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Cooking Schools in Europe

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi, I haven't posted before, but I'm really hoping you guys can help me out.

I went to college for professional baking back home (in Canada,) and when the course was over (august of this year) I moved to Ireland. Now, I don't have a student visa, so I'm not allowed to go to school full-time, so I was wondering if anyone knows some really good cooking schools that offer either part-time courses or even workshops. I've also been trying to find schools that offer one-day courses in Switzerland, Belgium, or France. I speak french, so that's no problem. I am interested in becoming a pastry chef, and particularly interested in chocolate work right now, so even suggestions of places to visit would be much appreciated.

(Unfortunately I'm not working in a kitchen right now, I'm doing retail work instead. I had a job interview for a pastry cook position, but I got kind of overwhelmed by European pastry.)

Again, any help would be much appreciated,
Andrea
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post #2 of 10
I don't have any specific schools but why not contact the French education department and try to arrange a stage in a European pastry shop. (I think Lenotre does them).

Since I am assuming that you want to work on the professional level I would stay away from the famous schools LCB, Escoffier, La Verrene. Most employees I have had from there felt, and were, unprepared for real production based pastry work.
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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post #3 of 10
HI Andrea.

One of my favorite destinations for pastry in Europe is Austria. There are some fine pastry shops there, perhaps you could try to get a job in one of them? One of my faves is Cafe Zauner in Bad Ischl. In Vienna there's Demel, which I like better than Sacher, but Zauner is above them both IMO. Cafe Central (sp) might be a possibility too. Just some thoughts.

Since you're in Ireland there's Ballymaloe, don't know how good it is but if you're near, you could see if they have anything day course wise that would be of interest to you. I know they do short courses. It's broader than pastry.
post #4 of 10
I just read closer and saw your interest in chocolate.

I have heard that there is a bit of a shortage of young chocolate makers, that it's an aging population, if you're interested. To train, there's CAP - Candidates for the Certificat d'Aptitude Professionelle can train at an apprentice center (they call them CFAs). These are long programs though, I think two years for the CAP if it's in chocolate making and confectionery, or you can do two years in a patisserie then do a year specializing in chocolate and confectionery. You sign a contract with a business at the beginning.

There are all sorts of guilds in France, L'academie Francaise du Chocolate et de la Confiserie, Confrerie des Chocolatiers Francais... maybe someone could point you in a direction. Or you could look for listings of top chocolate makers and go from there. (hint, no shortage of them in Paris, but there are many in other locations).

In January there are a couple events, Intersuc, (of chocolate making as well as baking, etc.) in Paris, and ISM the International Confectionery Exhibit at the Salon de Cologne, 12 rue Chernovitz, Paris. Maybe those are some ideas as places to start too.
post #5 of 10
IMO,

Your in Europe. Take the chance and forget about school. Go and try to find a job in a pastry shop. Find a Good pastry shop, (Stir it up mentioned some) and jsut say hey, Ill work cheap I want the experience and to learn. If you find a realyl good place maybe even work for free if you can.

You will be getting real experience in Europe. That will pay for itself in your resume and in the future.
post #6 of 10
I agree with GRK! and those appreticeships I'm talking about in France if you're into that, are placements in pro shops. But I do love the pastry shops of Austria. I've been to Switzerland, France and Belgium but Austria really stands out in my mind for pastry shops. My fond memory of Belgium is stepping off the train and immediately smelling chocolate. But I wasn't there long enough to tell you much.

I think GRK has a great attitude about being able to learn more in a real shop, and maybe that's worth working for free for a while like he says, but perhaps you could offer to do that until you're not overwhelmed as you say by European pastries, say offer to work/train for a month for free then get paid from there on if you need the income to live.
post #7 of 10
thanks stir,


I would love to beable to travel aboard but being, 27, married, and haveing responisblities really prevents that. but If I knew this is that I wanted to do back when I was younger I would have traveled and just learned.

No amount of schooling can replace real world expereince.

But Like Stir said. maybe work out a deal. Train for free then get paid for living expenses. Maybe ask the place for a 1 month free trial (so to say) then if they think you are worth have them pay you. If they dont want to eitehr continue to work for free or find another place.

From what I know in france, (alot of my chefs in school came or lived in france) said that you usually work for free for a while becuase you are gaining valuable expereince.

If you do plan to take this route. Think of it this way with pay. at least i do.

the better of the place the longer you work for free. Once you stop learning or feel you have learned everything. Move on.


So what is the situtation, such as money, living arrangments, length in europe etc....
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hey, I'll fill you guys in a little better about my situation:

I'm living an hour out of Dublin and working (full time in a shop) in the city center (which is good because it gives me a chance to check out the food scene here, and enough money to pay the bills and travel a bit and check out the rest of the country.) It is pretty expensive to live here though, so working for free isn't an option, unless I'm doing full-time at the shop and part time in a restaurant, which will probably just lead to burn-out.

I'm only here for eight more months, at most, and then over to the UK for up to twelve. Unfortunately, I can't work anywhere except Ireland for now, and the UK later (it's a work visa/permit issue.) I was really hoping to be able to work in France (got some contacts there from my French-Pastry-Chef-boss back in Canada,) but even if I work for free, I'd be running the risk of getting caught and getting the company into trouble ( I still have a list of pastry shops and chocolatiers to go visit, and I'll try to see if I can talk to people and take some notes!)

You guys are right about just getting out there and getting experience. So even though I'm working full-time now, I'm going to be handing out a couple CV's this week for part-time restaurant work (I'll just talk to my boss and reduce some of my hours at the shop.) At this point, I'm not even looking specifically for pastry work, but just getting back into a kitchen and getting some experience and contacts over here.

I was hoping to train under a belgian chocolatier near Dublin, but that seems to have fallen through. I was really excited about that, then pretty down after it fell through, but now I'm just more determined to get back into the industry. I can always get into chocolate later, I just need to get back into the industry first.

GRK, I think what you're talking about is the apprenticeship program that they have in a lot of european countries. I remember my instructor in college telling us that for his apprenticeship in Switzerland they had to work for a year for free (it was assumed that the bakery would loose money on you,) a second year where you were paid very little (they started to make a little bit of money with you,) and a third year at regular pay (because you were finally helping them make money.) I'd love to do that if I was still living at home, but paying rent and bills?...

My instructor in college gave me a bunch of advice before I left, and he told me that wherever I go to apply for a job, tell them that I am there to LEARN, because my education is pretty much crap compared to what they get over here.

Stir It Up, even though I can't work there, thanks for the heads up on the events in Paris, I'm actually planning on taking a short holiday in January to France, Belgium and Switzerland, so those events are definately something to look into. It sounds like I should make a stop in Austria, I only know french and english though, so it will have to be a short stay (I spent a pretty rough day in Frankfurt, and that was only one day.)

I've actually had a few people recommend Ballymaloe (they're near Cork, which is only about 4 hours away. Not far if you come from Canada.) They don't have too many courses on right now that really interest me, but as soon as one comes up, I'll sign up (and I'll let you guys know how it goes.) They are supposed to be quite good.

Breton Beats, thanks for the heads up about the schools, I was really surprised by LCB though; I've always held that one up pretty high, so it's interesting to hear that from you (and makes me feel better about my college course!)

Thank you guys so much for the advice, and I'll try to keep you guys updated on any events and courses that I go to.

Wish me luck handing out the CVs!
(Thanks again)
Andrea
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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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 #9 of 10
Andrea, in Austria I did ok with a crash course on cassette for a fairly basic vocabulary. Sure not everyone speaks English there, but there are a few here and there in the outlying areas, in Vienna you can get by in English. My husband got by with "ein tasse kaffe mit milch und zuker, bitte.";) You can at least point to the fabulous pastries in the case and order them LOL, and now you know how to get a coffee, so what else do you need.

Do you know where you're going in Switzerland, I've been to many places there, though it's been a "few" years.
post #10 of 10
I'm with you in this one...
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There is nothing like a weekend off!
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