Culinary School

Business By elizacake Updated 15 Nov 2009 , 2:48pm by bea30

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elizacake Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 11:22pm
post #1 of 12

To go or not to go...that is the question... I perused through topics for awhile until my eyes hurt, so I'll just go ahead and ask.
I am a mostly self taught at home baker who would like to take the plunge into the world of small business. (Right now I'm an accounting manager...and desperately want out.) I've been doing cake off and on for roughly 20 yrs...cake decorating was one of my favorite 4-H projects. I only do a few big cakes a year for friends and family right now and while I'm a decent home baker...I would love to open my own shop if I can get my outcomes to be more professional. (Yes, I know practice makes perfect...but I work too long hours at my current job.)
How many of you out there went to or would recommend going to culinary school? There is a culinary school close by that has a baking/pastry program. I'm going to go check it out on Monday. icon_smile.gif This will be a fact finding mission, as my dh and I have yet to decide whether or not we could financially make it work.
Pro's that I can think of right off the bat would be food saftey knowledge and learning new tips and tricks about candy, chocolate, and pastry...currently of which I don't have much knowledge. Was thinking it might also look good to the bank when it comes time for acquiring a loan.
Any thoughts? I would love to turn my passion into a happier way to provide for my family. I do know and understand the stresses of owning/running your own business. I just know that no matter how stressed I have gotten with a cake...It's nowhere near the stress of what I do now.
Thanks for reading!

11 replies
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costumeczar Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 11:46pm
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You don't HAVE to go to culinary school, but I did and I think that it helps in terms of understanding the baking part of the process. Developing your own recipes, etc. Also, the experience with the other areas of pastry come in handy. If there's a pastry certificate program you might want to look into that, that's what I did because all I wanted to eventually do was cakes, not the whole foodie thing. I didn't need a wine tasting course to do wedding cakes (although some days it would help when dealing with customers!)

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elizacake Posted 25 Oct 2009 , 1:50am
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Thanks for your reply! That's basically my thought process already. icon_smile.gif Yes, they have a baking/pastry program, which is the whole reason I would go if I did.

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TitiaM Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 4:44am
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I went to culinary school as well. I thought it was worth it, though I wish I had done the specifically baking and pastry program the school had. It's good to learn the right way to do things and the science behind it so you can mess around with your own recipes and know what you are doing.

However, often the programs don't have a lot of specifically cake and decorating portions of the program, and if that's all you want to do you might not get your money's worth out of it. I like knowing how to do the other stuff too, but I guess thats something you would have to think about. icon_smile.gif

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andrea7 Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 2:18pm
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I have a cake studio and have interns. All three have culinary degrees. Le cordon blu, Art Institute of Houston and the French Culinary Institute. They know the mechanics of how to put something together but only by text book, not experience.

The first two interns could not even make a border or pipe. They all didn't know what internal supports for the cake were. My newest intern told me she could make borders, I was so excited! They were actually good, so I ask where did you learn this and she says "my dad thought me". She just spent $140,000.00 on a 6 month pastry school and they did not teach her how to pipe. It blows my mind that you could pay that kind of money and get nothing from it.

Now she has some killer contacts from going there, and these days it's not what you do but who you know. I'd love to meet Ron Ben Isreal and all the wonderful people she has met but she has no speed, no skills and huge debt. For me with no culinary degree and 20 years of cake experience i'm doing great. Andrea

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elizacake Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 3:09pm
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Andrea, thanks for your honest reply! I was wondering about all those same things so your reply helps! The contacts would be wonderful, but you're right...I'll just have to weigh the cost against the outcome. icon_smile.gif

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lilthorner Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 3:14pm
post #7 of 12

im in pastry school now, at my local community college.. we are only taught fundamentals.. we learn basic piping in class, but nothing about supports etc. i have been in school 2 years (community college is on semesters) I wish I would have gone to a private school because of the length of time icon_smile.gif

I have been baking since i was 15 (I'm 36) i learned about classic french pastry in school and about why/how stuff works (like baking soda etc.)

I don't feel like school is required, but it is helpful, in my opinion

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TitiaM Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 4:43pm
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Wow, they didn't teach them how to pipe--we learned that, at least the basics, in regular culinary school.

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backermeister Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 3:26am
post #9 of 12

I'm also a pastry chef. A pastry program is just a starting foundation that is meant to be built on through further education and varying experiences. Many cake designers, chocolatiers, etc have established businesses without schooling but it does help give you basic insight into all aspects of pastry.

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prterrell Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 3:31am
post #10 of 12

For me, going to a culinary school is one of those things I (and DH) would do if we were independently wealthy, just for the fun of it (we often dream about running off to the CIA together). I looked into going to Le Cordon Bleu and at the Art Institute of Atlanta, but ulitimately decided that that was not the right path for me. I honestly think working as a grocery store decorator for a couple of years was vastly more educational and productive. It certainly helped my speed!

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polliwawg Posted 9 Nov 2009 , 5:05am
post #11 of 12

I am going through the exact same situation. There are no accredited pastry programs in my area, so that complicates things. None of the local bakeries want to hire unless you have a degree, which is beyond me since I have talked to a few of the owners and they have told me that many of the interns from the schools are lacking in skills. It is definitely a frustrating position to be in. I feel like I keep going in circles trying to figure out what I am going to do to make my dream of owning my own shop become a reality.

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bea30 Posted 15 Nov 2009 , 2:48pm
post #12 of 12

I wish there was a Cake Central degree. I have learned so much on here in the last few days. I'm taking a class in January to learn safety and sanitation, and a baking class. Then I will decide if I want to take more.

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