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experience vs. studyingpost #2 of 73/4/14 at 1:25pm
There is no way possible for a chef to teach you everything you need to know in one year OF EITHER. We have to operate a business on top of teaching and sometimes its just not feasible to teach you everything you need to know and keep labor costs down. With that said IT IS feasible to dedicate more of YOUR time to learn everything by working for free *ahem* internship. I had a young man who would gladly clock out and stay on until I finished my duties (thats a liability issue btw so some may say no), and I would give him all the "book knowledge" for 30-45 minutes after we closed down for the day. I'm coming from a culinary school first then on the job background, so I prefer this method. You get kids in who have a basic understanding of 60% of whats going on (but their work ethic sucks) vs "I have trouble washing dishes" types whom you usually pair up with other interns who can show them knife work, coordination, finer details. In an ideal world I'd like to run my kitchen like a culinary lab in which we have required reading, practicals, lessons, demonstrations etc. SO to answer your question, no, those two are no where near equivalent. In a pastry kitchen with no experience you will mostly likely be relegated to topping strawberries, picking herbs, shaping rolls, and other mindless, headphones in the ears, tasks. In the pastry lab you will learn all manner of cool stuff but be completely useless to an employer because you lack the experience to reproduce lab results on a consistent basis. My best workers were the ones that came in oblivious to the kitchen or had no formal training and one eventually surpassed the culinary school grads, and I made him my sous, why? He listened, he wasn't arrogant flaunting his $50,000 degree, and could follow a recipe without saying "we didn't do it this way in school!" Try a hybrid of the two like I did, work and study on your own or school and work at the local bakery. Please no boxed mixes, and ready made doughs, those people are robots not bakers.post #3 of 73/5/14 at 1:48am
you don't need to take a pastry course first but it helps to have a basic understanding.
if you are driven all the rest can be learned at your work place.
aside from that, study on your own at home, too, read books and try things.
develop your own style meanwhile.
try to figure out why things are done this way or that way, it helps to understand things better.
thats how I work.
so I encourage you to just try and get a place that is willing to take you on!!!post #4 of 73/5/14 at 4:06ampost #5 of 73/5/14 at 2:08pm
You need both.
Most--if not all bakeries are production based. You might be panning bread or docking bases for hours on end and not know about the whole procedure. Hotels are usually banquet based, so you might be piping out 500 choc mousses or garnishing an 800 plate dinner.
If you are lucky or have the personality of Jesus, you might get a Chef who will take you under his/her wing and explain things: Why one sweet dough needs powdered sugar and another only granulated, why you should never tour puff pastry less than 1cm thick, why some pastry creams use corn starch, some only yolks, and some flour, why you add corn syrup to sugar syrups, why mixing and resting times are so important for doughs. Why, why, why. What happens if you do this, what happens if the humidity that day goes up or down, what happens if you change brands of flour.
If you're lucky.....
But what if you aren't?
You can study books--and there are some very good ones, C.I.A. has some excellent ones-, you can watch you-tube, and there are some very good clips, but you can't ask questions, and you can't get your hands dirty and interact with someone who has done the technique a zillion times before. This is a HUGE difference.
Experience... there is no substitute. You need to repeat and repeat the technique until it becomes second nature and you have muscle memory for that technique. You need to anticipate problems with a particular technique, anticipate avoiding them, and anticipate recovering from mistakes when they happen. This is experience. Schools very rarely teach this.
Right now, get as much experience as you can, don't stop reading, don't stop asking questions, and see if you can get into culinary school or community college while still working.
If you have "0" working experience before attending culinary school and don't work during school, upon graduating, you will still have "0" working experience. Name of the school, name of the instructor, scores or awards achieved won't change this. This fact is not lost on any employer, they want the experience.
Hope this helps...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be".........."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......post #6 of 73/9/14 at 7:53pm
@the bakeress I really think it depends on a few factors much of which has been stated already but here is my two cents.
- What type of bakery? Mom and pop, classical french, high volume?
- How much is the owner a teacher?
- How disciplined are you?
If you are an extremely disciplined person and devote yourself to studying you can. I would also recommend that you could take one or two classes not a whole year of pastry classes. See what you learn. School seems like an easy way to learn but on the job is some of the best in my opinion. What school will never teach you is if you like the work and are cut out for it.Thanks,
ChefTalk.com Founderpost #7 of 73/15/14 at 11:32pm
You just have to fit short courses on different techniques around your work, depending on where you go i would say it's half and half studying and work experience, if you have apprenticeships where you are would be benefit from those more after a basic course as your getting paid and get progress quicker than staying in college, in college you have to try and cram paper work and assessments in with your cooking and it's not easy at all and my writing was a mess i had to rush it that fast after we got done cooking and washing the pots (sadly there is no kitchen porter during courses, your a porter and a cook).
It was honestly too much to handle for one person when i did it but i got through it just about, never again though (although i will 1 day a week when i get into an apprenticeship), but in restaurants they have kitchen porters that wash your pots, all you have to do is keep your knives, chopping boards and work area tidy while cooking :). If you don't have apprenticeships in your country though id say most of it is studying which then takes a lot longer, i honestly can't study for that long id rather learn on the job.
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