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should i switch my major to pastry before attending to CIA? should i go at all?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

hello all. currently im a senior and culinary student at a vocational high school in the suburbs of new york city. i have also Applied to CIA as a culinary major. but im having some second thoughts.


before attending this school my main hobby was baking, candy making, etc. however last year's curriculum was more about culinary, so i practiced that more, im one of the top students in my class, and i DO love to cook. however i also like to bake, and to be honest i would rather work in baking and pastry. my problem is i have little practice with baking (this year's curriculum is more pastry oriented so thats good at least) i used to bake all the time but since i have been cooking a lot i haven't really had much time. i plan on trying to find a job or internship in a bakery in the next few months, as to get a realistic feel and see if this is what i want to do or not. 


Is school at all worth it for pastry? i know there is a debate about this in general, i have decided if i become a cook i want to go to CIA. also can anyone give me a comparison as to quality of life between culinary and pastry.


additionally, its been a childhood dream of mine as long as i can remember, but i have always wanted to be a chocolatier. realistically is this possible? does it even exist as a trade anymore, i mean besides a very few famous examples (Jacques Torres). 


also im in commuting distance to NYC (bout 30 minutes by train), but i have also thought about moving to europe, cities im interested include: Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam, Milan, Zurich or Geneva.  does anyone know of how pay is there for the culinary trade as compared to cost of living. i expect to have around 31k in savings to work with after high school. what about skipping school all together and somehow finding an apprenticeship abroad?


thank you so much for reading and answering.

post #2 of 7

Lots of questions.

Here are my 2 cents.

The costs that come with a slog thru culinary school are astronomical.

Go do your internship and work a job in the industry (and travel to Europe if you need that experience to decide) before writing that check.

If your path stays true to your goals then you will have your answer.

This part is for your mom....DO continue your education by taking a class here or there ( start with your 101s)

Collect those hours like gold and glue them together every once in a while and see where you stand in relation to some sort of degree.

The last thing you need is to try to switch over to a mainstream job in corporate America and have a blank space where your higher education history belongs.

The plus is you won't have to drag a huge student loan around your neck until you are 40 as you will pay as you go.




Good luck and keep in touch!

Edited by flipflopgirl - 11/22/13 at 4:12am
post #3 of 7

Mimi gave you some excellent advice. I also think your idea of finding an internship in the next few months is a good plan. I would say to put enrollment in culinary school off for a year or two.


Work in the industry. Work in the industry while traveling in Europe even better. Two years will fly by and then you can decide about whether or not to enroll in culinary school. 20 years old is certainly not too late to make that decision and by then it will be an even more informed one.


Your forethought is refreshing and to be applauded. It speaks volumes about you.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

thanks so much guys.  ive learned that through my family heritage i can possibly become  a dual citizen with italy which would also grant me EU citizenship and will allow me to live and work anywhere in the EU indefinitely and avoid all the pesky visas. 


i think im going to put off culinary school for a few years and just explore my options, maybe i will travel this summer. and once school is over i plan on working full time anyway.


60k in debt... geez the more i think about it the more it makes me scared as hell. its like an anchor around my leg for the next 20+ years. i feel as though i have far more practical options to gain experience. feel as though using the money i have to travel and  support myself  financially through interships is a far better way to use the money .



from what i have been reading, chocolatiers are rare in america, and can be more easily found in Europe, where most are taught through working and apprenticing. still the internet is very short on resources related to this specific field, so i would appreciate anything anyone can offer me on the subject. i very very much would love to at least experience this field. i rarely get to work with chocolate in school, although i believe i will be having a chocolate unit in my curriculum this year, still thats only a few weeks of learning about chocolate. 

Edited by chchris96 - 11/21/13 at 4:49pm
post #5 of 7

just another side to the coin from a current Pastry student:


Pastry is nothing like cooking. it is more fine in its system, you can't- like cooking- throw a few things in a pan and create a meal, in pastry recipes are called formulas and for good reason.

i would recommend thinking long and hard where you see yourself in 5 years, is it as a line cook or in the bakeshop?


about school: I go to Johnson & Wales and it is possible to double major in both culinary and pastry, i can't imagine it's not at the CIA.

also depending on your future plans you may find that studying at a certificate school will be just as good as a culinary school. i went to JWU because i am interested in opening my own place some day so the education i get works for me. had this not been the case i would have probably gone to French Culinary Institute in NYC, or just do two years at jwu instead of all 4.

also i am not sure what exactly you are taught at school right now but it is possible that that will be enough basic knowledge to get a starting position.


regarding costs: yea culinary school is expensive!! (and i'm not even adding living expenses) however! scholarships do exist, you just need to work for them. and if you come from a home with lower income you may be eligible for more gov subsidized scholarships (fafsa, but i know little about it as i am an international student).


if you are interested in working with chocolate i recommend- once you graduate- to start knocking on doors and see if you can get any kind of job at an artisan chocolate shop. NYC has some of the best chocolatiers in the US and the world. and start reading books about the science of chocolate, how to use and so on. amazon has many books that will be useful to you.



good luck.

from one hopeful future chocolatier to another :-D

post #6 of 7

actually, my advice is simple.

I always say, when in doubt, don't do it.

trust your gut feelings.

in the end you will at least feel better about yourself because you made your own decisions.

be true to yourself.


and….good luck!!!!!!

post #7 of 7

There is already a lot of good advice here, so I am only commenting on the part of your post related to chocolatiers in America.  I know there aren't a lot, but I do work with one in Las Vegas.  Several of the nicer resorts here have a full time chocolatier, but that still doesn't equal more than a handful.  However, there are quite a few chocolate sculptures done throughout the year and daily bonbon and confections produced.  I am a restaurant pastry chef, but I work with the chocolatier anytime I want his team to produce decor for a dessert I am planning.  This gives me the freedom to use more advanced chocolate work in desserts than I could if I were having to produce them myself.  They probably have a staff of 7 or 8 people doing chocolate full time, an enrober, 3 tempering machines and hopefully someday, a 3-d chocolate printer.

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