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Those in the Cake Business... - Page 2

post #31 of 45
Eeyore,
I read your post and agree with it whole heartedly. Your opinion seems to be the general attitude.
As you know I'm a hair over 40:lol: so a little bit old fashioned. I think our industry has followed many others in that by people have branched out and become specialist in certain things.
Here's my concern, if you specialize in pasrty arts and spend little time on the hot side I feel you will be at a huge disadvantage if your put in a situation where you may work side by side. Now I know this is not what we are talking about here, but sometimes we can always get what we want.
I have seen quite a few Pastry Chefs crash and burn at the hands of an Exec. Chef, Catering Sales, or F&B. The main reason being, they did not have enough food knowledge to stand up for themselves when it came to pairings and menu design. I've had Pastry Chefs tell me they would break out in hives when the sales staff would come down to design a desert for 500++ and would be toting their little pastry books:D This also happens the other way around, when your superiors play Pastry Chef.
Just a thought, and would like to hear from the hot side if they dare;)

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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
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post #32 of 45
This is just my two cents (I just finished a Professional Baking program.) The school portion of the program was really good because we learned a lot of the basics in baking, pastry, chocolate, cakes, some of the more traditional cake decorating (sacher, dobos...), nutrition and labelling, inventory, and management. The most important part of the course though was the co-op work terms. For the work term I just finished I was working at a french bakery and pastry shop and I learned more there in two weeks than all my time at school.

The best advice I could possibly give you is to go to a program that's a little more on the short side (mine was 9 months,) but make sure there's work terms, because that's really where you'll learn the most.

That's my advice, take it or leave it (just please don't bash me for something.)
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Want to see what I'm getting up to at college and in my spare time? Check out my blog or feel free to recommend one you think I might like!
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post #33 of 45
Andrea,
What's to bash? great input! Sounds like you found just what you need.
It makes the hair stand up on the back of my head {that's the only place it grows now}. When I hear about this seperation in kitchen duties. When I was coming up and knapsacking around Europe, it was just as important to know what would make my souffle drop as it was to have a raft break.
I only mention this because recently I have eaten at some very upscale establishments where the Chef and Pasrty Chef have much notoriety. I have ended my meal on a downer because the dessert {wonderful} was not a good finish to the meal. I recently ate in Nappa at a very well known restaurant, I always ask for what the chef is eating, well I was served an acidic scallop starter, Venison w/ huckelberry (acidic} and acidic salad and an acidic dessert.
I guess I wish they would close the gap between professions and require everyone to learn some of both ends.
Pan

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
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post #34 of 45
that's why I like Johnson and Wales, the Culinary program has one term where they have to do Pastry work.
Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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post #35 of 45
The other thing to consider is the huge disparity in salaries - if you are financing your culinary education, you may be left with a large debt to finance and your salary as an entry level baker may leave you with a really tight budget to live on. Student loans are student loans no matter where you go to school, but why saddle yourself with a huge debt when you leave?

You will learn more in the real time environment of a leading bakery in your area; but school offers a rounded education (the sanitation, ordering/purchasing, etc). You can always go to school so maybe before you enroll anywhere, get a job in a bakery - even as counter help or a cashier. Get in and be willing to do anything (wash dishes, mop floors) and you will have a chance to watch their daily production and eventually as they see how helpful and ambitious you are, you'll be able to move up.

Good luck...
post #36 of 45

my 2 cents

Save your $50k, go to work for a bakery or cake designer, and take some classes from some great designers. Colette Peters does classes, as do a lot of other successful cake people. Cake decorating message boards have some great information on them - Sugarcraft is one of them. Ace of Cakes (food Tv) is a cool show, and you can see what high-end cake sculpting is really like.
post #37 of 45
I totally agree with this path, and if you still love it...then you can go to culinary school
Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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post #38 of 45

Similar situation

[QUOTE=AshleyLuvsCake;180701]I do appreciate everyones input, thank you. I still haven't ruled out school because I think I would just enjoy it if nothing else and I would like to learn more than just pastry as a personal thing, but there is a course for 1/2 the cost in laguna beach that is only 6 months no pastry that may be well worth it.

I am in a simliar situation as you in trying to decide what to do about school except I am pursuing Personal Chef. I would like to round out my education by adding pastry courses. I totally understand where you are coming from. I would love to go to CIA but its really expensive! I am turning 40 this year so I think I will stick with the local Culinary Arts school where I will earn a diploma. IT is very difficult to decide what is best with so many people pushing degree/diploma and then so many others telling you experience is the best bet. Like you, I want to do the schooling part for ME, so that I feel better about my base knowledge.
Goodl luck to you.. keep me posted on what you decide!

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post #39 of 45
Wow Eeyore I am definitely going to take what you have to say to heart. I too have dreams of opening up my own cake business. Thx so much for the great advice...keep it coming. I love this site!
post #40 of 45

Advice for Ashley

Dear Ashley: Welcome to Chef Talk! I'm a student at The French Pastry School in Chicago, and do have a bit of advice. Like yourself, I only wanted to do cakes, but I felt is was important wanted to have a full education in the Pastry Arts before embarking on a new career. There are many things to consider before jumping head first into this industry, and you need to have a clear understanding about what you are heading into. Please search the Chef Talk archives for any and all advice the seasoned professionals on this board have offered up; it's INVALUABLE information!!

There is absolutely no need to go through a full culinary program if all you are interested in is cakes. Of course the good folks at Le Cordon Bleu told you it was the place to be!! It's called keeping up their numbers, and they will tell you exactly what you WANT to hear in order to get you enrolled. Please understand that they are in business to make money, and a big part of that business is to keep their classes full. You do not need to spend that kind of money to learn about cakes!!!

NOW, if you really want to only do cakes then you can go a much cheaper route. Go to Wilton and take some classes! They will teach you basic construction, working with fondant, gumpaste techniques, and pastillage. OR, find a culinary school (either close to you or in another city) that offers continuing education courses. You can learn about flavor profiling, advanced contruction techniques, and many other thiongs the cake professional needs to know.

Have you checked out any of the magazines dedicated to the art of cake baking and decorating? It's a great jumping off point, and is MUCH cheaper than enrolling in a culinary program. Another idea is to do research on the top cake designers in the country such as Colette Peters, Cake Girls, Nicholas Lodge, or Ron Ben Israel. They have links on their websites to many resources essential to the cake professional.

Please understand that cake making/decorating is a VERY EXPENSIVE BUSINESS endeavor. You will have to purchase a lot of specialty equipment, trust me. Before you do that, find a bakery in your area that specializes in cakes and volunteer to work a shift. Explain to the owner/manager about your interest in working in the industry; you will be surprised at how willing people are to let you do so. It will give you a real, tangible idea of what to expect, and what not to expect. I'll just leave it at that.

Best of luck in your pursuit of cake making/decorating!!!

xoxox
Audrey
post #41 of 45
In my area, skilled cake decorators are in demand.
post #42 of 45

Just to throw another 2cents in there even though this thread is quite old. I would encourage anyone without a college diploma to get one. The business courses, math classes, working with other students to solve problems, budgeting of time, energy and resources are all good experiences for anyone who wants to eventually open a cake business. Business owners must wear many hats, as we all know, not just the chef's hat :)

post #43 of 45

Are you saying "diploma" (certificate) or "degree" (B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S., PhD), there is a WORLD of difference!

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Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #44 of 45

Hey Ashley- I was reading your post and there is some really great advice on here! I was wondering what you decided to do- school or no school? How's it going so far?

post #45 of 45

Hi Ashley -

 

Wow - I just read through all the response you received to your initial post.  Here's my 2 cents.  I was a career changer who decided to pursue my passion in baking and went to culinary school (The CIA) for a degree in baking and pastry arts, with no prior hands-on or bakery experience.   Although I made the right decision to go to school, I watched many others start with the same dreams and passion as you expressed, only to drop out after they actually got their hands into it.   I also have recently completed all of the Wilton cake decorating classes because cakes are not something I do a lot of.  Yes, some of the techniques in those classes are geared towards home cooks, but its a great way to gain some very inexpensive hands-on experience working with fondant, gumpaste, etc.  You might learn you don't actually like it OR it may confirm your desire to pursue cakes as a career and seek out more advanced, professional training.  As others have suggested, try to get an entry-level position in a local bakery you admire, or see if they will at least let you trail for a while (unpaid position and a chance for you to observe what goes on).   Take some inexpensive classes first and see if you still love it once you spend hours doing it.  Create cakes for friends and family members to hone your skills.  Best of luck - life is too short not to pursue your dreams.

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