Culinary School

Business By Dizzymaiden Updated 25 Feb 2009 , 7:49pm by cserwa

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Dizzymaiden Posted 23 Feb 2009 , 7:43pm
post #1 of 17

I am on the fence about going to culinary school to get a pastry certificate. On one hand it would feel good to have professional education but on the other it is so expensive.

Anyone decide to go to school...any thoughts?

16 replies
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allibopp5 Posted 23 Feb 2009 , 9:18pm
post #2 of 17

I'm contemplating the same thing...but not sure if it would be worth the investment or not. I'll be watching for replies also!

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OhMyGanache Posted 23 Feb 2009 , 9:38pm
post #3 of 17

I recommend an internship. You can learn just as much without the $30,000 price tag.

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leah_s Posted 23 Feb 2009 , 10:07pm
post #4 of 17

I did go to culinary school and it was right for me. I'd been baking for 40 years already and just wanted that piece of paper. I already had several other college degrees, so transferred in the general ed requirements. I also tested out of several classes. All of that cut my tuition dramatically. And now I'm a pasty chef!

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costumeczar Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 1:53am
post #5 of 17

I did a pastry arts certificate, and it was a good experience. I didn't want to do the whole food program because I'm a picky eater icon_smile.gif and I would have been holding my nose at half of the things you had to make. I like desserts, though!

An internship would also be good experience, it depends on what you're planning on doing with the education part of it. If you want to do something really specific and have no interest in other areas, you could try to find an internship in that area. If you're going for general knowledge of all foods, then doing the whole food course might be a good option.

I enjoyed the pastry certificate program because all I wanted to do was the baking part of it, and it gave me a good foundation of understanding the chemistry side of the baking process and the other technical parts of different types of baking.

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snarkybaker Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 2:00am
post #6 of 17

It depends on what is important to you. If you want mostly to be a "cake designer" then no, don't go to culinary school. Go to art school. But, IMO, do go to school.
After culinary school, you'll be able to do things like write your own scratch baking recipes because of the foundation you'll have in food science. You'll be able to calculate the cost of your recipes easily, which most amateurs don't do at all, and those that do, most don't do correctly.

Another of the advantages of school either art or culinary, is acquiring the breadth of knowledge to develop your own "style". Apprentices are limited in learning to what their mentor teaches.

I won't hire someone without professional training. It doesn't have to be culinary, but the professionalism of an employee who has taken the time to go to school is virtually always worth more than the self trained employee.

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ncdessertdiva Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 3:02am
post #7 of 17

Any education is a good education. My passion is the pastry arts but I'm getting a good foundation in all things food with my AAS degree from my local community college. The cost will be approximately $5,000.00. When I graduate not only will I be a chef but I will have the management and business skills required in the industry. Most culinary programs are a stepping stone, they give you the basics and then you decide how to best utilize your degree. I would check into any local programs offered by your community college or 4 year institute (some have programs for the hospitality industry) and compare. Recently, The Art Institute has come to this area so we another choice for culinary schools. Unfortunately, most community college do not offer just a baking and pastry certificate/diploma program. At least not in my state. In my two year program, we have 3 semesters of baking and pastry - very intense, and our chef is a taskmaster.

Hope this information helps.

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peachcake Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 3:40pm
post #8 of 17

I live in Georgia. I checked out Le Cordon Bleu for their Pastry Chef course. It was 20,564.00. The man I talk to said I would be done in a few months but a lot of the jobs I've seen around the area only pay about 10 bucks an hour to start. I don't know if it's the area or what but I thought you would make more than that. I made 12 an hour as a Bakery Manager for a grocery store chain. Also being unemployed at the moment did put a damper on the money part. I feel school would help me find a job a lot easier but I kinda in a dilema about all this myself. Unfortunately our local colleges don't offer anything of this sort. What about the on-line schools. How good would those be? Any suggestions?

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kellertur Posted 25 Feb 2009 , 3:00am
post #9 of 17

This is a good question. I've recently hit a brick wall on this one (I'm vegan and there are no veg culinary schools ANYWHERE in my reach and the one school around here won't accomodate.) That said, I'm teaching myself.

I do have a fine arts degree, which helps, but I don't think it's necessary unless you plan to become a serious visual artist. I use my degree outside of cake decorating. Art school is extremely expensive, just like any other school (atleast mine was.) $65,000.00, thank goodness for grants, etc. That was 12 yrs ago too...
icon_confused.gif Maybe a design school would be a better choice?

Good luck whatever you decide. Change can be very exciting. icon_smile.gif

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Bethkay Posted 25 Feb 2009 , 1:09pm
post #10 of 17

I had the luxury of being able to complete a community college pastry program that had only a few non-baking culinary class prerequisites.

Like Leahs, I already had a college degree and was able to transfer all of my general ed classes, so that saved me time as well. The entire process took me about 18 months, and because it was at a community college, the cost was much more manageable than some of the schools people have mentioned.

For me, school was worth every penny. Although I had been baking all of my life, I picked up a huge amount of knowledge and confidence that has allowed me to start my own home-based business.

I say if you can find a program that you can afford, to for it! thumbs_up.gif

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moonliter Posted 25 Feb 2009 , 1:24pm
post #11 of 17

for Peachcake: in the meantime while you are deciding what to do, if you haven't already done so, since you live in GA you can always go to Nicholas Lodge's classes for the decorating part:

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peachcake Posted 25 Feb 2009 , 2:18pm
post #12 of 17


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peachcake Posted 25 Feb 2009 , 2:21pm
post #13 of 17

Thanks Moonliter, Great website. Didn't know about this one. This guy is good.

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Dizzymaiden Posted 25 Feb 2009 , 2:41pm
post #14 of 17

I have an art and design education as well as some culinary classes but after reading each of your comments it is clear that an education is better than non.

I want to find a school that focuses on organic cooking - I agree K2cakes that this is a mission impossible. There is one in New York - but I work full time and live in MA.

Becoming an intern is interesting but not sure I can swing it $$.

I keep taking classes and workshops in baking and art - this helps alot. I can't wait to much longer - I am not getting any younger... icon_wink.gif

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tx_cupcake Posted 25 Feb 2009 , 2:50pm
post #15 of 17

I am sort of in the same boat.

I graduated from college with two semi-useless degrees, went to law school and absolutely hated it so there was no way I was going to be a lawyer. I felt completely lost with no real career path, and then I discovered baking and cake decorating!

Ironically though, now that I've found a passion I don't know if I want to spend the money necessary to become a certified pastry chef. I've looked into a few programs around town, and they are $20K and up. And there are no scholarships for these schools. I just don't see how I would ever recoup my cost. And other than having a certification to show a loan officer, I don't see how it would really help me in terms of starting a business.

The community colleges around here don't really offer much in the way of culinary classes, so I'm kind of stuck. CC has become my cake grad school! icon_lol.gif

Sorry for the tangent, but I just wanted to let you know you are not alone!

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kellertur Posted 25 Feb 2009 , 4:56pm
post #16 of 17
Originally Posted by Dizzymaiden

I want to find a school that focuses on organic cooking - I agree K2cakes that this is a mission impossible. There is one in New York - but I work full time and live in MA.

I totally missed that you were from Boston~ I'm in Maine. icon_smile.gif
Have you checked into the Boston Vegetarian Society? They may have some ideas about organic resources for school.

Hey, since you are in Boston, have you checked out that incredible patisserie (I think it's Jorge's, or something). He's always on the Food Network. If he offered vegan classes, I'd be banging down his door. icon_rolleyes.gif

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cserwa Posted 25 Feb 2009 , 7:49pm
post #17 of 17

Anyone know how to acquire getting an internship? I would love to persue this avenue, but am unsure about how to go about it.

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