I'm currently in the middle of what i'm going to do after i graduate, i have always been a home baker ever since i was a child. I love baking and pastries, and also having a sweet tooth is a given. I'm not looking to becoming a professional pastry chef but more of wanting to start a small cake shop someday. I have always been a curious individual and i find myself wanting to learn more. I'm not contented with just relying on baking books but i want to know what each ingredients play, how to tweak a recipe, and becoming more confident on myself. I'm thinking of going to San Francisco Baking Institute with their 6-months course program, but i'm also scared at the same time because i hear a lot of people saying studying in a pastry school is hard and is full of stress and i'm afraid that i might not like the environment and end up hating the one thing i love the most!
pastry school?I need advice!
ChefTalk.com Top Picks
I am a self-taught pastry chef, went to regular culinary classes during the day and stayed in the kitchen during night classes to learn pastry on my own. I took it one section and a time. The chef who taught italian cooking night classes allowed me to help him bake breads (no one else wanted to), From then on i baked breads for every night class, on my own this time. I got out of paying a lab fee ($500) and i never had to buy food during the week because they fed me in exchange for fresh bread at night. Then bought a few high-end books on pastry and bread (one being the book for the SF baking institute) and read them from cover to cover. Don't do like most students and skip right to the recipes, actaully READ the chapter. I mastered each component of those complex desserts to where i can identify them just by looking at them. Then i went on to playing with chocolate and sugar. I again stayed after class asked the chef can i make the desserts (being a Culinary school, everyone hated doing them). It didn't take me long at all. After about 2 years I was proficient enough to do showpieces, breads, and advanced plated desserts, with no formal training! I was a hungry student so to speak, I wanted to learn it all! I picked up ice carving, and advanced garde manger in my senior year both of which were not taught there. My advice take is take it one section at a time and they will build upon each other, "stretching and folding ciabatta bread is similar to sugar work? no way" ha ha. Show some initiative, ask the tough questions in class, be THAT guy/girl in class, let your chefs know you aren't just some "starry eyed, watched too many episodes of Top Chef" student. Show them you are serious! You may have been hated in school, but you are in a top pastry shop while your fellow alumni are putting premade fondant on frozen and thawed cakes at the local Supermarket. If they are worth anything they will take you under their wing, and show you things off the record and let you cook with them outside of the class (Private events, banquets etc). They may even set you up with some big wigs in the biz, and send you off for a summer. Chefs definitely play favorites!! While there is nothing wrong with sticking to cakes, get a feel for other things in the pastry world, you may find out you just LOVE confections, or bread (like me). The best test? That first cake decorating class, ask yourself, "can i do this and only this day in and day out?" If the answer is yes, you have found your passion and you should learn every single thing you can about it! In the pastry world, if you are good the recognition will come real fast. I have seen many chefs fake their way to executive chefs, but it doesn't work that way in the pastry world, the science won't allow you too. Either you can or you can't. As far as pastry school goes i have heard many of the same things. Pastry chefs are kind-of weird... mostly geeky guys, standoffish, perfectionists. I'm a bit more laid back not like these older guys "you must knead ze bread 465 times exactly!" No thats silly, that is what will discourage kids, focusing on the "science" of baking as opposed to the joys and passion is what turns most people off. Yes it is important, but some over emphasize it. Learn the purpose of each individual ingredient and you will be writing your own recipes in no time. These top chefs you see aren't perfect the first time they trial and error their recipes 20 times before they settle on the "ideal" version they had in their minds. Be prepared to get revelations at 2 a.m. about things you have had troubles that is where my best ideas come from ha ha. What books are you reading? Check out my album, i have a few pics of my library, pick up a few titles i have there and read them. Have any business experience? if not find a partner who has some. Even the best of the best still have to run a business well. Hope all of this helps you out.
Thank you so much Dobzre, yes it did helped me out! i did attend a 1 day workshop of making basic cakes before and I actually enjoyed it! the only problem was it was over before it even began! time flied by so fast, I only have a few books with me, although most of the time when i am in a library i would often check out pastry books with complicated stuffs, I haven't done any breads yet, my closest encounter to yeast is making cinnamon rolls and sticky buns. My cousin did showed me how to make a simple bread but i haven't made one on my own. Some of the books i have are Dorie Greenspan's baking from my home to yours, the cake book(forgot the author), cookie bible and chocolate(sorry i forgot the author as well). Just so you know, I'm not from the States so if i am gonna take the classes i would be a foreign student there. If it also helps for some reason my mind revolves mostly on pastries!whenever you see me thinking very deeply, that would only mean that i am thinking what i am going to bake next! and nothing beats the satisfaction the smiles you give to people when you bake a successful treat! as to the part of being a standout, i'm not really a standout kind of person i think, however i am a very curious person to some point sometimes my questions would seem simple?but i always wanted to understand things that is why i ask even the most simple questions. Well, my mom did say that i was a determined girl. Right now i'm still far along from making great selling quality cakes cause i have problems with textures. I am ambitious too! I attempted making French macarons, although 3x i failed:):) ahahaha! but i think i am improving and i don't mind getting back at that chapter once again, i also attempted puff pastry(i know, i wasn't exaggerating when i said i was ambitious) and i also failed 3x but i am about to give it another go. In terms of business experience, not really I did sell my baked goodies when i was 12, for some reason i don't know where all that guts went to. I think my problem is also more on the confidence and in a way i think that by having a proper education will help remove that. I'm sorry but since i am still new here how do i get to see your albums?:) i'm quite excited to see them! many thanks for your advice!
REALLY? REALLY? FOR REAL?
"Pastry chefs are kind-of weird... mostly geeky guys, standoffish, perfectionists. I'm a bit more laid back not like these older guys "you must knead ze bread 465 times exactly!" No thats silly, that is what will discourage kids, focusing on the "science" of baking as opposed to the joys and passion is what turns most people off".
"Then i went on to playing with chocolate and sugar"
"After about 2 years I was proficient enough to do showpieces, breads, and advanced plated desserts, with no formal train
you have learned everything in a couple of years
Edited by panini - 5/7/11 at 5:33am
I'm confused... Should I have told them the horrible things? And that they should give up their "pipe dreams" and become a doctor/lawyer? I enjoy what I do and I wouldn't discourage anyone from following in my foot steps. I saved lots of money this way as well. I consider a pastry chef and a cake decorator in two seperate schools of thought, "snoopy" being young and new to all of this I know for a fact that many do not end up in the the profession they desired to be before entering school. I am simply telling this person to learn everything involved and find out what they enjoy most. Since you reposted my quotes did you happen to come across this one
"While there is nothing wrong with sticking to cakes, get a feel for other things in the pastry world, you may find out you just LOVE confections, or bread (like me)"
or what about this one
" In that first cake decorating class, ask yourself, "can i do this and only this day in and day out?" If the answer is yes, you have found your passion and you should learn every single thing you can about it!"
Heres one of yours:
"I'm not so sure that the kids coming up can."
Snoopy mentions the SF Baking Institute, I know this school, their program is all inclusive. Why go there when their interest is only in cakes? Seems like a huge waste of money to me, when there are these Wilton folks around.
Don't worry I have no troubles seeking employment.
If you are in high school you are a kid.
Been in the business for a couple of years, you are a kid.
Snoopy does not want to be a pastry chef.
He or she wants to own something.
I TOLD YOU THIS WAS JUST MY OPINION but your advice seemed to be ME,ME,MEME,ME
Telling a young person the old farts preach science, not the joy...
Forget it, not worth my time. You'll understand once you age some in the industry.
Edited by panini - 5/7/11 at 5:34am