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Pastry school & your teenager


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#1 K8memphis

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 01:47 PM

I did a search & found a bunch of stuff on culinery school. In particular, though for pastry which school would you like your teen to attend & why?? Which one has the emphasis here or the emphasis there.

What do you know that would benefit a young lady in the decision making process???? What did you like especially. What sucked. What would be good to avoid in your opinion. Or what did you look for.

Please PC's, speak up--especially everybody, but Jennifer Garner, recent graduate and employee of a wonderful bakery, please advise--thanks!!! Neil, I shared your web page too. Jennifer, didn't you have a web page??? I couldn't find it.

All advise welcome.

Thanks!

#2 ohmyganache

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 02:01 PM

I went to CIA and I loved it. I think it does a good job teaching the pastry skills needed to succeed in the business. The facilities, faculty, and general environment there are top notch. I also completed the Bachelors program there, and think it was a good investment in time and money. (I learned the business and management side of cooking.)

Of course the school had it's problems, but nowhere is perfect.

And what it really comes down to is the students themselves. I've seen wonderful people come out of tiny, unknown culinary schools... just as I've seen terrible cooks come out of CIA.
Stephen W.
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The Sweet Life Bakery
Vineland, NJ

#3 chefpeon

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 02:27 PM

You know, as much as I have a passion for my career, I believe that people considering going into the culinary biz really really need to know the downside first. Because it's a big downside if money, advancement, decent hours, retirement and benefits are important to them.

Truly, if I'd really been educated about the fact that the restaurant business has very little of the above perks, and what it would mean to me in the future, I probably would have reconsidered. It was my blind ambition and naivete that got me where I am now.

Don't get me wrong....I'm happy. But every day is a struggle. If I weren't married and sharing expenses with my husband, I'd never make it on my own......not at $12 an hour with no benefits.

This business has taken it's toll on me physically too. Bad feet......and hands weakened by carpal tunnel syndrome. Burn scars all up and down my arms. Remember I have no health benefits, but luckily the state picked up the cost of my carpal tunnel surgery since it's a work related injury.

And, there's the undeniable fact that in probably no other field, will you have to work so hard for so little.

People considering this profession REALLY have to ask themselves, if they REALLY want to do this.
Because, what you see on Food Network ISN'T how it is.

#4 foodie52

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 02:59 PM

Our community college has a really good culinary program: it's a way for the kids to get trained without costing an arm and a leg. Graduates get just as good jobs as those who have gone to more prestigious schools because ultimately, you're hired on talent and work ethic rather than where you went to school. At least, this is the impression I have from my socializing with chef instructors.

We also have the Cordon Bleu school here with a dynamite pastry teaching staff. But that's almost as expensive as the CIA.

Have you thought about her perhaps spending one year apprenticing in the business to make sure that she loves it ? They do that in Europe.

#5 chezcherie

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 03:26 PM

Have you thought about her perhaps spending one year apprenticing in the business to make sure that she loves it ? They do that in Europe.

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I second this very good advice. I gave it to my very-own-teenager, who got himself a job at the best local place, and learned waaaaayyyyy more than he would have in the same time period in culinary school. (I went, so I know...) Especially with a teen, it's so important for them to get their hands dirty (and clean--by washing lots of dishes..) to see if it's really for them.
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#6 chiantiglace

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 03:42 PM

omyganache, you are very correct. I have met a lot of CIA grads that arent all what theyre cracked up to be. But nevertheless I will be atteneding CIA very shortly and would recommend it to anyone. I have done more school researching than anyone I know and CIA is my primary. What is necesary for a good cook is passion and nothing less. If you have passion you can go to any school there is and come out great. But for a person with passion I reccommend CIA the most, for someone that is going to culinary school for any other reason I reccomend a different life style, not a school.
Dean Anthony Anderson
"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This
Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

#7 Steve Klc

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 04:18 PM

I'd steer my teen away from attending pastry school until she's not a teen anymore.

European parallels aren't very valid here in the US, we have a different culture, the pastry "profession," and I use that term loosely, is perceived differently, so, too, is the vocational or trade school aspect of pastry perceived differently here.

It's one thing to have done research about attending school, like chiantiglace, and I think that input is valuable; it's another to have recently attended school, like ohmyganache, and that perspective is also valuable--reports from recent grads flush with enthusiasm and also reports from older grads, still in debt looking back on their school experience 5+ years in the business. It's another to have taught in cooking schools and particularly to have experience teaching teens--that I have and that's something I can share with you Kate. Based on what I've seen, after changing careers myself at age 33, then eventually teaching, I almost always encourage teens, and their parents, to wait.

Not knowing more about your teen, I'd recommend you send her to the best real college if you can afford it, even just for a year or two, and NOT to study pastry, anywhere, yet. She'll have more options later and operate more from a position of strength and independence in society if she doesn't go to cooking school as a teen--that closes doors, not opens them, later. Suggest she get a broad education first, learn to write and think critically, follow the advice of others on this thread and encourage her to dabble in professional food via part-time jobs and summer vacations and reassure her that there will be plenty of time for her to commit to pastry later via an intensive 6 month career changing program--should her desire not wane by then and should she not discover another passion by then. She deserves the idealistic opportunity to study philosophy, to paint, to become a graphic artist, a sculptor, a website designer, to learn French or Spanish, to take accounting or small business. As a freshman studying whatever, she can bake bread at a bakery near her college or work part time for an organic farmer, that Summer you two go to Paris and tour boulangeries and patisseries; as a sophomore she can plate desserts at the best restaurant near her college, that Summer break you two hit the best restaurants in NYC for a week, drop by the FCI and the CIA and that little unknown gem of a program, the New York City Technical College, etc. By then, she'll have a big advantage most other incoming cooking school students won't have had--she'll already have a lot of real-world pastry work experience under her belt that hopefully has sustained itself over the 4 years of her college education--and she'll be in a better position to appreciate what she's learning and to process it when she's 22.

Her awareness of food and pastry is probably fairly limited at this point--again, not knowing more of the specifics of your situation--maybe while she is in real college you put together a four year pastry-oriented plan of travel to New York, Paris, Chicago, Barcelona et al, you're welcome to visit me in DC anytime and I'll show her around the restaurants--I'll show her what it is really like back of the house for CIA culinary school grads. That travel will help her taste and broaden her perspective much more than attending the CIA will, and it'll help her re-affirm her desire, it'll be something fun both of you can do together, and she can still go to the CIA or another school for pastry if she hasn't gotten it out of her system by then. I guarantee once she's out of school, lifting 50 pound sacks, standing on her feet for 12 hours a day and speaking Spanish to her coworkers somewhere in her $9 an hour job, baking off sheetpans of frozen croissants or chocolate chip cookies beside lazy union bakers who resent that she went to school and CHOSE to do this, trying to scrimp and save to pay back whatever loans she took out to attend school, she's not going to be travelling anywhere. For a long time.

Best advice you can give her is to work a lot in the field first, travel as much as possible first, go to college, put off going to pastry school for as long as she can, and then go after a period of time if and only if she still feels that's what she's absolutely meant to do. Then she'll have a better chance to make it and be fulfilled.
Steve Klc

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Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

#8 chiantiglace

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 04:33 PM

Steve is right. I took it upon myself to wait a little bit an educate myself as much as possible before applying. I already knew 100% that I was going because i was born in this business, but it helps a lot to bring your awareness up to speed before attending. When I took a tour I asked so many questions to the tour guide who was about a year younger than me she was rather reluctant to answer the majority of them because she hadn't taken the time to gather the questions for herself. Fortunately for me I knew the majority of the answers, I geuss that makes me sound like an ass, but thats just another way I find out what to expect from people and my surroundings.
Dean Anthony Anderson
"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This
Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

#9 pastrymama

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 04:39 PM

I second what Steve had to say. I have an assistant that went to college and received a BA degree. Then she decided she really wanted to go to culinary school. She had worked part time in a bakery while in college so she knew some of what it would be like in the business. The executive chef let me hire her but put the pay at $9.50, when our yearly raises came around he gave her 4% or 38 cents. We were both shocked because she is the best assistant I have ever worked with. Always willing to go the extra mile, I only have to show her once anything I need her to do. So after 2 years and a change in executive chefs I had to literally crawl on my hands and knees to get her a decent raise. She is now making the grand sum of $14.00 an hour. This in an area where a 1 bedroom apartment runs around $1000 a month or more. This is definately not the career to have if you think you will have an interesting, easy life. I have always said when people ooh and ahh when they hear I am a pastry chef that the word pastry chef is just another word for slave. Make sure she has the chance to really see what it is all about and that she feels she has to do it. She will never be paid enough in money, you must be able to get paid with less tangible things like feeling great when your products come out great and people enjoy them, and by the feeling of accomplishment at the end of a long hard day.
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#10 chefpeon

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 04:56 PM

Steve said it far more eloquently than I did.

I'm the example of the kid who didn't go to "real college" first.
Even though I consider myself successful in this business, I'm still making $12 an hour.
Creditors and landlords don't really care how beautiful your cakes are....they want you to show
them the money. And I'm like, "what money?"

Without a college degree, I have nothing to fall back on. I've gotta lotta smarts, but a lot of employers want to see that degree.......in most places where you stand to make a decent amount of money you can't even get your foot in the door without college, no matter how smart you are!
Believe me, I KNOW!

Kids have a lot of spunk and a "conquer the world" attitude.....and that's great....but they need to get out in the world to REALLY discover what they want out of life. Frequently what they think they want straight out of school, ends up not being what they want at all a few years down the line. Even if they go to college and major in something they don't end up actually utilizing in the work force (like art history or philosophy), they still have the degree......and that degree opens up FAR MORE doors than a stint in pastry school!

I say again, Steve is right on the money.

#11 chiantiglace

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 05:02 PM

a 4 year deegree in pastry arts isnt a stint, not to sound contraversal. It can open a lot of doors in the food industry, and there are many more doors than people tend to think.
Dean Anthony Anderson
"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This
Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

#12 Tess

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 05:15 PM

In my opinion, a regular 4-year college is not for everyone, and certainly not automatically right out of high school. If a student isn't ready and/or it's not the right college, it can be a huge waste of time, money and opportunity. And just having a four-year degree does not open too many doors unless it's the right degree for what you want. So, there may be reasons to dissuade a kid from going right into culinary school, but regular college may not be the best alternative.

#13 Steve Klc

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 05:27 PM

a regular 4-year college is not for everyone, and certainly not automatically right out of high school. If a student isn't ready and/or it's not the right college, it can be a huge waste of time, money and opportunity


Tess--even given what I've written, I agree with this 100%, there are so many variables that are going to affect each choice, each decision. There are no guarantees and it's not an either-or decision--I think what I'm urging for "pastry teens" more than anything else is informed consent going in, and to develop that it takes time. How much time will depend. My college experiences 15 years later helped make me the pastry chef I am, for better and worse, and I definitely didn't appreciate my 4+ years in school, looking back, as much as I could have. I don't think that's unusual. Knowing what I know now about myself, I would've taken a slightly different track then--no Byzantine history or Renaissance poetry and instead some fine art and business--but I would still re-take all the biology, chemistry, physics and english. I would have summoned up the courage to go to France for a semester abroad when I was 20 instead of chickening out and I would have started to drink espresso and paid attention in 8am Spanish class instead of snoozing through, because I'd sure be using that to better advantage now. It's always hard to predict what you need and what you're ready for at the time.
Steve Klc

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Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

#14 nicolekaplan

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 05:46 PM

HARVARD

or of course princeton, yale or mit
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#15 K8memphis

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 06:13 PM

Oh you guys are awesome. This is a great discussion.

And let me hasten to say, I am asking for my dear friend's 17 year old. Let me also hasten to say, my 21 year old boy just finished his Cordon Bleu studies in Texas with a 4.0. He is now at The Peabody. Yes, he worked line cook & other stations for several years before attending school so he knew going in what was up.

It was really funny though--he worked here in Memphis cooking at a popular night spot--then in Austin he got on at a big hotel as a line cook. He's wonderfully young, idealistic and he loves Thomas Kellor. He said to me worriedly "Mom, the food :shock: the people in the dining room just stare at me when I come out." I said, "Oh, it's ok, everybody knows it's just hotel food." He said, "Oh thanks, Mom, that makes me feel sooo much better, when I came out of the kitchen in Memphis they would clap for me." :laugh:

So he is becoming well aware.

edited to say: Foodie52, yes indeedy it's expensive!!! :rolleyes:

Edited by K8memphis, 20 July 2005 - 06:59 PM.


#16 ohmyganache

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 09:17 AM

a 4 year deegree in pastry arts isnt a stint, not to sound contraversal.  It can open a lot of doors in the food industry, and there are many more doors than people tend to think.

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I agree with you here chiantiglace. I did not go to 'regular' college myself, I got a bachelors at CIA in restaurant management. That certainly gives me a lot more opportunities in the field than simply an AOS degree. I could even continue schooling to get a masters degree at a different school if I wanted...

For people that are unfamiliar with the BPS program, I took classes in Accounting, Marketing, Restaurant Ops, Ethics, World History, Food and Culture, etc... and the best part was that there was maybe 20 people in my class, so every teacher knew every one of our names. I grew up in Gainesville, Florida and at UF, you're lucky if there's not 200 people in your classes...

What I didn't mention before is that this 17 year old friend needs to get a job cooking (or baking). Because it is a lot of hard work and you really have to love it.
Stephen W.
Pastry Chef/Owner
The Sweet Life Bakery
Vineland, NJ

#17 chiantiglace

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 09:47 AM

yes. I hope to have enough money and time to one day continue education at Cornell after my bacherlors. It's just so much time out of your life, I mean I'm up for learning everything I can, but want to make the most of the time given.
Dean Anthony Anderson
"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This
Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

#18 simdelish

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 05:25 PM

What has been advised here is spot on.

But, just as an example, to sort of play devil's advocate, I will share this:

Our Sysco rep went to the CIA for the Baking/Pastry program and finished I believe in '98. She says she wanted it for years, and finally got the funds, time and experience to attend (and she was over 30). Out of school she slaved away at two different places for pennies (actually about 8 or 9 bucks an hour). After doing lots of research on her slow growing career by talking to MANY others in the pasty field, she decided she couldn't exist on such a limited income, and without any hopes of benefits until she got near the top. Her words: her future looked grim. She heard about an opening at Sysco, and went for it.

Now she sells mass-produced canned/packaged basic ingredients and ersatz mixes, along with equipment. She gets to live vicariously through her customers/accounts when she calls on them. She says she's still around food, but not at all what she planned. But, she makes a decent living, with benefits. She says, however, that she does make the best damn cookies of any of her friends...
I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

#19 chiantiglace

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 05:36 PM

the sales world is a big risk. Sysco like most companies will pay you monthly for 1 year to help you get on your feet. But if you dont get enough accounts do to, not only other companies business but other SYSCO reps that are working your same area, you may not make the commision to stay alfoat. This business is not for the weak. It's espcially tough on men these days because people seem to be more particular to buying for a woman, haha, its true beleive it or not. I love the sales world and if I was not so passionate about the life infront of me I could already be making a very good living as a Schreiber distriubtor, seeing as I dont need any training and grew up doing it. It's all about personality and speaking. It's tough to build an empire, but once you do all there is is mantinence so I only reccomend it someone thats either sick of the kitchen but wants to be around food or someone that is really taken by the "on the road" lifestyle.


Many people say they'd love to have the job the distributors and reps have, but its a cutthroat business and a very difficult/stressful one that you can only truly know until you try it.
Dean Anthony Anderson
"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This
Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

#20 simdelish

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 06:03 PM

I meant no comment on the life of a food sales rep, one way or another... (my rep has been doing it for 4 or 5 years now, says she makes great money, and is a very nice -- and attractive-- person, but often clueless, and doesn't seem to work hard, or be willing to work hard, I should say. I say that because she can't seem to find me simple things, even when I give her the on-line printout of the product, the price, the item number, etc.)

I only shared that story as an example of someone who dreamt for years that's what she wanted to do (baking and pastry), finally did it, eyes open and well into adult life, and found out it wouldn't pay the bills. She spent all that money and time on a premier and expensive culinary school, only to become a SYSCO rep...
I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

#21 nicolekaplan

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 08:20 PM

speaking as a pastry chef, a mother, a college grad with a masters and a cooking school degree -
it is our responsibility to steer our future generations in the right direction. we are the ones who should know better, no 18 year old has a clue of who they are or who they want to become. a college education never killed anyone. cooking is not glamorous. it's tedious, menial, manual labor. don't kid yourself into thinking otherwise. for every mario batali there are thousands of people who 10 years down the line are still hourly waged cooks with no real future in sight. this profession is a very serious commitment so send your kids to college. drag them by the hair to freshman orientation if you must, but make them get out there and find out who they are first. and then when they are old enough to comprehend the decision they are about to make they can go to cooking school

Edited by nicolekaplan, 21 July 2005 - 08:21 PM.

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#22 chefjillm

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 08:44 PM

I know it has been said over and over already, but getting some real life experience is better for our business over all. Example, I have a girl working for me (she is in the process of leaving) and she had no previous food service experience. She really had no idea what she got her self into. She wants a break to sit down and eat, she wants weekends off, always asked for special days off, didn't work quickly and efficiently. It is so hard because she is a nice girl and I try to be a nice boss, but she is way more trouble then she is worth. Will she make it in the business, most likely not but I hope for the best for her. If she would have gotten a job before she started school she would have saved herself time and money, plus saved me a lot of heartache. Point is, have them work somewhere for at least 6 months and speak with people in the business. I really wish culinary schools would require real experience like they used to.
Pastry Chef/Owner
The Sweet Life Bakery
Vineland, NJ

#23 joiei

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 10:15 PM

If your daughter is looking to go into pastry, then by all means, a summer job at least in a busy pastry shop will help her tremendously when she gets to school. She will already have some idea of production.

A persons life path might take significant turns at an unexpected moment. I have worked all stations in kitchens and my last three restaurants was as pastry. One of my PC's now reps for a major chocolate house, the other one now is a culinary educator and I am a private chef for a couple. Other doors opened for us and we all stepped through. None of us regret leaving the bake shop, things like better hours, much better money, benefits, all contributed to a different lifestyle for us. I will not say better because that is not fair. We all have much different stressors now. But for all 3 of us, life is good in our new areas. I know for me, I have gone far beyond what I dreamed of doing.
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#24 nightscotsman

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Posted 22 July 2005 - 02:47 AM

I loved my time at the French Pastry School and recomend it to everyone who asks, but my situation was very, very different from a teenager just getting out of high school. I was turning 40 when I finally made the decision to change careers and go into pastry, so I didn't have the years it sometimes takes to work my way up in the industry starting at ground zero. I went to school to give me a kick start and chose one with a good, national reputation and instructors with wide industry connections. I actually seriously considered a good community college program for awhile, and I think I would have learned a lot there, but I wouldn't have learned the most modern, up-to-date techniques, and though the instructors were well regarded locally, I wouldn't have had the access to national opportunities. That said, community college can been a good choice if you have more years ahead of you than money in your bank account.

I also had been working at a well paying job for years and had a big chunk of money set aside to pay for school and live on while I attended so I didn't have to work at the same time. The French Pastry School certainly isn't cheap, though it's far less expensive than most of the other well known schools like CIA, ICE and the French Culinary Institute.

So I'm with others who have written here about getting a job first. In fact, go through several jobs before deciding if this is the career she wants, and then start thinking about IF spending a huge amount of money on school makes sense. Afterall, she will most likely make very little money for years even after coming out of the best school, and having big loans to pay back can be a crushing burden.

#25 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 22 July 2005 - 06:25 AM

I appolgize (in advance) for not reading every post on this thread before replying. I honestly couldn't agree more with Steves comments! I've ALWAYS wished I had a general college education. No matter what I do in life that's the one thing that could have helped me to go further, the one huge regret I have. I could have been a better business person, a better artist, a better communicator, a better whatever I want.........I could just go back to school and pick up a few classes and change fields. But with-out the core classes it's far more involved changing fields for me. It's also harder to rise in any field with-out that degree.

I highly regret not getting a well rounded college education! Yes, adults can go back to college later in life........but it's not so easy when you have bills to pay and people your responsible for.

#26 foodie52

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Posted 22 July 2005 - 08:49 AM

K8, this has nothing to do with your friend's situation, but I thought I'd throw this out there and get people's views about this:

I've been told that the culinary schools have enormous rates of attrition. In Austin, something like 60% of the kids who sign up quit after the first year. The schools recruit like crazy. There can be 600 kids in an incoming class, and classes start three times a year, I think... Lots of parents, at their wits' end because their high school graduate doesn't know what to do next with her life, pay the enormous fees because their child is accepted at the Culinary much easier than at a college. Up until now, there have been few remedial resources at the culinary schools, so the kids give it a try and then drop out. Seems to me that these schools, being so attractive to high school graduates, should try to copy the community colleges and work really hard to retain their students by offering more remedial courses and a lot more encouragement.

Input? Am I wrong about this?

#27 chiantiglace

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Posted 22 July 2005 - 09:09 AM

I disagree. The sole purpose is they want sutdents to drop out because if they baby them and push them through than there performance in life will be the reflection of the school. we were talkin about "bad cooks" from "great schools" earlier and this is an example. Basically they continuously tell you to leave now if you have no (more) passion for this. Because they dont want someone out there with a CIA/FCI/FPS diploma thats doing shit job because they just dont care and just want to make a living.

So weed them all out, the sooner the better I feel. Leave the ones who REALLY want to learn to push forth with me and some others so we dont have to drag our feet with the guy who doesnt give a s$#t about what hes learning but only doing it for his parents/job/corporation.

strength of the mind can only be carried by strength of the heart

Edited by chiantiglace, 22 July 2005 - 09:10 AM.

Dean Anthony Anderson
"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This
Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

#28 maggie

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 03:29 AM

I totally agree with Steve's advice, going to college, getting real-world experience, and yes, chefjillm, you are completely correct as well: culinary schools really need to require at least six months work experience. I am so tired of trying to train these externs from the CIA who come in through the revolving door, thinking they're already chefs, waiting for their FoodTV contract. We can't teach them anything because they already know it all. They have no sense of teamwork, no sense of others' space in the kitchen, no idea how hard it is to work in a kitchen. They work dirty and selfishly. I spent last night plating desserts with an extern who is on his last of 18 weeks, and he hasn't learned a thing, but is still convinced he knows everything. His extern meal is Tuesday, and he spent every free second last night talking about how his meal isn't going to reflect what he's learned here, because that's not the kind of food he's "about." And when crunch time came, when all 10 tables who were seated at once ordered desserts, he fell apart.

The people I have enjoyed working with the most have gone into pastry because they left their teenage-chosen line of work to do something they really love, because if you don't love working in pastry, there's just no point to being in the bake shop. I always reject applications from new culinary school grads who say, "I love to bake for my friends." Well, the guests are not your friends, sweetie. They want the best quality for the least amount of money. They want a birthday cake for Aunt Rose to serve 12 with fuschia and teal frosting, and they want it now. And if they don't get it now, they're not paying for it.

Some of the replies to this discussion have sounded very bitter, and I guess mine is sounding that way, too. But I absolutely love my job. I work in the most incredible place, with amazingly gifted people. I now have my dream job, after 9 years of moving around the country to get more experience, working endless days and nights, suffering through a few executive chefs who "used to bake" (which means they have one dessert they will force you to make for every event possible!), until I was lucky enough to be able to land this job. This is where I will make a name for myself. But it took me nine years and tens of thousands of hours to get here.

I went to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where I had always wanted to go. I cashed in everything I had to be able to do it, but when I returned to the states, I was offered the first six jobs I applied for. It still opens a lot of doors not possible if I'd gone to an American school, but I know some of the schools here are just as good. I've taken a class at the French Pastry School, and I would love to go back for more. As with any profession, a student only gets out of school what they put in.

So, yes, please advise the teenager to study other things, work in a real bakery or restaurant, see other places. Life is too large to spend it in a windowless, flour-filled room with no air conditioning if you don't absolutely, completely love making something as transitory and unnecessary a pleasure as dessert.

#29 chefpeon

chefpeon
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Posted 23 July 2005 - 02:17 PM

Yay maggie! :smile: You SAID it, girlfriend!!!

And I TOTALLY hear you about culinary externs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :laugh:

#30 alligande

alligande
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Posted 24 July 2005 - 08:17 AM

Before deciding on culinary school there is another topic on the board that is relevant > Pastry chef salary & compensation (I cant figure out how to link), I have a MS in historic preservation and knew that the field did not pay well, but did realize how badly, so I continued to cook for a living. Dont regret the degree as I still love the subject.
On the subject of externs and recent grads I used to get J&W students who thought our food was beneath them, but they could not cook a burger to temp or handle any type of line pressure, and then wondered why they where getting paid less than the line cooks without a degree who could handle all you could throw at them.
I think Steve is right on target, a well rounded education is important, as is travel and seeing other places.