I recently completed Summer French Pastry International Program in ENSP, Yssingeaux on Aug 2015. To wrap up my experience in ENSP, here is my personal comments with regards to the Summer Pastry Program!
The question is.. Would I recommend ENSP? Well that depends..
Value for Money – Not cheap but it is a cheaper option if you want to study French Pastry in France aside from Paris.
Chefs quality – All Chefs are definitely has the right skills sets to teach the students. However, it will not be a good learning experience if they cannot speak English (which happened to us for the two weeks of bakery and petit four).
Lab/Equipment quality – Total of 9 labs, some labs are nicer than others. All station has individual mixer and bowls, big machines like sheeter, ice cream machines and ovens are shared. The unfortunate thing is that there’s only 2 big ovens per lab, which means students are not responsible to bake and watch over the ovens which are part of critical skill to learn in baking
Evaluation Criteria & Standards – Level 1 was given feedback by the Chef weekly based in quality of product, timing, kitchen hygiene and team work. However, each Chef evaluates differently and there’s no standards nor formal criteria in admission for Level 1 nor 2.
Class Schedule – Changes all the time! We are mostly scheduled to have morning lab session (6-1pm) and a few afternoon session (2-8pm).
School’s Location – Yssingeaux is 2 hours from Lyon by car and there’s no train station. The closest train station is retournac (20min by taxi of 25euro) and if you want to travel far, 1pm train is what you need to catch which was impossible as pastry students. Overall, we managed to get out with the help if BlaBlaCar rides and if you enjoy the small town and country aide, Yssingeaux is not too bad. It has 5 supermarkets, a few restaurants and 2 bars to hang out.
Internship Support from School – Mostly rely on students to find and school can support the paper work.
– Day to day support from Admin Staff – School has limited staff (Mainly 2) to support the all students. Nevertheless they are extremely nice and supportive.
School’s Accomodation – Nice and clean. I enjoyed my single room, similar to a hotel room. Lunch was great with good varieties throughout the weeks. A well balance meal for the most part.
Pastry Curriculum Delivery – For the most part, the school delivered what was expected. Culinary design was missed and demos were not provided after we reminded them until last minute. If you want to get everything the school has promised, make sure you remind them on what you are expecting.
Recommendations – After you read my above points (good and bad, up to your interpretation), if you still want to go and be there with an open mind and heart, you will enjoy your experience.