I'm over 50, and career-changed this year to pastry, from medical writer. I work with a 23 year old, who was an electrical engineering graduate - we both just love pastry and food. One of the owners of the restaurant I have my first real job at (the others are a long story about the darker side of the food industry) told us that it only matters where you've worked, and who you know - not necessarily where you go to school Such a cynical answer, with a grain of truth. ;) I know the name of the restaurant I work at is worth far more than the actual eexperience!
Do you want to work only in pastry, or food in general?
If you really have the personality and obsessive compulsive tendancies ;) :D :D of a pastry chef, is there a way you could get to a pastry school? Chicago, New York, Virginia? The Women's chefs and restauranteurs gives a scholarship to the French Culinary Institute. Apprentice with a local great pastry chef??
I spent my savings to study with the only Master French Pastry chef in New England = and it's his good name that gets me interviews and my current position. The (very few!) culinary school people I've seen really haven't had very much pastry training, and little hands-on baking. I wonder is this is true across the board?
In any case, I love my job - when it hit 110 in the pastry kitchen, when we got swamped in Restaurant Week - I love it. This is the only job I've ever had where I'm willing to put up with the junk and still love what I do. I wish the same ( minus the inevitable idiots) to you!