Career Advice

Joined Aug 17, 2011
I'd love to get advice from some professionals here, as I'm feeling a little lost.  

I WAS a culinary student and was really looking forward to returning this semester, but I just found out I won't be able to.  I worked hard in school and got good grades, but for reasons I'd rather not get into, I won't be able to complete the second year. I still know that being a pastry chef is the only career for me and absolutely what I want to do, so my question is: how do I move forward in my career at this point?  I have three months' experience as an intern at a bakery this summer, but that's it.  What would it take for you to hire someone with only one year of school?  I have a job interview tomorrow ( another state, even)  at a swanky hotel with a huge dessert menu that I would LOVE to land a job at.  What advice could you give me to help me get it?  

I would have liked the extra year of training, but I know that I have skill and I'm willing to work that much harder because I don't have a degree.  Thank you for any and all advice you can give.  


Kitchen Dork
Joined Jun 15, 2006
You know, you don't have to have a "degree" to get into baking and pastry. You just have to get your foot in the door, which you've done with your internship, and that should count toward job experience. Lots of pastry chefs never attended school, rather, they worked up from the bottom, which in my opinion is the best education out there. Plus it's free, AND you get paid to learn new things. You have to show that you are hard working, sincere, can carry your part of the load, and, most of all, show up every day. Sometimes that's all employers are looking for, is someone hard working, easy to train, and dependable. Some employers don't require any sort of degree. In fact, most don't. However if you're looking at a high end hotel, they may require one, but you can always offer to "audition" or do a stage for them to show you're no stranger to a commercial kitchen.

Design your resume to highlight what education you did get, and your internship. List references and include photos of your work if you have any. Pastry and baking is hard work, and employers really are just looking for hard workers who "get it".
Joined Aug 26, 2010
There was an article in the LA Times recently that addressed chefs who never got a culinary degree. You really don't need it. As long as you have experience and can defend that, you should be able to work most anywhere. One of the worst cooks I ever hired was a culinary school grad. I have a friend who is an instructor at a school here and he told me once, "Some of these people just don't belong here."

Hard work and skill pay off in the long run. That's the bottom line in my opinion. One of the best cooks I ever hired had never spent a day in a commercial kitchen. She worked hard, listened and learned. She was going to culinary school in a month and just wanted the experience. She was gold.
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