Pastry Chef Worth It?????

Decorating By carcake Updated 17 Jun 2010 , 4:28am by Rog2e

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carcake Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 4:46pm
post #1 of 18

Is becoming a pastry chef worth it?????

I'm student in high school I'm about to become a senior so i have to start planning my career. I have found a passion in cooking but, specially in baking i really love decorating cakes, I think it is just an amazing form of art but, this is not what my parents think. They have this dream of me becoming a teacher. what should I do???? this is what i want and everyone else loves what I create. should I fallow me career or make my parents happy?

I REALLY NEED SOME HELP WHAT CAN I DO? thumbsdown.gif / thumbs_up.gif

17 replies
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saycheese Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 4:59pm
post #2 of 18

I can't answer for you, but I can tell you as someone who wanted to become a chef while I was in high school, I didn't pursue it at that time and now I am sorry I didn't.

You have to do what you are passionate about and love or you will not be happy with your career decision.

Teaching is an admirable profession, but it's not for everyone. Lord knows I couldn't do it. icon_rolleyes.gif

Good luck in your endeavors!!!

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jqorso Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 5:02pm
post #3 of 18

I think it's important that you pick something you love to do. It's a lot harder and costs more to get one degree in something you hate, then go back get another one in something you like.

You have to ask can I really do X career for the next 40+ years? If the answer is no, don't waste your time.

As for being a pastry chef as being "worth it". It depends on how you define that. If it's doing something you love, then it's worth it. If not, probably not. It's about you, not your parents.

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au_decorator_76 Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 5:15pm
post #4 of 18

Do it! I'm 33 and getting a second degree in a field on the opposite end of my original one because I didn't listen to my heart before! icon_smile.gif

Good luck with whatever you decide to do! icon_smile.gif

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-K8memphis Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 5:21pm
post #5 of 18

Worth what? Define it.

It = Internal satisfaction? Maybe.
It = Pay the bills? Not so much.

Generally speaking kids who come out of culinary college or go into the poshest kitchens in the country can be easily replaced with people willing to work for minimum wage or not much more. So the wages are not there.

Pastry chef and cake artist are two very different things as it relates to a full time job.

I would recommend that you shadow someone, each different occupation and get an accurate job description.

Pastry chefs max out at about $16 an hour give or take but that's in the higher cost of living areas too. Cakers can make more but it can be feast or famine.

I mean when you say worth it--I read that as can I pay my bills. I'd answer with--if you have a very low cost of living--live in a commune stuff like that. For a second income in the family sure--great choice if you wanna work weekends and holidays.

But I think you still need to do what you wanna do--just be sure you weigh everything carefully.

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cupcake_cutie Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 5:23pm
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I agree with everyone else. YOU have to live YOUR life!!! My mother also wanted me to go into teaching and that's what I did, until I realized that I did not want to work with kids the rest of my life. So now 8 years later I'm doing what I love to do and I'm in Pastry Arts school! You have to do what's best for you to make you happy. There's nothing worse than going to work everyday hating what you do. icon_smile.gif

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abeane Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 5:25pm
post #7 of 18
Originally Posted by saycheese

You have to do what you are passionate about and love or you will not be happy with your career decision.

Agreed!!! This is the advice that I hear over and over from the most successful people that I know. Your decision should be based on what you want, not what your parents want. That's not to say that your parents' opinion should not be taken into account. I went to a 4-year university in part because that was what was expected of me but mostly because I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I have a BA in psychology and I have a good job in the psychology field. I am fortunate to have this job and I do not regret the time, energy, and money that I've spent on psychology; however, I am now thinking seriously about following my passion for baking. My point is, what you decide to do now does not necessarily have to be a lifelong commitment!

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sweetiesbykim Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 5:33pm
post #8 of 18

I'm 42, and about to apply to a French Pastry School in the US. I find it will give me more confidence, respect, knowledge, problem solving skills, time management, and put me a step ahead of any local competition. There is a 3-month internship with 4-5 star restaurants and highly acclaimed pastry chefs, so I can't imagine how much that will do for my "resume". My goal is like everyone elses -to own my own business, but I'd rather learn from some accomplished pastry kitchens in the mean time using their money.

Don't get me wrong, I know experience is worth an education, and at my age I'll have both!!! I worked with a girl that went to a well known pastry school in NYC right after high school. When she started working with us, we still had to teach her the very basics of how to make certain items, and she couldn't decorate or frost a cake to save her life! She was eventually moved to open in the mornings to make breads and am pastries, which she knew much better than cakes and desserts due to her education.

I would say go ahead and apply to school if it's your passion, but also get as much at-home and professional experience at the same time. It will place you far ahead of your class mates! icon_smile.gif

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cheriej Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 5:41pm
post #9 of 18

Here is my advice: You are very young and you are looking at choosing one OR the other career. I would suggest you find an internship at a bakery and see if you even like it. Even if you have to do it for free. And I would not rule out going to college and getting a degree. Your parents know you best and they must see some talent in you for the teaching profession. When I was your age, I wanted to teach music. I had good, not great, musical talent. My mother one day told me that she thought it was more of a hobby for me and that I should think about something different. I was crushed. But I really respected my mother and I went to college and majored in finance. I ended up with a fantastic and successful career that allowed me to retire early. I never gave up music and now if I want to I can go back and teach if I want. I think the lesson I learned is that it's great to follow your passion but life is a very long journey - don't close any doors that are open to you because you never know what you will actually enjoy doing until you try it. Best of luck to you.

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artscallion Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 5:42pm
post #10 of 18

Also be aware that many schools focus almost entirely on pastry/sugar/chocolate arts and consider cake decorating to be a minor part of pastry arts, only include basic cake skills, like baking and piping, or only offer one class in things like fondant and gumpaste flowers.

Most schools will aim towards giving you a well rounded education in all pastry arts. But some focus more on one area or another. You need to check the curriculum first or you may end up spending a lot of time making cream puffs and pulled sugar bird's nests when you'd rather be learning gumpaste flowers and stringwork.

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melmar02 Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 5:56pm
post #11 of 18

As someone who majored in dance, please don't take my comments the wrong way. I'm all for following your dreams!

But...Who is footing the bill? Yes, it is your future, but if your parents are paying your tuition you need to at least listen to what they have to say. If they are dead set against you entering this field they have every right to pull the plug on you - after all, it's their money. However, do some research and talk to them on a "this is business and not personal" level. What about majoring in business at a 4 year university AND getting a pastry cert? They may be concerned that you won't have an education to fall back on if something happens like suffering an accidental bad cut or burn. You may be able to come to a compromise with your parents once they see how you have thought this through.

Good luck in whatever you decide is right for you! thumbs_up.gif

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tonedna Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 6:05pm
post #12 of 18

I went to College to satisfy my parents need for me to have a College degree. After that I went I did what I wanted. I dont regret my learnings in College, since now these days, after all these years they have helped me now. But I would say FOLLOW YPUR DREAMS...
Sometimes happiness comes from loving what you do..
Edna icon_smile.gif

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TexasSugar Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 6:30pm
post #13 of 18

I'd say you are young still, do some research, and really think about what you want. What I wanted when I was 17/18 and what I wanted when I was 20/21 and what I want now were all different things. Sometimes we have to circle around to find our places.

If your parents are footing the bill, then they do have some say in your education. I can't say I'd agree with a parent picking with the near adult should do for the rest of their lives, but I think they have a say in which schools they are willing to pay for.

You need to sit down and have a heart to heart with them. Not a screaming match but ask them why it is important to them that you become a teacher and see if you can explain why you feel you are better suited doing the pastry school thing. Maybe you can find a compromise that will make both of you happy.

My guess is they want you to be a teacher because they see that is a job that is always in need and that you will have a job when you get out of school. They may think pastry chef and say well what will she do with that? And if that is the case then you need to have some idea, a realistic one, on what you can do with that degree, and what you will do with it.

When you think I want to be a pastry chef, what do you think about after the schooling?

If you can show them what your future plans after school are they may be more open to something besides teaching. Or if you see they want you to major is something that there really is open jobs for, then maybe you can find something besides teaching that you can major in that will help you with what you want in your future.

I went to college, wasted time and my parents money because it was expected of me. They felt I had to have a college degree and I didn't have a clear cut answer of what "I wanted to be". I thought I knew, but like I said what I wanted changed. I changed majors three times in five semesters and then finally stood up and told my parents I couldn't keep going to school for them. Of course they were disappointed but they got over it.

We can spend our whole lives trying to please other people and be unhappy along the way. Or we can really think about what we want and go for that, even if it does make others unhappy or disappointed.

Take some time to really think about what you want. Maybe some of the Pasty Chef's on here will let you bend their ears and ask some what is it really like questions so that you can make and educated choice rather than an emotional one.

I love to cook, love it! And if you had asked me when I was 17 I would have told you I wanted to be a Chef and have my own resturant. Then the real world set in and I realised that I didn't want to be on my feet in front of a hot stove for hours every night then doing all the business stuff during the day. I realised how much work it was, it wasn't the same as cooking a dinner at home for the family. I still love to cook and enjoy it, but I figured out that just because I liked to cook didn't mean I was meant to be a chef.

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hollyberry91 Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 6:59pm
post #14 of 18

I agree about doing what you care about. Teaching will most likely provide you with a higher income with better benefits and retirement but I don't think anyone should teach unless they have a passion for it because they are responsible for the student's education. The best advice I can give you is to pick something you know you will enjoy, will stick with, and most importantly something you know you will be able to find a good job when you graduate. If i were you i were you i would find the shortest least expensive pastry program you can and find a part-time job working in a bakery in the meantime. I have a biology degree and i have a low paying secretary job and make cakes on the side. So keep in mind degree doesn't always equal good paying job.

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PiccoloChellie Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 7:03pm
post #15 of 18

Here's my advice. Take it as you will.

Get a degree or some experience in a "stable" field - business, construction, nursing, what have you. Have something you can fall back on.

When I was a young lass, I wanted to grow up and be....a professional wrestler. Or a chef.
My mom told me to make sure I had something to fall back on. Both of my dream professions were long shots, and while no job is for certain, there are some that are a lot riskier than others. If all I knew how to do was bodyslam people and/or cook them dinner, where would I be if there was no market for professional wrestlers or chefs?

So I went to college and I started working an office job. After a few years I was financially stable, I had moved to a bigger city and a better office job, and so I did what any sane, rational person would do.
I went to wrestling school. And I became a professional wrestler. And, bygod, I was able to live my childhood dream, working in a field even more fickle than the culinary field.
It was amazing, fantastic - no, it was sheer nirvana.
And then I suffered my 6th major concussion and developed something called postconcussive syndrome. Coupled with repeated shoulder dislocations, numerous broken bones, and a couple herniated discs in my back...I could no longer wrestle, medically speaking.
If I'd not had schooling and job experience in the business world, I would had even more to worry about beyond my health. I would have had no way to support myself financially. Fortunately I was able to hop right back into an office job and continue on with my life.

Now I've taken another leap to follow my other childhood dream in the culinary world. I don't know for sure if I'll succeed, but I feel confident in trying because I know I have other options available to me if things just don't work out.

So, my dear, follow your dream.
But have something to fall back on, too.

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Donnagardner Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 7:20pm
post #16 of 18

Well said PiccoloChellie!!!

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LisaMarie86 Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 7:33pm
post #17 of 18

You need to do what is in your heart. I went to school for teaching for a few semesters but it wasnt for me and I ended up flunking out. I have since gone to culinary school and am almost done wtih 1 degree and half way through my other. It wont be a glamourous life thats for sure. Culinary school is a lot harder than most would think. Its not just kitchen time you have book work and lots of other things to do.

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Rog2e Posted 17 Jun 2010 , 4:28am
post #18 of 18

My wife, who is now a cake decorator, went to the French Culinary Institute in NYC for pastry arts 3 years ago. In the beginning she didn't know what she wanted to do and it just so happened we almost went into the restaurant biz so I told her to try pastry chef since she is very artistic and would also serve to help us out in our business.

Well as she attended the program she was introduced to cake decorating and got to take sessions with Alyssa Strauss, Ron Ben Israel and she just fell in love with cake decorating. When it was all said and done, the restaurant thing never happened but now she is a full time Cake Decorator.

To be honest, 3/4 of the things she learned in school, she does not apply to cake decorating because most of it is about doing desserts and the science behind it. What I would say though was indispensable was the contacts she made. She probably would not have been able to get the internship at Ron's if she didn't get that chef diploma since Ron is so affiliated with the school and that's where she learned a lot about cake decorating. One of her classmates that graduated with her got an internship and eventually a job with Collette Peters. From that point on she's always able to find work because of who she has worked with and for and also because she is talented.

Now was it worth the 36K tuition fee. I would say so. But you need to stay focused on the goal. There are also some of her classmates that are doing nothing related to cake decorating or pastry arts for that matter. I'll stop here this thread is too long :p

I guess it's just like anything else with schooling. I know people with degrees and MBA's that work as salesmen in Bestbuy.

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