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Desiderio

Pastry schools

53 posts in this topic

I have a question that maybe someone here can answer (sorry if they have been and I missed them).

Why do the schools require that you take the culinary course before allowing you to take the pastry course? (The 2 local to me require this) I have looked into both schools here and both are quite expensive when combined with the culinary course. Not to sound crass, but, I want to bake, not julienne and sear. I don't see that that Culinary part is necessary for me to be able to bake. (If you disagree here, please be kind in telling me)

I would love to be able to just take a Pastry Course, unforyunately, that isn't possible as the schools I've found that offer just Pastry are way too far to commute (out of state) and I don't think my Husband, kiddos and boss would allow me the time off to attend. :biggrin:

Thanks for any light anyone can shed on this for me.

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artistic sugarworks,

you seem to already have a cake business up and running. what are you looking for in attending pastry school?

you might be better served by taking some continuing education courses at culinary schools (to bolster your skills where you think you need them). the french pastry school in chicago has a lot of very interesting three day courses throughout the year taught either by their staff or guest chefs who are tops in their field. i'm sure the schools in new york city also offer these short classes.

as an investment in your business, they are probably tax deductible expenses and three days at a time three or more times a year...i'm sure your family could spare you :wink:

just something to think about.


Edited by alanamoana (log)

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This has been a good thread, as have all the similar ones I've read over the years. (As with "what shoes do you wear in the kitchen," this topic returns perennially.)

As someone who has seen the whole gamut, from elite high schools to large public universities to the Ivy League and community college, let me offer the following:

I am a career changer, and as someone who vacilated for nearly 10 years about whether to switch, whether transforming a hobby into a job would lead me to hate it, I would wholeheartedly do it again, and sooner, if I could. But certainly only make an informed switch -- read all the threads like this you can, read "The Making of a Pastry Chef," talk to working PCs, etc. It's not easy, but no career is. Buty if you have a sense of the difficulties, you're ahead of many students who only find out over time.

There is no one perfect solution. The private programs at the ICE and FCI offer a good education, but their tradeoff is money for time. You finish quickly, which for students I've known from there was most important to them. My program -- I'm enrolled in the AAS Hospitality Management program at the New York City College of Technology -- takes longer and is a more general degree. But the entire degree costs 1/4 of that at FCI... the longer time is a drag, but it provides a longer "seasoning" time -- I've had time to work the James Beard Awards, the U.S. Pastry Competition, the Salon of Culinary Arts, help run a culinary workshop program, etc. My networking opportunities have been just as good as those of anyone from those other programs, and I've had time to develop a good professional development plan. I've met or worked with as many or more "big name" PCs as some people I know at those other programs. It's a function of your aims and ambitions, not the program you attend.

But very important to note: If you attend FCI or many of the other more expensive programs, you need to understand that the Federal title those programs are under changes the amounts of aid available. I was supposed to start at FCI in 2001, and had to cancel because of the cost. The program was $24K(?) but only $4K was available in Federal loans. The rest was up to me, and private loans are a dicey proposition (I have some from my graduate school days, and they are rough).

In contrast, my program at CityTech is fully-coverable under Federal aid. I'm taking loans, but other students cover their full tuition with grants. And when I graduate, these loans can be consolidated and fixed, unlike private loans.

In bristling defense of community colleges: Hey, having been at nearly every type of school, I will attest that students with half-assed motivations and poor attitudes exist everywhere... as do brilliant underachievers, brilliant overachievers, students with a heart of gold and high hopes but poor preparation, working mothers who are talented but pressed on every side by competing demands, etc. The full range of types were there at my "gifted" high school, at my large public university for my first degree, my Ivy League graduate program, and now at my community college.


Brian Ibbotson

Pastry Sous for Production and Menu Research & Development

Sous Chef for Food Safety and Quality Assurance

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In bristling defense of community colleges: Hey, having been at nearly every type of school, I will attest that students with half-assed motivations and poor attitudes exist everywhere... as do brilliant underachievers, brilliant overachievers, students with a heart of gold and high hopes but poor preparation, working mothers who are talented but pressed on every side by competing demands, etc. The full range of types were there at my "gifted" high school, at my large public university for my first degree, my Ivy League graduate program, and now at my community college.

Thank you for this most eloquent argument...the opposite of what mine would have been had I allowed myself the pleasure...

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I have to weigh in here for a second .

I have very mixed opinions on school BUT...

From what I've seen, C.C.'s are a 50/50 thing, I've had to show people how to properly blanch a green vegetable after they've been in school for over a year.

Most importantly, if you know that pastry is going to be your gig, that's your passion, I don't think there's any question that you probably want to bite the bullet and do the 6 month intensive course at the French Pastry School in Chicago like nightscotsman did.

With teachers that are French, one of them an MOF, both of them great, GREATLY respected chefs and now they have an American on their team too.

Your "return on investment" may not be great but if you're considering working in the food/restaurant business you shouldn't be thinking you're going to make very much money anyways.

At least with these guys they seem to have a decent placement program and if I was doing this again the only places I would be going to would be Vegas or somewhere where you could make decent money.

ICE also seems to have a decent program and some graduates who've done well ( 11 Madison Pastry chef Nicole Kaplan).


2317/5000

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Hi Desiderio,

My wife will be doing the Pastry Arts program at Culinary School of the Rockies in October (as long as she get accepted).

I took a home class there a few years back. It was their Chocolate Extravaganza class. Three years later, we are one year into our own chocolate business and our next step is to open a chocolate café here in Fort Collins so one of us need some real pastry education.

My wife currently works at Whole Foods Market in the bakery and one of her co-workers went through the program and loved it.

We went to the open house they had two weeks ago and got to meet the staff and Chef Elizabeth the pastry instructor.

It does seem a little high, but wen you think about it, you are getting uniforms, books, knives, ingredients for 23 days, plus you put on a graduation pastry buffet for all your friends and family. Classes are limited to 12 with two instructors.

I don't know, my wife and I just get a good vibe from there.... Hope this helps.

Patrick

www.PSILoveYouChocolates.com


Edited by patsikes (log)

Patrick Sikes

www.MyChocolateJournal.com

A new chocolate review community

PS I Love You Fine Chocolates

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Hi Desiderio,

My wife will be doing the Pastry Arts program at Culinary School of the Rockies in October (as long as she get accepted).

I took a home class there a few years back.  It was their Chocolate Extravaganza class.  Three years later, we are one year into our own chocolate business and our next step is to open a chocolate café here in Fort Collins so one of us need some real pastry education.

My wife currently works at Whole Foods Market in the bakery and one of her co-workers went through the program and loved it.

We went to the open house they had two weeks ago and got to meet the staff and Chef Elizabeth the pastry instructor. 

It does seem a little high, but wen you think about it, you are getting uniforms, books, knives, ingredients for 23 days, plus you put on a graduation pastry buffet for all your friends and family.  Classes are limited to 12 with two instructors.

I don't know, my wife and I just get a good vibe from there....  Hope this helps.

Patrick

www.PSILoveYouChocolates.com

Ohh thats great Patrick!!! You guys are just close to me ( well I am in Mead ).

I will give it a try and go myabe to one of their open house , leave my info to the web site for info I guess.

Will it be ok if I stop one of these days to visit you guys at your shop, I would love to see your place, I am dying to get out of my old job and get to the chocolate life ( not because I think I will get rich of course ) only because you know how it is , gotta follow your guts , I just love making chocolates.

Thank you so much for your fedback, I hope I will meet you guys soon then .

Vanessa :smile:


Vanessa

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Hey Vanessa,

It has been a busy week. We do not have a shop yet, just the website, some really great repeat customers, and wholesales to places like The Cupboard in Fort Collins.

We will be doing production this Saturday for Mother's Day if you want to stop by... Email me if you are interested.

Patrick


Patrick Sikes

www.MyChocolateJournal.com

A new chocolate review community

PS I Love You Fine Chocolates

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Hey Vanessa,

It has been a busy week.  We do not have a shop yet, just the website, some really great repeat customers, and wholesales to places like The Cupboard in Fort Collins. 

We will be doing production this Saturday for Mother's Day if you want to stop by...  Email me if you are interested.

Patrick

Thank you Patrick sorry I can immagine how buisy , I only do little production for few costumers at the moment and have a full time job like you guys , its hard to keep up :wacko: .

Thank you I will keep in touchh :smile:


Vanessa

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I wanted to add that I took a Bread Techniques 5-day "vacation class" at the Culinary School of the Rockies a few years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and learned so much. My instructor was Elizabeth Perreault who had worked as a pastry chef in a variety of restaurants in Boulder. We had about six students in the class. Other students had come from Michigan, Oklahoma and New Mexico and most had taken more than one class at the school. The people working at the school did seem very friendly. I am wondering if you could go over and talk to the teachers about your experience and plans for the future. They have a variety of different classes and programs and could recommend the right one for you. Another possibility is that in our breadmaking class we had a teacher assistant who took the class for free in exchange for helping the teacher find things and clean up. Maybe you could see if they still have this assistant program. I hope it works out well for you.

--Debbie S.

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I wanted to add that I took a Bread Techniques 5-day "vacation class" at the Culinary School of the Rockies a few years ago.  I thoroughly enjoyed the class and learned so much.  My instructor was Elizabeth Perreault who had worked as a pastry chef in a variety of restaurants in Boulder.  We had about six students in the class.  Other students had come from Michigan, Oklahoma and New Mexico and most had taken more than one class at the school.  The people working at the school did seem very friendly.  I am wondering if you could go over and talk to the teachers about your experience and plans for the future.  They have a variety of different classes and programs and could recommend the right one for you.  Another possibility is that in our breadmaking class we had a teacher assistant who took the class for free in exchange for helping the teacher find things and clean up.  Maybe you could see if they still have this assistant program.  I hope it works out well for you.

--Debbie S.

Thank you Debbie for you fed back . That actually sounds very very interesting, I probably will take few days off work in may , and I think that will be a good chance to go and talk to them see around and have a feeling for it.

Thank you :smile:


Vanessa

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Hello. I'm so pleased to have found egullet. I'm a new member just getting acquainted with the site. Partially inspired by Neil Robertson's amazing pastry pictures, I've applied to The French Pastry School in Chicago. This is a career switch for me so I'm going in mostly blind. If accepted, I'll have 6 months before the program begins. I would really appreciate any advice regarding preparation (reading, projects, etc.) Thanks so much!

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Get a job in a kitchen before you pay money for schooling in this field. You will find out before hand if you're cutout for the industry. I see a bunch of people spend a ton of money on school and then when they graduate and start working in a kitchen, they decide this isn't the career for them. Now they're 40k in debt with no job and a $600 monthly payment on schooling that they will never use.

So do yourself a favor and work in a kitchen before you spend thousands of dollars on schooling. If you have already worked in a kitchen, then get a job specifically for pastry. In other words, there's no better preparation than working in a professional kitchen.

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The best prep you can do in the next 6 months is to get a job in a pastry kitchen or bakery.....Pastry is a great field to get into if you are made for it. You need to know that it's nothing like TV, it is hard work, long hours, little pay and a lot of repitition. On the other hand it can be very creative and not much feels better than a customer telling you how much they enjoyed something you made. Desserts are a cause for celebration and as a pastry cook you get to be a part of that celebration, from a distance.

Good books to read are the CIA's baking and pastry book, bo friedberg's books, on food and cooking by harrold magee. Peter Grewling's book on chocolates and confections is AWESOME! Alton Brown's book on baking is good too.....Baking is a science and the more you know about the ingredients and what they do, the better.

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The best prep you can do in the next 6 months is to get a job in a pastry kitchen or bakery.....Pastry is a great field to get into if you are made for it. You need to know that it's nothing like TV, it is hard work, long hours, little pay and a lot of repitition. On the other hand it can be very creative and not much feels better than a customer telling you how much they enjoyed something you made. Desserts are a cause for celebration and as a pastry cook you get to be a part of that celebration, from a distance.

Good books to read are the CIA's baking and pastry book, bo friedberg's books, on food and cooking by harrold magee. Peter Grewling's book on chocolates and confections is AWESOME! Alton Brown's book on baking is good too.....Baking is a science and the more you know about the ingredients and what they do, the better.

Thanks very much for the recommendations!

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that would be Bo Friberg, Harold McGee and Peter Greweling...a little easier to search using the proper spellings

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I would really appreciate any advice regarding preparation (reading, projects, etc.)  Thanks so much!

The best preparation you can have for professional pastry is to get a job or stage at the kind of place you really want to work at... not the corner bakery/cafe if you want to do four-star restaurant plated desserts, or the other way around.

Read, especially egullet, books (in addition to those mentioned, Becoming a Pastry Chef and Becoming a Chef) and blogs -- there are many people in this industry who are generous about sharing their current work and ideas. But given that, the most common irritating thing about students in pastry school (I know this because I teach at one) is that they think they know all about everything because they read about it. You actually have to do it (thus the recommendation to work also) to have questions or an opinion about it. sorry, personal opinion coming through.

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John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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I went to culinary school last year and quickly discovered that the school is more interested in making a profit rather than educating students. The admissions standards were so low that several people in the class could not do basic arithmetic or follow simple instructions, but they passed them through based on effort, not on results. One of the chefs told me straight out that they give praise to students to boost their esteem even if the products were unacceptable. The director of education has a philosophy that everyone has the right to an education and to work in this industry. I told him to his face that he is naive and foolish. Granted, everyone should have access to an education, but that does not mean you have to educate everyone. By allowing the lowest levels into the school, he is lowering the standard of education for everyone. Just because I want to take courses this fall in Nutrition does not mean that I should be able to walk into Yale and start taking classes. I need to meet their standards first. Secondly, not everyone in the culinary industry needs an formal education. We still need busboys, dishwashers, and people to man the fryers at McDonalds.

Its needless to say that I felt that I did not get my money's worth going to Connecticut Culinary.

I recommend that you ask serious questions about their academic standards before selecting a school.

Dan


"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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Secondly, not everyone in the culinary industry needs an formal education. We still need busboys, dishwashers, and people to man the fryers at McDonalds.

While I don't disagree with you about the quality of some students or the reasons for allowing them to attend school, I think Thomas Keller and any number of chefs would take offense at this considering they did not receive a "formal" education in the culinary arts. This argument is the dead horse that has been beaten over and over. Take what you can from your education and the situation and overlook those other students. Trust me when I say that very few employers that are hiring for entry level positions in kitchens are worried about where you got your education. They are much more concerned with how you actually work in a kitchen.

The assumption that the only positions available to people without a formal culinary education are dishwashers, busboys and McDonalds workers is ridiculous.

I just wonder what someone like Bill Gates could have done with his life had he actually finished attending Harvard... :wink:


Edited by alanamoana (log)

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Secondly, not everyone in the culinary industry needs an formal education. We still need busboys, dishwashers, and people to man the fryers at McDonalds.

While I don't disagree with you about the quality of some students or the reasons for allowing them to attend school, I think Thomas Keller and any number of chefs would take offense at this considering they did not receive a "formal" education in the culinary arts. This argument is the dead horse that has been beaten over and over. Take what you can from your education and the situation and overlook those other students. Trust me when I say that very few employers that are hiring for entry level positions in kitchens are worried about where you got your education. They are much more concerned with how you actually work in a kitchen.

The assumption that the only positions available to people without a formal culinary education are dishwashers, busboys and McDonalds workers is ridiculous.

I just wonder what someone like Bill Gates could have done with his life had he actually finished attending Harvard... :wink:

I'm sorry for not getting back to you sooner. I was busy with the JBF awards as a volunteer most of the weekend.

You are 1000% correct. I totally agree that a formal education is by no means a requirement to become a chef. An education by fire is often better than what is available in local culinary schools. Both of the chefs that I worked for this past weekend are field trained and respected enough to be recognized by the James Beard Foundation.

What I was trying to get at was that not everyone who wants to train as a chef, formal or otherwise, should. Schools should attempt to assess the kill level of applicants before admittance. Some of these applicants only have the skill level to be dishwashers, busboys, etc...

There was a student in my class who was segregated from everyone else and provided independent instruction due to poor skills and constant sanitation problems. They passed him through based on effort. The worst part of it is that the school knew full well of his skill level and sanitation problems because he already went through the ACAP program and was fired from his internship at the big mouse for sanitation problems.

Dan


"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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Hello.  I'm so pleased to have found egullet.  I'm a new member just getting acquainted with the site.  Partially inspired by Neil Robertson's amazing pastry pictures, I've applied to The French Pastry School in Chicago.  This is a career switch for me so I'm going in mostly blind.  If accepted, I'll have 6 months before the program begins.  I would really appreciate any advice regarding preparation (reading, projects, etc.)  Thanks so much!

I cannot recommend highly enough the French Professional Pastry Series v1 - 3.


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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John, I just want to clarify that you're talking about the books by Roland Bilheux and Alain Escoffier and not the Bo Friberg books.


Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

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John, I just want to clarify that you're talking about the books by Roland Bilheux and Alain Escoffier and not the Bo Friberg books.

Yep, here's one: Doughs, Batters, and Meringues (French Professional Pastry Series)


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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