I'm posting in this forum, b/c it seems to be the most appropriate one. If not, please let me know.
I have been going back and forth for 2+ years about working in the baking industry. Particularly cake. I've been baking for years. I've weighed the pros and cons (those that I know of anyhow) for sometime. After a friend and I signed up for Wilton decorating classes to make our own cakes more professional, my inclination is leaning towards obsession. My mother legally baked cakes as a source of income for a few years, so I am aware that it isn't all fun and games, can consist of challenges, mistakes and alot of work. So I am trying to remain realistic, knowing that working in this industry wouldn't always be easy and I wouldn't end up on an episode of "The lives of the rich and famous"
My primary plan of action is to practice, practice and then practice. I bake for friends, sometimes for free, others insist on paying, but I have no plans to make a living working or marketing out of my house, since I cannot in my state. The Wilton classes will provide good basics, but I want to continue beyond that. Culinary school isn't an option really.
Moving forward I plan on:
1) Completing the classes, continue to build on basic skills at least a couple evenings a week.
2) *"Master" specialized techniques in the process, making cakes for practice. I can always bring cakes to work (my co-workers are like parana).
3) After I get comfortable with a particular skill, move forward on the next challenge on my list.
4) Read (some books recommended here), follow CC, dvd's, tutorials.
*(I'm a perfectionist, so I know I'll never actually "master" anything, but hope to reach a high standard)
After several months (or a year or more), I'll look at where I stand and do a great deal of research before moving forward with a business plan.
My questions are:
1)Is there any advice on a lesson plan or order of what techiniques/skills I should concentrate on?
2) Should I consider working a day or so a week with a pastry chef or decorator? Time is precious, but love being in a professional kitchen. I have a few friends in the culinary field and might be able to put some feelers out there.
Sorry for the obscenely long post, but wanted to think through my short and long term goals before posting. Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated.
Sorry I can't help you with your questions but wanted to welcome you to CC. You will find many helpful people on here and I know your questions will be answered.
Working in a bakery will teach you a few extremely valuable skills. The first skill you will learn is speed. The second skill you will learn is speed, and the third skill you will learn is speed.
After that, just know that trends change. Even when I started 10 years ago, piped designs were the norm and there was always an outside border. Today, design is more streamlined and there are no outside borders. Fondant is steadily gaining a foothold. That's just to say that you have to look at magazines and see what's being shown bythe high end cake designers and figure out how you interpret it.
I jumped into the biz 3 weeks after I graduated from culinary school. I had to make a living out of this cake thing. It's worked out.
You can practice and practice, but perfection is never going to happen and if you really expect it, you will become frustrated. We work in food, not plaster or concrete, so things do go wrong. The biggest skill to develop is how to recover from the crap that happens.
Buy the best tools you can afford. Have fun. That's all I've got.
Thanks Leah for the great tips. After doing some practice cakes and thinking to myself "wow, this or that looks hideous", someone would come along and say "wow, this or that looks amazing". I'm too hard on myself, so I agree, aiming for perfection would drive me nuts in the end.
And having fun, especially in the learning phase, is what I should concentrate on as well as.....well...learning.