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State Seeks to Learn Why Culinary School Closed

May 24, 2000

ENCINO — A day after an Encino school for chefs abruptly closed, officials at the state agency overseeing vocational education said they spent most of Tuesday trying to reach the owner and learn what had happened.

"You figured they would have called back after all the desperate messages we left," said Deborah Godfrey, an analyst with the Bureau for Private Post-Secondary and Vocational Education. "But still no word from them."

Godfrey said she would like to find out why the Los Angeles Culinary Institute closed Monday, before officials meet at 11 a.m. today with about 50 students to discuss possible recovery of their tuition.

"We know this is a difficult time for the owners and students," Godfrey said. "As strange as it sounds, this is a common occurrence, and we can help."

Agency officials said their latest records, as of Feb. 22, show that the institute has a single owner, Bruce Riddell.

Riddell's attorney, James Feffer, who called him a "shareholder" in the school, said Riddell was disappointed to hear it had closed Monday.

"Mr. Riddell had nothing to do with the closing and was certainly not part of that decision," Feffer said. "He was shocked."

Sherman Lister, an attorney for the institute, and other school officials did not return numerous phone calls on Tuesday.

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