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French Pastry School, Chicago ..or France?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi there,
I'm a student finishing up my B.Sc. Degree in Anthropology in Toronto. I currently have a cool job (archaeological fieldworker for a company that does contract work), but i'm weary about advancing in the field. I don't think i can handle the academic aspects of this field and i'm just not particularily motivated enough to make a career out of it. It was never something i even expected to be doing, and while working outdoors is great, to advance, you gotta do more academics.

ANYWAY, i've always loved cooking (ok, here comes the cliche part) and actually its the only thing i feel i have ever had a passion for. I think i need this kind of hands on work. i'd love to get rid of all the self-doubt that comes with doing something that others around me actually really LOVE doing (whereas i simply chose it out of a list of options).
So i'm considering incurring heavy debt and going into cooking in the somewhat near future...

I found out about the French Pastry school in Chicago doing a simple google search, and it looks good. Does anyone know how it rates or have any comments?
I saw this comment on another thread:

"The French Pastry School recently started teaching in conjunction with Washburn and I believe their program to be top notch. I have also heard that some of their students have been aprenticing at a few of our city's better restaurants (including Trotters). Maybe they are on the upturn."

Ideally, i want to work in restaurants, cafes, bakeries...and i like the idea that being self-employed in the future is a definate possibility.
I plan on maybe going to France/Europe after the 24 week program and finding work for a while, before returning to Canada.

Does all this sound viable?

Also, which schools are recommended in France?

PS_ chicago seems like a random choice for a Torontonian, but my mother just recently moved there, so why not spend 6 months closer to her if the school is decent :)
post #2 of 11

Lcb

hi, Eda and everyone,

i've been thinking about studying for a pastry cert or diploma during the past 2 years. although i've got a master's degree in finance, i never feel completely satisfied with what i do at work. i am like Eda that i've always loved cooking (there are a lot more cooking and pastry books than finance books on my book shelf!), and decided that i must at least try to do this or i will regret it for the rest of my life, and finally i quitted my research job at a university about 2 months ago!

i prefer pastry because i love desserts and chocolates and i think it's more suitable for a female who is physically small (i'm only 5 feet tall :D ). i took an online 3-month chocolatier course last september and have been taking 1-day pastry course occasionally with local (hongkong) pastry chefs.

in the past, i always think that LCB in Paris is the place to go to, but it is too big of an investment at this initial stage. after talking to pastry chefs, researching and considering my financial situation, my 2 final choices came down to LCB in Ottawa and the French Pastry School. in the past week, i think i will apply for a basic pastry cert at LCB in Ottawa because it can give me more flexibility in terms of what i can do in the short term and long term. i want see what i can do with the basic cert first, and i can always continue for the higher level certificates in the future at LCB Ottawa or Paris if i need to. but well, if i am richer, and live in US or Canada, i would choose the French Pastry School...

Eda: good luck with your search!

;)
post #3 of 11
Hey Eda...I'm a current student at The French Pastry School. All I can stay is...the school is amazing. You have chefs Jacquy Pfeiffer and Sebastien Canonne who are known throughout the world. Chef Sebastien not long ago received his MOF, Chef Jacquy was named Celebrity Pastry Chef of the year 2005 , and Chef John Kraus won the Chocolate Challenge award in Atlantic City and he has been named one of the Top 10 Pastry Chefs.

I know of one guy, in the morning stream, who's working at Trotter's right now...which is cool. A few others are working a couple well-known pastry shops around Chicago.

Just my 2 cents.

Best wishes with school
Pastry Life Journal


When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun.
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Pastry Life Journal


When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun.
Reply
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks to you both! And Tytitan, that sounds pretty impressive.
Any other comments are still welcomed..
post #5 of 11

Hi everyone, I was going to  start my culinary program  at Kendall College Chicago untill my executive sous chef asked me not to he told me to check the French Pastry School first I just viisited their website today and I really Love it ... so I'm thinking about joinging :D ...

 

P.S : I'm still going for the tour and check the wedding pieces of the FPS to compare them to those at kendall ( I loved them when I visited )...

 

I wish a good luck to all of you ...

 

Myriam :D

post #6 of 11

I urgently need some advice on pastry schools I have seen earlier posts on the French Pastry School and Kendal but no conclusions, if you went to either would you recommend either to a family member? and what about the NY schools has anyone been to one. PLEASE PLEASE your advice would be invaluable.

Many thanks Joy

post #7 of 11

Hi Joy,

 

Can you tell me more what your looking to do? Your title says owner operator so what business are you currently running that would benefit from pastry school? It is a sizable investment and time commitment and I think you could get the same training working for a good restaurant and pastry chef. The one in NY is going to cost even more because of the housing issue so that is definitely something to figure into your cost.

Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
post #8 of 11

Dear Eda and others considering culinary schools.

 

 

Please, please, pretty please with a cherry on top, work first in the industry  before you plunk our money down for a school. 

 

It doesn't matter what kind of a job, supermarket bake-off or M & P muffin shop, but please work at least 6 mths.

 

I kid you not, cooking and baking is a manual trade, and because there are so many restaurants and bakeries around,  people have very little respect for them.  This translates into lousy salaries

 

I also have to inform you that in the U.S., there is no standard as towhat a cook or pastry cook should know or be capable of.  This fact is exploited by many culinary schools and is reflected in their curicculae. Since there are no standards, there are no standards for pay scales.

 

So please work in the industry for a while before you spend big money on a school.  

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #9 of 11

Thanks for the prompt response, I currently run my own at home bakery business catering deserts for small parties, individuals etc but I want to take it to the next level with wedding cakes proffessional finishes etc I'm just not where I want to be yet, so I've been thinking about pastry school........any suggestions??

post #10 of 11

Pastry Chefs were in great demand a few years ago and it was hard to find a good one at least here in Florida . Therefore companies such as ""Sweet Street ""started making excellent cakes,pies and pastries for sale to food service facilities.  I have used them and some are excellent. Cheaper then hiring pastry chef too. Schools may help BUT you have to have it in the hands(artistic qualities) there is a vast difference between a pastry chef and a baker.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #11 of 11

I am living in France and have worked for over 8 years in two culinary and pastry schools. I agree with what foodpump says. If you are considering a career change, try to get a job in the food industry for at least six months. It is hard physical work and not as glamorous as some would think. A nice hobby isn't necessarily a great job.

 

Once you have decided to go for it, here are a few things that you may want to research:

  • How many hands on hours in the kitchen will you actually do in the kitchen. This varies GREATLY from school to school. Some schools do mostly demos in amphitheaters and the students don't touch much dough ! Other schools focus on hands on. This makes a great difference.
  • How many students in a class?
  • Will you be working alone or in pairs or in groups of four.? In some schools, one students make the pie shell, the other makes the filling etc.  Ideally you want to make the whole production from A to Z. Of course, some things like watching the cream whip in a mixer can be done in pairs, but you want to do as much as possible by yourself.
  • Does the school arrange an internship at a reputable pastry shop at the end of the program? This is more common in Europe. Where do the students go? For how long. Remember, in an internship it takes at least 4 to 6 weeks for your hosting company to get to know you and to trust you with any responsibility. It will take you that long to get to know their way of doing things too. An internship of at least three months is ideal.  They aren't well paid either...... Can you live during this time with little income?
  • In France, all the schools use excellent ingredients. I imagine the same is true elsewhere.
  • Are there any theory classes in food science? Hygiene and security etc?  Pastry science is particularly helpful. If you understand intellectually how something works, you can tweek the recipe when it doesn't work in your environment. This is important if you are going to work in another country where the ingredients aren't the same or if the environment is more humid etc.

 

Choosing a school is a huge investment. Check out all of your options. Don't worry about age. Some of the best students are older and  come from very intellectual fields such as finance, marketing etc. IT may take you a while to acquire good eye hand coordination. At first you may think you have two left hands and wonder why they don't do what you want them to. Just be patient :-)

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