I have wanted to go to Culinary Art School for the past 12 years and something has either come up or I've not been in the right place in life to do so. Now I am. I guess I am posting for advice from anyone who OWNS a cake business. Did you go to \\ Culinary Art School for Baking & Patisserie? Did you find it beneficial at all? I know that it will be beneficial, learning skills I lack, etc. What are your thoughts on it?
Thanks for any advice. :]
As someone who "always wanted to go to culinary school", I can say I went, I loved it, I learned a lot and don't regret it one bit. However, you have to go into it knowing the limitations of what it offers. Every school is different but in general, you're going to be in the program for a short period of time and be exposed to a lot of different aspects of baking and pastry and you will be no means come out with all of the skill you'll need to be successful.
It's like any other profession, you'll learn by doing--NOT really by the schooling. We did cakes for a week, breads for a week, candy for a week, etc. You'll get to do different techniques and you may develop a sense of which aspects you like more than others. Several students in my class came in just "knowing" they were going to make artisan breads and then realized they hated the repetitive nature of it and others that "knew" they wanted to be cake decorators but fell in love with candy making.
If you've always wanted to go, go and you won't regret it. If you're going because you think you'll graduate and instantly be a pastry chef, prepare for disappointment. If you're going because you think you'll learn how to run a business, prepare to be VERY disappointed.
My wife went to the Professional Culinary Institute in Campbell, CA (now the French Culinary Institute) and completed the baking & pastry program. She definitely learned a lot and much of it was applicable to our bakery since we were focusing more on specialty baking (for people with food allergies) than decorating. Meanwhile I was working on my MBA so I could manage the business side of the bakery.
If you want to focus on cake decorating or learn the business side you are probably better off looking for more specialized education.
I always loved to bake and began as a home-based baking business, then grew my business into a retail shop (without the benefit of anything more than a home ec/journalism degree). It would have been nice if I'd had a pastry arts degree, but it would have been nicer if I'd had a business degree. Those are two different sets of skills, as PumpkinTart and Jason explained.
It would be helpful for you to separate the two and think about how they impact owning a business. Remember, you don't have to do everything. You can hire people to do the things that are necessary in owning/running a cake business.
Thank you all for the great input and advice!! :]