Pros: Supportive teaching staff, nice facilities,comprehensive curriculum, less expensive than other schools.
Cons: Long class hours, Chef instructor to student ratio
I am currently a student in the Pastry and Baking Program at South Seattle College. This college also has a thriving culinary program, wine school and offers a bachelors degree in hospitality. So far I have had a positive experience at South. The Pastry and Baking Program is a production based program, so we students are supplying breads, cookies and pastries for the school cafeteria, special events, weekly luncheons, coffee house and special orders from the general public. The pace can vary greatly depending on the production needs for the week, and when its slow we get to work on some special projects.
The curriculum is broken down into a quarterly basis with a theory based lecture class accompanying a lab class. The curriculum covers cookies, cakes, specialty desserts, decorating, breads, viennoiserie, fancy desserts, chocolate, sugar work, and general bakeshop management.
The instructors are amazing. Very patient, knowledgeable and great at juggling the needs of so many students. Each instructor is responsible for up to 30 students with 3 different quarterly focuses, which sometimes creates a line and wait time to get some personal attention from your chef instructor. The 6th quarter students also act as assistants to the instructor and rotate through helping each class.
As a community college this school is much more affordable than some of the other schools in the Seattle area, with a tuition around $10,000 for the AA degree. It also has a great reputation. While tuition is more affordable there is still the up front cost of uniforms and supplies, which can run an upwards of $800.
This program is quite the time commitment with classes all day long 5 days a week for 6 quarters (18 months). After the baking classes from 7AM - 1:30PM, M-F; there are the other requirements like math, english, nutrition, sanitation and other general education classes that are required for the degree.
Like anything in life, you get what you put into it and this program is no different. I am having a great time trying new things, learning from experience, meeting people with similar interests and pushing my personal edges.