Wannabe pastry chef

Discussion in 'General Culinary School Discussions' started by amym, Aug 25, 2002.

  1. amym

    amym

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    Hi. I'm looking for some advice on becoming a pastry chef. I'm 29 and making a major career change. If my goal is to become a pastry chef, is it better to go through a culinary arts program such at The Art Institute of Colorado for an associates dregree and then progress from there? Or, is it smarter to go into a pastry-specific program? The pastry program I'm looking at is The Cooking School of the Rockies (not accredited by the ACF) Also, how important is it to attend a school that is accredited? Can I become a certified pastry chef by attending a school that's not affiliated with the ACF?

    I will greatly appreciate any advice.

    AmyM
     
  2. panini

    panini

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    Hi AmyM,
    You can get your CWPC or CEPC without the acredited schooling.. Go to the AFC site and you will see the qualifications. Also, remember that these are culinary schools and not chef schools.
    They do not graduate chefs. The learning part is just a step towards becoming a Chef. Good luck to you.
    Jeff
     
  3. amym

    amym

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    Hi Panini

    Thanks for your response. I'm a little confused, however. Are you saying that I can become an AFC certified pastry chef without going to a school accredited by the AFC? Or, do I simply need schooling (wherever that might be) and experience?

    Thanks again for your time.

    AmyM
     
  4. panini

    panini

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    Hi AmyM,
    My MO is not to explain things correctly. If I have to use my hands to type, I can't talk.
    You will need some AFC acredited courses. If you go the the American Culinary Federation website and go to certification, I believe there you will find all the levels and all the requirements. If you need a number to get there, e-mail me.
    Jeff
     
  5. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    Is it necessary though to be a member of the ACF? I never was and most of the chefs I know are not. It always seemed more like a personal choice to me.
     
  6. annie

    annie

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    Hi AmyM!

    I'm over 50, and career-changed this year to pastry, from medical writer. I work with a 23 year old, who was an electrical engineering graduate - we both just love pastry and food. One of the owners of the restaurant I have my first real job at (the others are a long story about the darker side of the food industry) told us that it only matters where you've worked, and who you know - not necessarily where you go to school Such a cynical answer, with a grain of truth. ;) I know the name of the restaurant I work at is worth far more than the actual eexperience!

    Do you want to work only in pastry, or food in general?

    If you really have the personality and obsessive compulsive tendancies ;) :D :D of a pastry chef, is there a way you could get to a pastry school? Chicago, New York, Virginia? The Women's chefs and restauranteurs gives a scholarship to the French Culinary Institute. Apprentice with a local great pastry chef??

    I spent my savings to study with the only Master French Pastry chef in New England = and it's his good name that gets me interviews and my current position. The (very few!) culinary school people I've seen really haven't had very much pastry training, and little hands-on baking. I wonder is this is true across the board?

    In any case, I love my job - when it hit 110 in the pastry kitchen, when we got swamped in Restaurant Week - I love it. This is the only job I've ever had where I'm willing to put up with the junk and still love what I do. I wish the same ( minus the inevitable idiots) to you!
     
  7. amym

    amym

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    Annie,

    Thank you for sharing your story. It's so encouraging to know that others have done this successfully.

    I'm trying to do exactly what you've suggested. I'm talking to local restaurants about jobs and looking at the French Pastry School in Chicago.

    Congratulations for having the courage to take the leap.

    I do, by the way, have those obsessive compulsive tendancies. I had no idea they would come in handy!
     
  8. annie

    annie

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    Yep, the little things that drive my husband crazy - like turning all the knives in the knife rack toward the back - turn out to be useful. A pastry cook can't just turn up the heat on the genoise to get it done quicker, like a line cook can with some things. So organization and perparation, become key.

    I now work at one of the oldest French restaurants in Boston: Maison Robert (house o' bob, en Anglais) a place with a stellar reputation from days gone by - a wonderful name for the resume, though! There are always culinary students in the kitchen - this summer from the Western Culinary Institute and Purdue University (?! a talented young woman) and the fact that they are in school doesn't seem to be impressive. Lack of arrogance and cooking skills are more so.

    Do you have a clue about wanting to work in a restaurant, or hotel, or caterer? It USED to be (I've heard tell) that anyone willing to do the grunt work for $10/hr. could find a job in a pastry kitchen - where you could find out very quickly if this work makes you happy.
     
  9. katbalou

    katbalou

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    annie,
    congratulations on finding a position! wasn't maison robert on those coffee commercials a few years back? you know the ones where you supposedly couldn't tell you were drinking instant coffee? i bet you're doing some wonderful work there.
    kat
     
  10. annie

    annie

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    Thanks Kat - actually, I'm NOT doing wonderful stuff, and we could laugh about the stuff the restaurant does turn out. Pate glace brun 1/2" thick to cover a cake, because the pastry chef can't handle ganache?

    The pastry chef is the ex- line cook intern from Johnson and Wales, the one who can't bake cake OR genois. Serving stuff that looks as bad as it tastes was not what I had in mind.

    So, I've decided to offer to make a few desserts on my own time - and they'll taste good - and the chef will take the credit, and tell management that I am a poor worker :p --but only in the short term, I hope!

    In teh meantime, it's a great name to have on my resume. A lot of chefs used to work ;) ;) at MR!
     
  11. annie

    annie

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    Oh, and I really do love baking and the work with all my heart, so I am grateful to MR for giving me experience!