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In dire need of help - Beginners questions

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hi, I have only just discovered this website but have long since been an avid foodie and aspiring chef. I have many questions that I would like to have answered, please, if possible.


I know that you will tell me that the hours are long, you are on your feet all day, your back will ache and you never get Christmas off. Those are the perks of the job, I guess, and if I had an issue with those then I wouldn’t be pursuing a career with food. The questions I ask may seem obvious or petty but I really would like to know everything.


I love to cook deserts and bake all things sweet and savoury which made me look down the path of becoming a pastry chef. But, what I want to ask you all is – can you do a commercial cookery apprenticeship and then steer yourself in the direction of pastry? Or is it necessary to do an apprenticeship as a pastry cook?


I have big dreams; like I’m sure you all do, of one day opening my own café/restaurant/patisserie. Can a pastry chef, open and own a restaurant?


I live in a city in Northern Queensland (Australia) where there isn’t really any way of following the pastry path. So, in your opinions where in Australia would be best to try and find an apprenticeship? Is Australia really the best place for me to train or would I be better off moving overseas and gaining the qualification? I also considered joining the navy and getting the qualification that way.


My second dilemma is culinary schools vs. apprenticeships. I would love to attend a culinary school (if it weren’t for the fees that are attached) – when you “graduate” from such a school are you qualified to work as a cook or is there a requirement to further that education with an apprenticeship? Also, does attending a culinary school better educate their students compared to someone who completed an apprenticeship?


I know that it is rare but I’d love to make a name for myself. I am willing to put in the hard yards and work for years on end to do so. I am passionate about food and cooking is the best pick me up there is. All I want is to be able to put my creativity onto a plate. Thanks so much in advance. I would really appreciate any answers that you can give me. smile.gif

post #2 of 4

There are a lot of questions here with no quick answers. A lot depends on your specific situation - age, experience, money, goals. I was a career changer at 40 with a good amount of money saved up, so I went to the best pastry school I could find and don't regret it for a second. Aside from learning proper and efficient technique, I got introductions and recommendations for some amazing jobs that would have been difficult to enter on my own. But if you're young, it may be much more cost effective to work your way up.


If you haven't already, I would go read "The Making of a Pastry Chef" by Andrew MacLauchlan. (you can get it from Amazon, or here it is on an Australian store: )


I would also take a look at "On the Line" by Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin in New York for an inside look at running and working at a high-end fine dining restaurant, both savory and pastry. 


I don't know anything, really about the pastry business in Australia, but this is pastry shop down there who's blog I follow:

post #3 of 4

I'm not all so sure you'll get any big epiphany from reading anything written by a historical master chef, nor is it very realistic to look at other celebrity chefs and think that it's all that possible to follow them. YES, it's absolutely possible, and reading is fundamental, also entertainingly enjoyable. That said, an example of a pastry chef making it big is Elizabeth Falkner. She's been on Iron Chef, might just be the Next Iron Chef, and has been on other TV shows. She is the Chef/partner of two Michelin recommended restaurants in San Francisco. Her Citizen Cake and Ice Cream Parlor in Pacific Heights, along with the popular SOMA restaurant bar and lounge Orson. Once known as the go-to for all things pastry, her expertise is now widely acknowledged to span both savory and pastry. Anyway, yeah, pastry chefs can make it big. 


Now as for culinary schools ... well ... I went to one, and I've got great skills (in my own mind anyway). I don't however, have a solid culinary job. The market where I live (Chicagoland) is full of people with all kinds of skills. The bottom line however, is there are so many more people that can do the jobs than jobs available; $8-$10 /hr. are the most common, $12 /hr. are sweet, but very few and far between. I'm way past being a young kid, and I'm not so much ready/able to work like I was. I'm not at all telling you not to do what you like and follow your dreams. Just to do it with your eyes open. 


Here, check these out: 


Home | Community Colleges Australia

Community Colleges in Australia |

Australian Community Colleges |


See what they can do for you. It can't hurt right? You might just get really happy. Good luck. 


"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.


"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thanks nightscotsman. I'll be on the look out for those books at the book shop. And I also follow Darren Purchese and Ian Burch - they are phenomenal!

I am 18 years old, have been working in a kitchen but mainly with plating, not much prep work. Have also done some events work but I wouldn't really call that experience.


Thanks iceman. My question with the schools is - are they really worth the amount of money that you pay for them? I am constantly told that all you do is watch chefs cook, peel vegetables and clean the floors, etc. In Australia, we are in a skills shortage, with no lack of chefing jobs, so I'm not so sure that would be a problem. :)



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