Go To Pastry/culinary School Or Not?

Business By deecie Updated 24 Aug 2008 , 5:27pm by ncdessertdiva

deecie Posted 21 Aug 2008 , 5:29pm
post #1 of 18

I have a question/advice/poll....I am undecided whether I should enroll in a Culinary School in their Pastry Program(I live in San Francisco Bay Area) or just keep practicing and practicing and open up my business without having the pastry degree? I would love to hear from everyone!
Especially those who have their own business!

17 replies
jules1719 Posted 21 Aug 2008 , 6:14pm
post #2 of 18

I didn't go to culinary school, and I won't advocate not going per se, but what do you hope to achieve? Really spend some time answering this question. I learned everything I needed to know by working in the best places possible. I own a business. Sometimes I think it's better that I focused so intently on what I do, rather than busting myself for the broader education.

Culinary school will get you 3-4 years of proper training in a controlled environment. That is all, no more, no less. Motivation alone is worth the same.

There are culinary graduates who are great at their jobs, and some who are not so great.

So what do you hope to achieve?

amy2197 Posted 21 Aug 2008 , 9:03pm
post #3 of 18

I went to culinary school. Le Cordon Bleu Baking and Patisserie arts to be exact. To be honest. sure, i learned procedures, but i have learned way more on my own and thru cc than in school. It is really expensive and you spend valuable time that you could be running your own business.

Mike1394 Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 4:27am
post #4 of 18

It depends on whatyou want to do. If you want to just decorate cakes, then no don't go. It will be a waste of money. If you want to learn how to bake a cake then certainly go. I think you can skip school for a culinary degree. I don't think you can skip it for a pastry degree. There is alot that goes on in an oven while baking that is hard to learn on your own. Now if you want to try to learn it on your own, there are some very good books that will teach technique. I think the Wayne Gisselen baking book is wonderful on technique. It has some very horrible tasting dough recipes. His sauces and bread recipes are good, but all other I don't think taste that great. There are some books out there like this.

Now finding a mentor in the industry???? That is a route many have taken, and it has paid off well. Finding a mentor that will teach you, and is knowledgable is very tough.

Mike

HerBoudoir Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 4:46am
post #5 of 18

The other thing to remember is that culinary school is not just all cooking classes. There are loads of business classes as well, dealing with accounting, cost control, marketing, etc.

I'm about 36 credits from graduating with a bachelors in hotel and restaurant management (I have my AAS). I know for me, those hospitality-focused business-oriented classes have been invaluable.

BakingJeannie Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 1:47pm
post #6 of 18

Deecie,

It depends on how passionate you are about baking. If you really love to master the science of what goes on during the process on putting together a pretty cake...go for it! If it's mostly about decorating...take a few classes at the community school or from other well known decorators. In my baking and cake decorating class we had a student from a well known culinary school in Ft. Lauderdale, FL doing the cake decorating because ton of stuff he would not get taught in school.

In high school I majored in Food and Nutrition in addition to taking subjects like chemistry and biology and it balanced my cooking and baking skills. Since I have a little artist in me, I am getting better at decorating.

With my high school education, and tons of books, videos and skills classes plus my management accounting and administrative diplomas, I feel like a well rounded culinary graduate icon_lol.gif

"In the multitude of counsel there is wisdom and safety"

Cheers!

Jeannie

sugarcheryl Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 4:21pm
post #7 of 18

I agree with Jules1719 and Mike1394 I went to pastry school I wanted to know about baking. Cake decorating you can learn on your own. I will say even though I'm self taught when it comes to cake deco going to school gave me better understanding. But to be hones if you are interested in just cake decorating save your money or put your money in going to a couple of classes for decorating and buy books and CCC is such a great resource. But it is about what you want to do? icon_smile.gif

KoryAK Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 4:41pm
post #8 of 18

Decorating is an art and baking is a science. You can learn a lot about baking in school, the artsy stuff you just have to put your hands on. I went to CCA there in San Fran and LOVED it - so if you want to be a pastry chef I def recommend it.

deecie Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 4:48pm
post #9 of 18

Thanks everyone!!

I start a Pastry & Confection course at my local community college in 2 weeks. While researching I found that the college has a hospitality mangement program and they offer 2 semesters of Pastry & Confections courses with an emphasis on cake decorating and chocolates!!!! EXACTLY what I wanted and for only $160.00 IM IN!!!!!....I really dont want to spend all that $$$ to go to a culinary school and then learn all this stuff about breads and pies, etc. My focus is cakes, cookie decorating and chocolates...so I am thrilled I found this course at the community college.
Plus, I have learned alot just practicing on my own and trial and error And since I discovered CCC I have learned SOOOO much more!

thanks for everyones input....I appreciate it!!!!

deecie Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 4:48pm
post #10 of 18

Thanks everyone!!

I start a Pastry & Confection course at my local community college in 2 weeks. While researching I found that the college has a hospitality mangement program and they offer 2 semesters of Pastry & Confections courses with an emphasis on cake decorating and chocolates!!!! EXACTLY what I wanted and for only $160.00 IM IN!!!!!....I really dont want to spend all that $$$ to go to a culinary school and then learn all this stuff about breads and pies, etc. My focus is cakes, cookie decorating and chocolates...so I am thrilled I found this course at the community college.
Plus, I have learned alot just practicing on my own and trial and error And since I discovered CCC I have learned SOOOO much more!

thanks for everyones input....I appreciate it!!!!

adonisthegreek1 Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 4:53pm
post #11 of 18

My goal is to be a pastry chef and I am in a two year program. There are also certificate programs. I want to learn the business and accounting side, as well as mass production baking, the science of cooking, etc. School is the right choice for me. It all depends on what you really want to learn.

aimers Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 4:56pm
post #12 of 18

I attended the CCA in San Francisco for Baking and Pastry prior to it becoming a CB school. I had a blast but it was expenses and I have learned more on my own through Private classes, this web site, TV, and great mentors than I ever did in school. It really depends on what you want to do... If you want to bake bread I would say go to the school, it will give you an idea of production and technique. But if you just want to bake and decorate cakes I would say take some local classes for the basics and then find someone to study under, even if you do it for free you will still save money from not going to the school. Or take the money you would spend and fly to France and learn how to make pastries.

mysonshines Posted 23 Aug 2008 , 1:02am
post #13 of 18

Thank you for asking this (and all who answered too). I've been wondering along the same lines (though not culinary school). I've already got a master's degree in counseling, have had enough formal "school", am 40 years old and have 4 young kids. I'm not going to culinary school, even if I wanted to. icon_lol.gif I do want to improve my cake baking and decorating though- maybe enough to boost me into putting more time and effort into this little side job and into a real business. I like the idea of a mentor- now, where to find one icon_confused.gif

playingwithsugar Posted 23 Aug 2008 , 1:11am
post #14 of 18

Some culinary schools offer avocational courses, like ICE in NYC does. They offer several avo courses in cake deco, a few for chocolate, pastry, and pulled sugar.

I would suggest that if anyone wants to go back to school to hone their skills, they check into avocational courses. They're far less expensive and time consuming, and focus on the subject of the course.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

lilthorner Posted 23 Aug 2008 , 2:18am
post #15 of 18

deecie, I currently attend DVC for baking and pastry (well my class starts 9/2). this is my second semester.. I looked into CCA and CIA.. I really wanted to attend CIA but the cost isn't comparable.. I'm sure the education isn't either though. I had a friend that graduated from CCA and he suggested to go to the city college.. apparently CCA has been bought/sold a couple of times and i hear that there are some students with a class action of some sort.. based on them feeling like they were rushed out.. I dont know if it was resolved or actually how long ago it was..

did u enroll in DVC or contra costa or where?

paddlegirl14 Posted 23 Aug 2008 , 3:13am
post #16 of 18

I have a BS in Hospitality Admin. and I am planning to go to Le courden Bleu in Austin, TX. I learned lots in college, but very little baking.

lilthorner Posted 23 Aug 2008 , 6:33am
post #17 of 18

my chef says that you learn the fundamentals in school. I am constantly asking a gazillion questions buying/checking out books, searching the net..

ncdessertdiva Posted 24 Aug 2008 , 5:27pm
post #18 of 18

I just started a two course in Culinary Technology at one of our community colleges. I will be learning so much about all types of food and the culinary arts!! Our program offers two certificate programs as well as an associate degree, which is what I am going after. The concentration is hands-on production - making meals for 100 people in our first semester which will translate well to the catering or hospitality industry. We will have three baking and pastry courses starting next semester. I think when I leave from there, I will have a well-rounded education and be able to pursue my dream of a career in baking and pastry.
Community colleges and local bakeries are good resources for cake decorating courses, as well. Good luck in whatever route you decide on!
Leslie

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