... that is my question.
So, all of you seasoned pastry chefs, I need some advice. I have worked in health policy/health care my entire career (about 17 years) and I now hate it. I'm burnt out and day dream about being a pastry chef with my dream job working in a tea room doing pastry and being a tea sommelier. I'm a great home baker and know a lot about tea but need some straight up advice on whether or not to quite my policy gig and pursue pastry. I have the following questions:
1) Culinary School: I have heard both yes and no on this. Some I've asked have said don't bother and start by getting experience in a bakery or restaurant others I've asked and read on other blogs have said its beneficial. I've looked into the culinary schools in my area and it is quite expensive. I could probably swing tuition but I'm wondering if its worth going into debt or just get experience instead.
2) Salary and Benefits: I make a decent salary now (around 65K) and I want to follow my passion for pastry but I'm worried about the difference in salary. I've read the hours and salary can be low and that there is no health insurance for most bakers/pastry folk. Is there really no health insurance or 401Ks for chefs?
3) Hours: I've also read/heard that the hours can be murder. I'm used to working really hard now (probably average about 55 hours a week) but I'm wondering what the typical hours are.
4) Bakery, Restaurant, Bakery in a Grocery Store?: Where is the best place to start to maximize the best hours, salary, etc...
Thanks all for any and all advice!