Why Pastry School?

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I’ve always loved baking. You can probably tell this by taking one look at my blog.

But I wanted to learn more. I wanted to understand why failures in the kitchen happen and how to prevent them. I also wanted to know how to make those fancy, gorgeous plated desserts seen at fine dining restaurants, and how to make caramel without overcooking it (Mine always got way too hard).

Oh, and how to make authentic French croissants that create a zillion little flakes when bitten into.

There were a dozen reasons like these. Sure, I could read cookbooks and baking tips, or watch online how-to videos. What I really wanted though, was a formal education, where I could learn directly under a master in the art itself.

Photograph (Below): A plate of freshly baked French croissants

Croissants

My stint in pastry school was a great decision for me. I’m sure there are others who may argue with that statement. But you take out of it what you put into it. Whether it’s due to the current economy, or simply a choice to change careers, there are a lot more people interested in pursuing a job in the pastry profession.

For some, this means attending a culinary school with a baking and pastry arts program. Culinary school is not cheap! This can make enrolling in a program a tough decision.

I’ve decided to dedicate a special section of my blog to my posts on my culinary school experience. I also have a few tips to offer:

1. Make sure that you really take the time to observe and ask questions during your school visit. You shouldn’t feel pressured to attend by the prestige of a school if you don’t like the school. You will learn the most in a setting that you find satisfying.

2. This may be obvious, but pay attention to the chef instructors when visiting a school. They should enjoy teaching.

3. Do your research on your chef instructors. Sometimes it is their own personal stories or tips that serve you the most. Their past resumes are also crucial because you want the person teaching you to be a true expert in his or her craft. Otherwise what are you paying for?

4. Understand the pastry field. It is so much more than just baking cakes and pies. Pastry is an art form and requires a tremendous deal of patience, stamina, and a positive attitude.

5. Don’t commit yourself to culinary school unless you can fully commit to it.

Good luck!

Photograph (Below): Chocolate rose on chocolate showpiece

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There Are 3 Responses So Far. »

  1. I have a question; did you go to culinary school or just take pastry classes somewhere? I’ve recently been interested in pastry classes but like you said culinary school is not cheap! I just want to know what you did! Thanks

  2. Hi Jillian- I went to The French Pastry School in Chicago, IL for their baking and pastry arts program- L’art de la Patisserie. Check out their website, http://www.frenchpastryschool.com. It was one of the best decisions I ever made! Good luck and follow your heart!

  3. Think it is also important to note that, at least in my experiance, pastry is very hard to break into. I manage the bakery in a high profile restaurant and we dont have time to train, someone has to plug right in. its not like on the culinary side where one can work prep and salads to hone their skills. To be honest weve only had four resumes (that includes mine and my assistant’s application) in two years of people wanting to work in my department; every boh resume is for a cook position.

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