Getting back into the Baking Game...

Joined Feb 4, 2011
So I'm a 2008 Cordon Bleu grad that had a horrible accident a few years back.  Basically a thin glass shattered in my left hand while washing, cutting through major arteries and tendons, making my hand utterly useless.  Now after a few surgeries and good time in rehab (most of the feeling has returned); I'm ready to get back to my goals, becoming a pastry chef.

Currently I'm working on a portfolio:

• Baking at home (tarts and pies are my specialty).

• Trying out school and homemade recipes.

• Pushing myself, trying hard recipes.

• Taking pictures and posting them on Facebook.

• Getting feedback (good/bad).

• Figuring out raw food costs.

Once I have a good bulk of my work documented I'm going to buy a URL and have an official online portfolio.  Mainly to shop around though it will be a bank full of recipes and notes that I can access at anytime.

Now before I start on this next step I have a slew a questions to ask:

• Realistically, what is the job market like for a Culinary Grad?

• Is it better to be a freelance baker (doing weekly jobs for numerous coffee shops, dinners and restaurants) or landing a job at a well established bakery?

• What pay scale should I expect if working for a bakery?

• What should my 'Build/Time/Creation Cost' be if I work freelance/catering?

• Is there any secrets of hints in bring down raw food costs without skimping on quality?

I know these are questions I could be asking my old Cordon Bleu counselor but I would like to hear some real world experience.

Thanks for reading the mess above.

Joined Mar 23, 2011
I always love to be part of that game as cook! But im not professional, and have lots of idea to experiment my own recipes... Hope they would consider some that knowledgeable on playing some recipe for a non expert cook.
Joined Jan 15, 2001
I think it depends on what part of the country you're job searching in as to how the job market is? Same with pay scale. As a grad, many people come out of school expecting to make a lot of money and are pretty disheartened when they find they have to start at a lower pay scale just like many people who didn't go to school.

My personal experience with many (NOT ALL!) graduates has been that they're hard to train and hard to work with because they believe the way they were taught was the ONLY correct way and getting them to do it my way was a battle. Getting grads to understand the need for urgency and speed was often difficult too.  I had better luck bringing people up from the dish-pit as they were more than happy to do things exactly as I asked them because they were just so happy they weren't scrubbing pots while the graduates would complain to me that they were overqualified for this or overqualified for that and not being paid enough. Not to bash on you personally, but letting you know that this is possibly what you are going up against when you look for a job. So it's definitely a good time to be humble, be willing to work for a lower pay wage than the counselors may have sold you on when they were getting you to sign up, and let your potential employers know that you WANT the opportunity to learn THEIR ways to do things. Sometimes you find you're learning how you definitely DON'T want to do things when you have the chance to do it your way :p 

The problem with cooking in your own kitchen free-lance is you could be violating health department code so check into that. And then you have to figure in delivery costs - gas, wear and tear on your vehicle, time, etc...

Also, what do you want to accomplish? I've worked in resort pastry shops, restaurants, and retail bakeries. My preference is for resorts/hotels or restaurants because you're always doing something new-- finer restaurants change their menus seasonally and resorts often have one or more restaurant outlets as well and banquets... bakeries often do the same things all the time and you're not going to be learning much after the first couple of months or so though you can get really expert at the things you are doing and will likely have a lot more chance to work with breads. 

What is better? who knows? It's up to you, but i hope that this input gives you an idea of what direction looks more appealing to you??

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