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Hi AmyM!

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!
 

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Yep, the little things that drive my husband crazy - like turning all the knives in the knife rack toward the back - turn out to be useful. A pastry cook can't just turn up the heat on the genoise to get it done quicker, like a line cook can with some things. So organization and perparation, become key.

I now work at one of the oldest French restaurants in Boston: Maison Robert (house o' bob, en Anglais) a place with a stellar reputation from days gone by - a wonderful name for the resume, though! There are always culinary students in the kitchen - this summer from the Western Culinary Institute and Purdue University (?! a talented young woman) and the fact that they are in school doesn't seem to be impressive. Lack of arrogance and cooking skills are more so.

Do you have a clue about wanting to work in a restaurant, or hotel, or caterer? It USED to be (I've heard tell) that anyone willing to do the grunt work for $10/hr. could find a job in a pastry kitchen - where you could find out very quickly if this work makes you happy.
 

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Thanks Kat - actually, I'm NOT doing wonderful stuff, and we could laugh about the stuff the restaurant does turn out. Pate glace brun 1/2" thick to cover a cake, because the pastry chef can't handle ganache?

The pastry chef is the ex- line cook intern from Johnson and Wales, the one who can't bake cake OR genois. Serving stuff that looks as bad as it tastes was not what I had in mind.

So, I've decided to offer to make a few desserts on my own time - and they'll taste good - and the chef will take the credit, and tell management that I am a poor worker :p --but only in the short term, I hope!

In teh meantime, it's a great name to have on my resume. A lot of chefs used to work ;) ;) at MR!
 
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