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I have been working in a pastry kitchen for about a year and a half. I had no experience when I started, but I have grown a lot and feel confident that I want to pursue a career in pastry. Right now I am trying to decide if a formal education in a culinary school will be the next move for me. In talking to chefs about this, they seem to be split evenly b/w those who support going to school and those who believe it's a waste of time/money. I have gained a lot through hands-on experience and don't doubt that one could become a chef without going to school. But I feel that I would benefit from a structured environment and the externships.

Currently I am considering the French Pastry School in Chicago, the Professional Culinary Institute in California. Both of these options would require me to relocate. My first choice is FPS for its location, focus on pastry and it is highly recommended by the chefs I have spoken to. The PCI looks very interesting and I have a lot of family in San Jose and San Francisco, so that would be a big help, and i would love to study under Bo Friberg.

Of course cost is a factor. I have a B.A., so I already have student loans. And I've been working for the last four years so the idea of not working is very scary to me.

So, if anyone has insight into these schools or just advice, please let me know. I'm feeling pretty lost right now! Thanks!