SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Le Cordon Bleu, the well-known culinary school,is closing all 16 of its U.S. locations including three in California. The Golden State locations include; San Francisco, Sacramento and Pasadena.
Students at the school in San Francisco, which started as the California Culinary Academy in 1977, are now in the midst of finals with the closure looming in their future.
Less than three-miles away, the sous chef at 1300 Fillmore, a graduate of the school's Pasadena location, says he learned of the closures Thursday morning.
"It's really devastating. I'm still in shock," said Chris Aquino.
He said Le Cordon Bleu was the place where he learned to turn his passion for cooking into an art and science.
"They give you that dream and you chase it...that's what it is. How much you apply yourself is how fast you excel," said the sous chef.
Career Education Corporation, the for-profit parent company, said it will no longer enroll new students after January 4th.
It says all students will be able to finish their programs and all campuses are expected to remain open until September 2017.
The Le Cordon Bleu brand has some illustrious graduates, including Julia Child who attended its Paris school, which will remain open.
"Fantastic faculty at California Culinary Academy and the rest at Le Cordon Bleu-- upper management, ownership, Career Education Corp.; that's where the problem was," said David Glancy, a sommelier.
Glancy is a former wine and business management instructor at the school.
He is now the founder of the San Francisco Wine School.
In recent years, Career Education Corp. settled a class action lawsuit by Le Cordon Bleu graduates who said they made $12 an hour and worked in jobs that did not require training.
"There is this culture of misleading potential students, charging very high tuition and getting government grant money," said Glancy.
"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,” said Todd Nelson, the company's president, in a statement.
Aquino said he paid $50,000 to the school, which he said enabled him to live his dream.
"It's going to war every night with my team, my soldiers and coming out. That's what drives me."
The company claimed declining enrollment is a factor in the closures and that it tried, but was unable to reach an agreement with a buyer for the schools.