantastic teacher. I have attended various cooking classes and his were the most memorable. Chef Eric goes above and beyond to ensure you are comfortable with the recipes he provides. He is always right there if you need him for anything. His staff is also extremely knowledgeable and personable. I would definitely recommend Chef Eric and his classes to anyone looking to get serious in the kitchen.

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