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K8memphis

Pastry school & your teenager

38 posts in this topic

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?

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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 (log)

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

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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.

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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.

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I also agree with Steve. There are so many easy to obtain food service positions available--dishwashing is also a very viable heads up on what goes on in the back of the house.

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...

Y'know what though, Foodie52, umm, the Austin school in particular that we are both familiar with has as the last session, a 6-week stint in their snack bar or their restaurant, Ventana. Y'know what??? The only thing I can think of is they could have a department that feeds into the eating establishments but as an intro session, apart from the degree as a remedial class. I think that would be the only other thing that they could possibly do to up the anty.

And, Chef Quinn is always available to the students for assistance. I called him twice and he was wonderful. There is a peer tutor system available for students also. In fact, Chef-boy, my kid formerly known as Chef-wanna-be, was one of the tutors.

You just gotta want to.

In our particular case, Chef-boy's girlfriend lives in Austin--you connecting the dots with me here on this one?? :laugh:

Ok, my kid was bussing at Automatic Slim's here in Memphis during high school. He got another job up the food chain and lined up a friend to do the Slim's job. The friend was a fish out of water absolutely went belly up :rolleyes: just couldn't handle it. I mean I went down there one night & I could hardly handle being in there as a patron the place was jumping so much--wall to wall people, live music, the food, the bar--ok I was actually sitting just outside the door come to think of it. :laugh: But Jonathan handled it easily.

Culinary school is no place for someone who needs to figure out who they wanna be when they grow up. When all you need is a job in the industry to get the immediate understanding of what it's all about, like Steve said.

Umm, that school is $o freaking expen$ive. My boy wanted to quit just because of sticker shock buyer's remorse a couple times early on. We were dying. He had to work real real real hard to convince us to let him go in the first place. He now has the equivalent of a 2 year degree with a 4.0 and perfect attendance. He did his old parents proud. sniff. He is craving more school though. Some science & stuff.

Jonathan could not understand how kids could sign up for school & not show up for classes. I broke the tuition & stuff down to an hourly rate--I can't remember now--but I explained how much it was costing him to attend per hour. Was it $25 an hour?? I can't remember but it's a lot.

So now, Jonathy is across the street from Slim's at The Peabody. He has benefits. He has a nice job. He's completed all his classwork, graduates in January. He has wide open advancement possibilities if he continues to work his scrawny ass off. Still has the pretty girlfriend too--kid's doing good! :laugh: There's a picture of him in his sister's wedding cake demo. A rare extern who can handle the line. Go just past 3/4 down the first page--he's in the tux on the far right in the cake cutting picture.

Y'all can forgive me for bragging on my kid. :biggrin: He kind of figures into where the discussion was going.

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You have every right to be proud!

BTW, my daughter is a senior at Rhodes. Maybe she'll drop by the Peabody some time and say hi!!

No kidding!!! Too cool!!! Rhodes is right down the street from us. Gorgeous campus. Chef-boy is a cook at Capriccio's, the Peabody's Italian $teakhouse. My husband & I are gonna go down there & share a pizza in a few weeks. The kitchen is kind of open so we can see Chef-boy in action. But wait, I don't want to be misleading, Chef-boy is currently in salads, y'know in the process of learning all the stations. He just got out of school 7/1 just got started there.

Small world though, huh?!!

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I sent this link to Chef-boy--he said you have to about murder someone to get kicked out of culinary school and then they'd probably take you back in a couple months. He says the attrition rate is 110% due to not showing up for class, period end of the world.

Oh and I was informed that he also currently does pizzas and pasta with the salads--pardon mois :rolleyes::laugh:

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thats contrary to everything every graduate has ever told me. But for the most part they dont need to kick anyone because the people that would be kicked resign before they can do 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

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I think the most valuable lesson my pastry instructor taught me was his mantra....he repeated this often.....

"You people are NOT CHEFS. When you graduate you will NOT BE CHEFS. You'll be cooks....bakers.....maybe even dishwashers. This course only provides a means to get your foot in the door. The rest is up to you. If you work hard enough, are willing to learn much more than you will ever learn here, follow directions, and don't show attitude, maybe....someday, you will be a CHEF."

Every culinary student needs (I repeat, NEEDS) to hear this!

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There is sooo much good advice on this board learned through experience. Chiantiglace, you have to walk the walk in order to talk the talk. Come back to us after you have been in the trenches for a year or two and tell us how it was.


It is good to be a BBQ Judge.

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what talk? I havent mentioned anything that I havent been through. ONly from what my mentors have passed on to me.


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

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