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Which Pastry School to choose??

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

Just join the forum recently, really happy to find so many of you of the same interest - kaing or doing pastry with me. I come from HK, 24 year old, graduated from a local University with Bachelor degree of Accountancy and currently working as an auditor, trying to save enough money to attend pastry school abroad. Hoping to turn my hobby into a real career. I know that being a professional pastry chef is kind of great difference with baking at home. Therefore, I try to get myself into the real working environment. I worked in a cake shop as a part time pastry chef, which give me a chance to feel and think deeply before I jumped into this career.
Originally, I thought of going to Le Cordon Bleu (Australia), since I don't speak french and the school required industry placement (which is good to people like me who have no previous experience in pastry, so that I can have something put down in my resume.)

However, after looking through this forum, I find other schools sound good too, really hard to decide which school to choose. I shortlisted the following schools.
1. Ferrandi - with internship (seems most of the people recommended this school)
2. ESNP - with internship ( like the french course it provided and also the accomodation arrangement)
3. Le Cordon Bleu - Paris/Australia
4. George Brown (the cost is the lowest among the four and with longest program, though need to study a range of unrelated course like english, maths, IT.)

Learning pastry in France sounds gorgeous (though I don't speak french, which is one of my concerns)
The followings are my concerns:
1. Cost - I think I can save around HK$ 300K for all the expenses (including the tuition, admin cost, living expenses etc.)
2. Apprenticeship
3. Accomodation - since I haven't study abraod before and I don't know how to drive, it will be great that the school can provide accomodation or I can rent houses near to the school)
4. Language - I don't speak french, but fluent in English and Mandarin.
5. Skills - I would like to learn from the basic, so that I can have a good foundation, to me, hands-on time and theory time are both important. Program of medium pace is most appreciated so that I can have enough time to practise or to understand.

I will continue to get more understanding of different schools before I make my final decision. I planned to quit my current job in late 2013 and probably would go to study in late 2013 or early 2014. Also, I would like to know the approximate monthly expense if I live in France.

Welcome all your comments and suggestions. Nice to meet all of you. =]
Edited by wingkiu - 1/6/13 at 2:38am
post #2 of 13

All my associates tell me for Pastry Arts  Its Johnson and Wales. over all of them. Many years ago it was same answer. They seem to excell in baking and pastry art.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
It seems that Johnson and Wales provide 2yr or 4yr program, seems a bit long for me
post #4 of 13

To be a great pastry chef is going to take many more years then 2 or 4, try 10 to 20 and you never stop learning.

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
I agree with you, however my saving not allow me to take a long course (more than one year )
post #6 of 13

i am a recent graduate of ferrandi


i cannot tell u how the other programs are because i have not attended them.


However alot of the students who did the pastry program at ferrandi ( i did the cuisine in sep 2012) have suggested they learnt alot and have been really happy about it. From what i can tell, after the ferrandi program, you will have done most if not all the typical pastries and cakes u can find in a local parisian pastry shop during the 5 mths u spend at school. In addition u also get french classes, wine classes, excursions to flour mills, dairy farms, markets etc which is included in the program cost.


Living expenses are a little dear. A studio will set you back 900 Eur/month if u live near the city centre or 500 eur per month if u are happy to share an apartment and rent out a room outside of city centre.


After 5 months of schooling you will then be placed into a pastry workshop for 6mths. If they accept you and give u a work contract between 3-6mths, you wil get around 400-450 eur per month during your stage here.


there are people that do not speak french but have gone into very successful pastry shops in paris. Kitchen french is important but not hard to learn. I have a french tutor that i pay 25 eur per hour whom i see 1x week to get my french skills up to scratch


I am currently paying $1200-1500 a month on food and housing in paris. If i really wanted to live on a budget, i think i can do it for 900- 1000 eur (incl accomodation)


hope this helps!

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your response, it is really helpful for me. Just a quick ask, since my budget is bit tight,I would like to know whether the internship is paid, around How much in average??
Btw, the wine Class sounds gorgeous!!
post #8 of 13

I'm really interested in the culinary section of Ferrandi...but $25k for 5 months is ridiculous! 

post #9 of 13
Hi Wingking, any progress in choosing the schools? I am also looking for a school and trying to start the term from Aug 2013.
post #10 of 13

Actually, if you're into pastry, Lenotre Ecole Professionelle is one of the best pastry school in the world (arguably the best). Not as well known around the world as LCB though. I am a graduate of LCB Paris in the pastry and cuisine program(not lcb in the states, which are shit) and I still think lenotre is better. That being said, going to France for an Apprenticeship and not knowing French puts you on a very very big disadvantage. Not only is there a language barrier, they treat non-french speaking people like shit (on top of already being treated like shit as an apprentice). In school they treat you nicely since you are paying a large amount as a customer.


I recommend that if you want to go to France for culinary school, learn french while you are at it. The French treat non-french speaking people really bad and it's even worst if you're an apprentice. Unless you are REALLY REALLY lucky.


Judging from your history, going into this industry, you will need a lot of will and passion, and I mean A LOT of it. Working with "real" professional pastry chefs, or chefs in general, is not a pleasant experience. You will be told that you should give up, you are worst than a monkey working at mcdonald's, you can't do your job right, you should think about a new career, etc. Unless you have lots of money to blow and don't mind breaking even for the first year or two, I do not recommend making this leap of faith.


Plan to spend AT LEAST 1000 euros a month if you want to live in France.


Try to stay away from lcb australia, they are more specialized in management than culinary. And aussy chefs are assholes... (no offence to chefs across australia but you do have this reputation)


PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE think it through before you change career as it is an extremely different environment to work in a professional kitchen than an office. 


I'm not trying to discourage you, I just don't want you to regret your decision and lose tens of thousands of dollars doing it. 


Here is an article by Anthony Bourdain on people who want to become chefs


Just to add, Lenotre only lectures in french.

Edited by Timmy Wu - 6/11/13 at 7:01pm
post #11 of 13
post #12 of 13

If you want to get your red seal certification journeyman papers for baking -a community college is your best bet for diversity and for least expensive tuition. Most baking whether private or in retail commercial is now been streamlined-in BC Canada most of my baker journey man partners and I approve Vancouver community college in Vancouver BC mainland check them out-if you can get a job with a private bakery or even a commercial bakery for hours you can challenge the course after certain amount of hours under a certified journeyman/journey woman . I hope this helps you.
post #13 of 13
I will be attending George brown College in Sept, culinary management program...
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