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Wanting to become a pastry chef. Where to start?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone! 


For a long time now I've known I wanted to become a pastry chef after High school (Finished my junior year last week) and with senior year comes looking ahead to the future and college tours. I know many chefs who I've talked to are on either the side of going to culinary school and that's the best way of starting a career or on the other end, jumping into the field right of the bat by working in restaurants ect. I was wondering you opinion on this? I visited Kendall for a tour and to look into the culinary program and of course they stressed that a formal education was needed including business management/hospitality. Later in the day we toured the french pastry school and heard a somewhat different story. I got the opportunity to sit down with Jacquy Pfeiffer and Sebastien Canonne (a M.O.F.) and they both stressed more the culinary side and that a year with them is all I'd really need in order to go into the field and be successful, that starting at my age it's more important to have skill and training more then the business side of things, anf that if I wanted to open up my own place I could go back later for a business degree.  What I'm really asking is which opinion do you agree with and why? As well as do you feel a certificate from the french pastry school is better then a degree from JW or CIA ect? I assume having such prominent names attached to the certificate would help a lot.


Thanks for the time.  

post #2 of 6

Hi Matt I am a 27 year old pastry chef in the Indianapolis area.  I took a different path to end up where I am.  I went to a traditional college for a couple years and took some time off and then decided to go to culinary school.  I feel like real world experience is far more important than culinary school.  I double majored and really wish I didn't now that I look back on it.  I think a few business classes mixed in is helpful especially if you're good and get to move up in the industry quickly.  I would go with the route of less is more for now.  You can always go back for more schooling but can't get back your time spent in school if you aren't using what you learned.   I recently switched jobs and am in charge of my second kitchen now.  I moved up the ranks at the first kitchen I managed and started off top dog at the second kitchen.  I feel like I could have gotten by with just a certificate.  Not sure if that helps any or not but hope it does.  If you have anymore specific questions or anything at all feel free to ask me :)

post #3 of 6
Hi Matt 8 yrs ago I started an apprenticeship certified through the ACF. Which included some business classes. It included a 3 yr schedule of a mandatory amount of hours in many areas mostly hot food and minimal pastry and bakery. After my required 3 year tour I decided to revisit the pastry department. The chef that I was able to do a year apprenticeship with had never gone to or had a pastry certificate. Now being in his role I will agree with QueenB about the experience. As far as hiring someone I look at experience first and school second. I will always choose someone with experience over someone that went to school for 10 years.

Best of luck
post #4 of 6
Another upside of an apprenticeship the certification itself was and the program was about 2500$ a pose to some outrages numbers I've heard about culinary school. Most of these programs don't include the core classes to get an associates degree but normally partner with a collage so that everything is transferable as far as credits are concerned. That being said don't let me discourage you from going to school. The business side of things is very important but not needed right away.
post #5 of 6
Really both can be a path to success. Don't worry about the names, but what is a good fit for you. I went to pastry school and loved it, but it definitely isn't for everyone. I also had a previous degree in business which has been just as helpful in my success.
I labored over the same question when I was starting out, but I'm not sure it matters. If you are smart and motivated, you will reach your goal by either path.
post #6 of 6


I've gotten this question hundreds of times over the years. Many years! My general answer is usually the same. Either way is not going to be detrimental to your career. Both are avenu8es of learning. The important thing is flexibility. Don't get rutted in something.

Either way, as long as you get up in the morning and you are excited to begin your day, you'll advance. You're young, you have the rest of your life to work.

You are a young breath of fresh air.

Best wishes in whatever you choose!


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