Need Some Insight

Joined Apr 9, 2011
I've always loved baking and I want to pursue a career in baking. I'm 25 and have absolutely nothing tying me in one spot (aside from lack of funds, but I've reconciled to the idea that I'm going to have to take out loans for culinary school). I'm from the D.C. area so L'Academie de Cuisine is the obvious choice. I'm also considering NECI and FCI (preferably the new California location). I was also considering PICA located in Vancouver and while it's inexpensive, not only would I have to deal with the pain in the butt bureaucracy of international studying, it's also the only place on my list that doesn't offer housing (L'Academie doesn't but obviously I can live at home). I haven't ruled out Johnson & Wales Rhode Island, either.

I know that FCI has a good rep in the culinary community, but what about L'Academie and NECI (the latter being endorsed by the patron saint of food geeks, Alton Brown)? And if I go with NECI, should I go with the Associates in Baking & Pastry Arts or the Certificate?

Also, I would very much like some insight in the daily life of a baker. I know I won't become rich, but just want to be financially independent. I'm fine with weird hours because I'm quite used to that with my current job. I'm pretty introverted so I'm fine working on my own, but don't have a problem with working with others. I do heavy lifting of up to 75lbs. at work, so that's not an issue. My goal is to own my own little bakery in New Mexico, Wilmington, North Carolina, Northern California, or the Pacific Northwest. While I don't have a vested interest, I'm willing to learn gluten-free and maybe vegan baking since those are growing niches. I also want to learn East Asian pastry and desserts because I had the wonderful opportunity to study abroad in Japan during undergrad and sampled a few of their desserts, like mochi and profiteroles with azuki beans.

Um, that's enough rambling on. I hope I've given enough for people to work with. Thanks in advance for any advice!
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Joined Apr 3, 2010
Although not a baker by trade, I would suggest trying to find a position as a benchman or helper in a bakery to learn the ropes.       Then if you find you really like it, then  possibly formal schooling. You don't want to have to lift 75 to 100 pounds all your life. Good Luck to you
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Baking is baking and not cooking, so why go to culinary schools?

The mot common piece of advice you'll get from any Chef or baker is to work in the industry for a while, so please do this asap.

PICA has a baking dept, but not as good as VCC (Vancouver Comm. college), and I strongly urge you to check out community colleges in your area.

Baking is baking, and running a bakery is a whole different story--marketing, customer service, the  usual business dealings.  You will get an appreciation and understanding  of this when you work for other people
Joined Jul 28, 2001

  They are right. I've been on the sweet side of the kitchen for decades. I don't even know what a baker is. Everthing is

so bastardized it's confusing. I have owned Pastry Shops. The one we have now was opened as a Pastry Shop but somehow has evolved into a bakery. To me a Baker refers to yeast. I worked my hardest to eliminate the word from my life. Yeast products require a rediculous amount of time doing repetitious work. Not to mention rediculous hours. Intent concentration, the yeast has to follow you, you cannot chase the yeast.

  I've gotten to the point where we open Mon-Fri 9am to 4pm ...Sat, 8am to 1pm  Sun closed.  But no breads.

It;s a process of educating your clientel and building a tradition.

School is not a bad thing but bakeries are usually a bit more intimate and you can usually pick up most of the basics with some hands on.

If you want to have a bakery, then set your goals. I would suggest it would be very important to take some business classes.

Good luck

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