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!
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