Want to Go to Pastry School?

Minifruittarts

I get a lot of e-mails asking about my experience with going to a professional pastry school, how to pick a good pastry school, and whether or not to go to pastry school. Excellent questions, all of them. I finally decided to gather all my thoughts together and put them down on this page. I hope you find this helpful and perhaps you’ll learn a little bit more about where pastrygirl came from!

8/17/13: Make sure to read my post about the recently launched San Francisco Cooking School – they offer both a full-time and part-time pastry program taught by James Beard award-winning pastry chef Nicole Plue.

Strawberrytartlet

What made you decide to go to pastry school? Where did you go to pastry school?


About 5 years ago, I was at my totally non-baking-related day job thinking about what I was going to bake that weekend. I’d been slowly moving up from my Betty Crocker and Better Homes cookbooks to fancier tomes featuring layer cakes and puff pastry, and I realized I really wanted to learn about the art of pastry – more than I was getting just by reading cookbooks at home.

Plumfrangipane

I wanted someone who could critique my technique so my tart crusts would come out thin and crisp, my cake layers light and fluffy; someone who could answer my questions about what role eggs played in baking and fill in my knowledge gaps; most of all, I wanted someone to talk to who loved baking as much as I did!

I decided the answer was to take a course in pastry. I’d already taken cooking classes from various organizations but I wanted to get a full, comprehensive education this time. I went and researched the programs available in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I decided on the part-time professional pastry program at Tante Marie’s Cooking School.  I chose Tante Marie for several reasons: the program was only part-time, meaning I would not have to leave my day job (and I needed that job to pay for pastry school!); when I visited the school I was impressed by the facilities, the class size, and the instructor (current students I talked to also commented positively on the program); and the cost of the program was one I could afford and which seemed commensurate with what I would gain from the program (I address this topic more specifically below).

I sent in my application with my fingers crossed and waited anxiously for a few months – when I was notified that I would be part of the new class in fall it was one of the best days of my life.

Lemoncurdtarts

What was your experience in pastry school like?
I had a wonderful time in pastry school. I always tell people it’s one of the best things I ever did, not simply in terms of entering the pastry profession or even becoming a better baker, but as something I did for just for me. It brought me a lot of happiness to be doing something I loved, getting better at it, and being surrounded by like-minded people. That said, it was more challenging to balance a full-time job with pastry school than I expected. The pastry course was six months long, and we had class two nights a week plus every other Saturday (all day). Our classes were usually structured with a lecture/demo for the first hour and then the rest of the class time devoted to actual baking and a critique at the end. We had midterms, reports, and a final project. Long time readers will probably not be surprised to know that I did a tribute to Pierre Hermé as my final project.

Graduation

My instructor, Rachel, was a very talented pastry chef who had worked under Fran Gage of San Francisco’s Pâtisserie Française. Rachel made the most beautiful wedding cakes and later left Tante Marie to open her own shop. I found her a very knowledgeable and sympathetic teacher; with a small class size of 14 people you always had the chance to speak one on one with her and get your questions answered. Our curriculum spanned all the basics of French pâtisserie, from custards to tarts to cakes to laminated doughs. We were given copious reference notes and recipes – the binders holding all that material is still the biggest “cookbook” I own!

Atschool

Of course, one disadvantage of going to a part-time school was that you didn’t have as much time to bake as in a full-time course. On weekday nights when classes were four hours long, we would usually have time to bake only one or two things. Oftentimes we would leave the class at 10:30 with still steaming-hot pastries packed in our bags. Because we only had six months to cover the curriculum, out of necessity some topics could not be covered in depth as much as I would have liked – for example, we only baked bread twice. However, Rachel encouraged us to bake as much as we could at home and to bring in the results for critique and to ask her questions at any time. She also set up days near the end of the course that were “free lab” days where we could make anything we wanted that we hadn’t had the opportunity to do yet.

I really benefited a lot from having an experienced professional like Rachel to help me along and answer my questions – it helped take my baking to the next level. And not just in terms of baking technique but in learning to work in a kitchen in a clean, quick, and organized manner, and learning to work around and with other bakers. I also met some great people in class, which is what made it so fun. All my classmates were contemplating some sort of job involving pastry, which made them very hardworking, dedicated, enthusiastic, and supportive of each other. I hadn’t started my blog yet back then – I wish I had done so to document the experience!

Concordecake

Should I go to pastry school?

The more times I received this question, I more I realized I was hesitant to give a simple “yes” or “no” answer. What I realized I wanted was to ask in return, “Why do you want to go to pastry school?” And if the answer was, “To bec ome a pastry chef,” my next question would be, “Have you explored what the actual job of a baker is like?”

Panettone

When I went to Tante Marie’s, it was not with the intention of leaving my job and becoming a baker. I wanted to learn more about pastry and I was curious about the pastry profession, but I hadn’t thought of joining it yet. As the class continued, I realized I really enjoyed pastry and working in the kitchen. I loved it enough that at the end of the class, I took a one month externship in a bakery. A year later, I left my job to work full time in a bakery.

I learned a great deal working in bakery – many things from my wonderful pastry chef, but also about what choosing pastry as a profession entailed, including long hours, intense physical labor, demanding schedules, and low pay (especially compared to my white-collar office-worker’s salary). My pastry school classmates and I were told by Rachel that if you choose pastry as a profession, you do it for the love of baking. Once you’ve been waking up at 4:30 in the morning to stand on your feet for eight hours a day for months, you really start to realize the truth of that statement!

Moldedchocs

I’m not trying to scare people or make professional pastry sound like a terrible job. On the contrary, I loved the experience. I loved being around sugar, butter, and chocolate, knowing I was being paid to bake all day long, thinking up new recipes to try, and going home knowing I had completed a satisfying day’s work. There’s a very visceral, immediate gratification to baking: you can pull a tray of cookies out of the oven and two minutes later see the expressions of delight on customers’ faces. You can look around the scrubbed-clean kitchen at the end of the day and see exactly all you’ve accomplished: it’s all there, on the racks and in the refrigerators, on the counters and in the display cases. Along with cooking, baking is one the few professions that is so clearly, and purely, dedicated to bringing happiness to people. How could that not give you the warm fuzzies?

Chocolatehazelnut

That all being said, I would be remiss in not noting that pastry quite a demanding profession. I also can’t ignore that fact that the cost of culinary and pastry schools are rising, which is especially worrying because of the low starting pay in most pastry jobs. That’s why I hesitate to just unequivocally tell everyone who has an interest in pastry to go to pastry school, without advising them to investigate all their options and examine their goals first.

My parents/family don’t support my goal of becoming a pastry chef. What should I do?

This is tough. I probably get this kind of question more than any other one. I should become a career counselor for some of these pastry schools! What you choose to do with your life is a very personal decision, and only you know what is best for you. If you read my paragraphs above, you already know that professional pastry is a very demanding profession that is unlikely to make you rich. At the same time, this is true of many jobs out there. If you choose a career that you think will make your parents happy, or make you a lot of money, but you don’t enjoy doing it, you might still end up dissatisfied with your life. It doesn’t mean you have to become a pastry chef. Maybe it means you bake at home as a hobby. Maybe it means you take weekend classes at a local school. Or maybe it means one day you decide to make a change and try a totally new career.

This is probably a non-exciting piece of advice, but for me I think doing as much research as possible will help you make the best decision, and help convince others around you. See the question below “All right, so what do you suggest if I’m interested in a career in pastry?” Do those two things I list in my answer. If you can demonstrate to your family that you really enjoy working in a bakery and have a talent for pastry, they may be more willing to support your career choice. If you can show that you have the funds to afford pastry school, or you’re able to get a scholarship or loan, you may also feel better about making the choice. Empower yourself. There are millions of people in the world who want to be a famous chef, or a rock star, or a CEO. The ones most likely to succeed are the ones who have a plan, work hard, and keep their eye on the goal.

In the end, you have to make your own decision about what is right for you, and you have to decide if it’s important enough for you to do it with or without the approval of your loved ones. I honestly think that most people would rather see their family/children being happy doing what they love, even if it means taking chances. Don’t live your life full of regrets for what you didn’t do because you were afraid.

What kind of qualifications do I need to go to pastry school? Do I need professional experience?

Please ask the admissions department of the specific schools in which you are interested. Applications requirements can vary greatly. However, most programs do not expect previous professional experience. If you already have some baking experience, whether personal or professional, it will of course help, but professional culinary programs are meant to provide a comprehensive curriculum covering the knowledge and skills you will need to enter the industry.

Also, I’ve gotten some e-mails asking how old you have to be to go to pastry school. Many pastry schools require a high school diploma or GED to apply. I may sound old or uncool here, but really, I think you should at least finish your high school education before going to pastry school. If you are 13 years old and know that you want to be a pastry chef, that’s great! Bake at home, work part-time at a local bakery, read as many cookbooks as you can. But finish school first before going to pastry school. You’ll appreciate it in the future.

What do you think of pastry school X? Can you recommend a pastry school for me?

I get a lot of e-mails asking what I think of various other pastry programs. Believe me, if I could make a career out of going around the world testing out different pastry schools, I would do it in a heartbeat!! However, the only pastry programs I have attended have been at Tante Marie’s, and at SFBI, which I also highly recommend as a more expensive but extremely well-done full time program.

8/7/13: A new professional pastry program has started at the San Francisco Cooking School – read my new post about it. I haven’t been to this school, but it’s very well regarded and sounds like another great option to consider.

I am not comfortable evaluating or recommending pastry programs of which I do not have firsthand knowledge. If you are curious about options in your area, a couple of suggestions: go to local cookware stores like Sur la Table and ask if they know about local pastry programs. Contact community colleges and see if they have any offerings. Finally, if you have a favorite bakery or restaurant, see if you can find out if the head baker/pastry chef has any advice (Warning: do not try to walk into a restaurant kitchen in the middle of dinner service and ask to speak with the pastry chef! They will be too busy to give you their full attention! A better approach is to see if there is contact information on the website or ask the host if there is a good way to contact the chef.)

If you are curious about a specific pastry school, see the next question for what you should consider in evaluating whether that school is right for you. Especially, visit the school and see what the classes are like (know what you’re paying for!!), and ask if the school has a list of alumni you might contact to ask about their experiences.

All right, so what do you suggest if I’m interested in a career in pastry?

I highly recommend doing the following two things:

1). Research all your options and make sure you find the right school for you. Culinary schools are getting more and more expensive these days, and pricier does not always mean better. There are many excellent pastry programs that are highly regarded and charge a hefty tuition, and rightfully so for the quality of their education. There also many pastry programs at smaller schools, or at local colleges, or at other institutions, that can also teach you a great deal, at a much lower cost. If your aim is to become a pastry chef at a four-star restaurant, a top-tier pastry school may well be worth the investment. If, on the other hand, you have a less technically rigorous goal such as starting your own home business, or a specialized goal like wedding cakes or catering, you might want to examine whether you still want or need to go to one of those top-flight schools, or whether there might be alternative programs that would suit your needs.  Let me note that this is not an intimation that some pastry career directions may require “lesser” educations, but more an extension of my belief that entering the pastry world should not necessarily entail taking on a large debt.

Strawberrysavarin

All right, financial issues aside, there are many other things to consider when choosing a pastry school. Who are the instructors? What are their qualifications? Who will your classmates be? What is the typical class makeup? What is the curriculum? How much actual lab time will you get? How will you be evaluated? What kind of certification will you get? Does the school offer job placement? If possible, go to the school and check out a few classes to see if you like the feel of the place. Even though I went to Tante Marie’s, I would still advise prospective pastry students to visit the school since Rachel no longer teaches there and I haven’t met the new instructor. And, of course, as with anything else you pursue in life, what you get out of your education is what you put into it. Tante Marie may not have been the biggest or best-known school, but all my classmates were so driven to get as much as they could out of the course, and Rachel went out of her way to be helpful and accessible, that I definitely felt I made the right choice.

Checkerboard

2). Try interning at a bakery or a restaurant to see what the job is like. Many places will take on unpaid interns, or stagieres, as they are sometimes called. In some places you may be directed to stand in an out-of-the-way spot and watch the kitchen during busy hours; other places will let you work alongside the staff on various tasks. This is by far the best way of finding out whether you will enjoy the job or not, and I am surprised that more people don’t do this before going to culinary or pastry school. You may find out, for instance, that you enjoy working in a fast-paced kitchen plating elaborate desserts, or in a bakery making bread in the wee hours of the morning, or at a caterer’s assembling platters of delicacies. You will learn a lot of practical knowledge from being around experienced chefs you won’t get in class – my pastry chef taught me tons of tricks she had accumulated over her years of working in restaurants. And once you’ve been in a working kitchen, you’ll go to school with a much greater appreciation for what you’ll learn and what you’ll want to learn.

Whew!

I hope this little guide has answered some of the most-asked questions I get on this site. To all of you who love baking, who are contemplating pastry school, a career in pastry, or just learning more about baking, I say good luck, happy baking, and get in the kitchen as often as you can! Feel free to leave more questions or comments on this page, and I’ll answer them as quickly as possible. I’ll also probably revise and update this page as I think of more things to say or get more questions to answer!

Certificate

138 Comments

138 Comments so far ↓

  • jenny #1

    This is very helpful, thanks. I think I’m on the right tracks. !now have basic culinary and basic pastry under my belt and intend to try to get some experience somewhere to see if I can handle working in a real kitchen. I intend to stay at my job, which is a great job and well paid for the moment.

  • Lili #2

    Thank you so much for sharing all these personal experience and your advice are very helpful. I am actually thinking about going to a pastry school. As you mentioned, the financial burden of going to a school is huge, especially for someone who is just out of university. Your post answered some of the questions I’ve always have but never get a chance to find out an answer or get to explore. I think I am more clear about what to do next. Thank you for sharing Anita! =)

  • Verena #3

    I’m glad that I asked you for advice about going to pastry school. Although I still don’t know if I will end up in a career in baking, I definitely didn’t regret going to pastry school. It opened my eyes to the pastry world and I learnt much more than just baking techniques.

    Most of all, it made me realize how much I love pastry-making. Thank you so much. :)

  • Astrid #4

    Thank you for sharing all this experience with us! It sounds like a wonderful experience, but also a tough life. Too bad we can’t have our cake and eat it too, a baking job as well as good pay! I also liked the photos very much.

  • Garrett #5

    I have actually been highly considering going to a part time pastry school here in Sacramento. I mainly want to go just to improve my own skills and for personal self growth, I dunno if I am made for a pastry job, but who knows? =)

  • Jen #6

    That picture of the strawberry savarin looks so good! Where can I find that recipe?? Thanks!

  • millie #7

    What a good explanation! I’ve been a long time reader but don’t think I’ve commented before. I was actually in the class just before yours at Tante Marie! All those pics bring back lots of memories.

    Keep up the great blog.

  • Mary #8

    Nice post. I, too, went to pastry school with similar intentions (after having moonlighted at a bread bakery to get the feel for it all). I’m 38 and single…and can’t quite afford the financial and physical sacrifices it would take right now to do it full time. I think my goal in the near future will be to pull my former careers more into line with something food related, as well as to keep teaching private/community classes, blogging, and feeding people on the side! It’s all become such a huge part of my life. I wish you continued success and enjoy your blog very much!

  • Roxanne Rieske #9

    FYI for anyone considering an education and/or career in Pastry Arts: You really don’t need to go to a pastry school. The American Culinary Federation sponsors apprenticeships all across the country. You get paid training and instruction, and the only expense to the student is textbooks and personal equipment. Of course, such an apprenticeship is pretty much a full-time job, and for some people the apprenticeship alone isn’t enough to live on.

    Also, many community colleges have culinary programs where the cost is about 1/4th the expense of a traditional culinary school.

    For myself, I went ahead and got a basic culinary education (an 18th month program), but the school did not have a dedicated pastry program, so after I graduated, I signed up for a 6-month paid apprenticeship for a more in depth baking and pastry education. That was nearly 9 years ago, and I’m still working in the baking & pastry field.

    Yes, it is extremely hard work, very physically demanding. The company I work for is constantly short staffed, so I regularly work about 50+ hours a week. I also work the graveyard shift, as my company is a bread bakery that also sells a ton of morning pastries, so we bake all night long.

    I’ve been doing this for so long, I’m now dealing with carpel tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow in my right arm, and I now have to wear orthotics in my shoes from being on my feet so much. I’m predicting that I’ll only be able to this kind of work for another 5-8 years maybe before my body finally says it’s had enough. And then I’ll need to find something else to do (It’s a good thing I have another college degree to use).

    My advice is that if you decide you absolutely truly love this kind of work (which I do or I wouldn’t still be doing it after 9 years), then go after it and work in the field for as long as you physically can and still enjoy it.

  • CocoaGal #10

    Fabulous posting! As a former pastry chef I get many of these question too. I advise those who are interested in the field to work in a kitchen or bakery before signing up for culinary school. It’ll help put many of the aspects you’ve talked about into prospective :)

  • diane nguyen #11

    I always want to go to pastry school in paris. but I had different path in my life.
    I use french cooking book his name is Jacque he cooks with julia child his book had taught me alot of pastry.
    i love your blog.
    continue your goal, i wish you all the luck. may be one day
    I will go to learn the basic skill

  • Thip #12

    This is such a great advice, Anita.

    As a Thai who grew up without baking skill at all, I was always curious about baking since I moved to live in San Francisco 6 yrs ago. Instead of continuing another accounting degree in the U.S., I decided to take a professional baking program at CCA for 8 months last year to persue my new goal.

    Like you said, what you get is what you put into it. This is really true.

  • Jessie #13

    Hi!

    I just found your website and I’m so glad I found this page! It answers so many questions I’ve had. I think after reading, I will go afterall, in a couple of years. I also really enjoyed reading many of your blog posts. Looking forward to reading more in the future!

    Jessie

  • Anita #14

    Hi Jenny,

    Thanks so much for writing and I’m glad this was helpful for you! I hope you get to try working at a bakery or restaurant and find out what direction you want to take!

    hi Lili,

    Thanks so much and I’m glad to be of help! It’s true that the cost of culinary/pastry school is getting to be really daunting, and I wanted to let people know that there are other ways to get into the industry besides paying lots of money. Good luck and let me know if you have other questions!

    Hi Verena,

    thanks so much for writing – I’ve enjoyed hearing about your pastry school adventures and I look forward to seeing where you’ll go next, no matter what you do!

    Hi Astrid,

    Thanks so much for writing! Yes, it’s too bad that most professional pastry positions are not that well compensated – it makes me admire those who stick with it all the more! But we can still enjoy baking even if it’s not our career!

    Hi Garrett,

    Hey, great to hear about your pastry plans! Even if you don’t plan to become a pastry chef, it’s always great to keep learning – and you can have the confidence of saying you’ve been professionally trained! let me know how it goes!!

    Hi Jen,

    The strawberry savarin was something I made in pastry school – I don’t think I’ve gotten around to re-making yet! The recipe isn’t on my site, but I’m sure if you do a search on the internet you’ll be able to find basic savarin recipes you can adapt!

    Hi Millie,

    It’s great to hear from another Tante Marie grad! You had Rachel too, right? I think I stopped by the class one time. Are you baking in the Bay Area still? thanks so much for writing!!

    Hi Mary,

    Thanks so much for writing! I think the great thing about pastry today is that people are realizing there are other things to do with a love for pastry besides just becoming a baker – there are so many opportunities! Good luck with your goals as well and let me know what happens with you!

    hi Roxanne,

    Thank you so much for visiting my site and leaving such a thoughtful post! I really appreciate feedback from people in the industry – it will make this page much more useful! I’m also glad that you wrote in to say that it’s not necessary to go to pastry school to enter the pastry profession – it really concerns me that young people are spending thousands of dollars to go to school, not realizing the reality of what working in a bakery is like or that they could be heavily in debt after they graduate. Thanks so much for adding your voice and encouraging people to explore the pastry career thoroughly before entering it!

    Hi CocoaGal,

    Thank you so much for writing in – I’m really appreciating the feedback from others in the industry! I’m glad to see that my experiences from even my short time working in a bakery are matching up with those of long-time veterans! I really think people should try working in a bakery or restaurant before going to pastry school, and I’m always surprised when they don’t – I’m afraid they’ll be in for a rude awakening after school! Thanks so much for contributing your advice!

    Hi Diane,

    I’m glad you enjoy baking as well! I think baking from good cookbooks is also a great way to learn – keep it up!

    Hi Thip,

    That’s great! Are you finished with the program yet? I bet you must have had a great time! I really miss my days in pastry school!

    Hi Jessie,

    Thanks for visiting and I’m so glad I could be of help! Pastry school can be a great place to learn new skills and be around like-minded pastry lovers! Good luck and let me know how things go!

  • Alyssa #15

    I’ve been meaning to write you and ask about your time and experience in pastry school, and then I check your site today (it’s been a while, I know, I know :D) and see that you’ve written a post dedicated to the very subject that I’ve been tinkering with for the past year.

    Your post really helped in cementing my desire to pursue an education and career in baking. I absolutely love baking, and even just to learn about it without going forth in a career afterwards would be just fine. You broke down the components of choosing and picking the right school for an interested baker, and I may just have to take notes as future reference, hah!

    I’m really glad (and grateful) that you’ve decided to create a page dedicated solely to pastry school and a path in the baking career. It’s definitely opened my eyes even more and made me want to endure the challenges that may come!

    Thanks!

  • Tetta #16

    I am greatly impacted by your posting ” want to go to pastry school”. I am where you were 5 years ago – in a non-baking job wondering what I would try out this week end. Infact , I am baking a carrot sheet cake this weekend for friend’s daughter.
    Pastry school is a dream but an expensive one. I have decided to bake and sell pastries every major holiday to raise at least the 1st semester’s tuition.

  • CulinaryAnthropologist #17

    Hi

    I wanted to let readers know that the current pastry chef teaching the professional pastry programme at Tante Marie’s – Jennifer Altman – is FANTASTIC too!

    After completing the full-time professional culinary programme at Tante Marie’s I spent nearly 2 months assisting Jennifer when she took up the job, and also occasionally working with her at Bay Wolf, where she is the pastry chef. She is hugely talented, and her classes are informative, friendly and professional. She is a treasure trove of baking information!

    I watched her first class progress over their 6 months – the majority had never been anywhere near a professional kitchen before, but by the end the standard of their baking products was outstanding. It was a joy to watch!

    Your post is spot on I think, and very good advice for people considering their options. Everything you write about Tante Marie’s chimes well with my experiences there (as a student, assistant teacher and occasional teacher!)

    Frances Wilson, the chef instructor for the full-time culinary programme, is also a fantastic teacher. Any student would be lucky to work with either of these of wonderful people.

    Cheers, Anna

  • Krisma #18

    Wow! Thanks for your post! I’ve been thinking about going the pastry/baking world for a few years now and this post just convinced me! Thanks so much! :D

  • Anita #19

    Hi Alyssa,
    Thanks so much for writing in, and I’m so happy that this article was helpful to you! I know going to pastry school is a big decision, and when I was considering it I wished there were more resources for me to learn about professional pastry. Good luck to you and let me know how things turn out!

    hi Tetta,
    Thanks for writing in! I know, pastry school can seem like a expensive and daunting prospect. Actually, baking a lot at home is also a great way to learn about pastry! You can also see if there is a local bakery where you might be able to volunteer or work part time, to learn more as well. Good luck!

    Hi Anna,
    Thanks so much for writing in – contributions from other professionals like you will help make this page much more useful for others! I’m glad to hear the pastry program at Tante Marie’s is in good hands, and that you had a positive experience!

    hi Krisma,
    Thanks you much! I’m glad I could help out with your choice! Good luck and let me know how things go!

  • Mark Juan #20

    If Pastry School taught me how to make all of those at a relatively inexpensive price, then yes I want to attend Pastry School. Right now if possible.

  • Janet Link #21

    Your website is beautiful! Do you have any suggestions for a less intensive pastry course for a 51-year-old full-time Mom, part-time journalist? We live in Montclair, NJ, so anything in our area or in the city would be of interest. I love to cook and bake, but just for family and friends!
    PS….I’m in the process of starting a blog on a topic near and dear to my heart from my pre-Mom career days: energy (how to conserve energy in your home/workplace etc. and how to understand all the energy/ environmental issues that are out there). I realize it’s a topic far removed from yours, but I still found your site inspiring. Thanks!

  • Lisa Hoffman #22

    Wonderful article. Congratulations. Could you please recommend any pastry course (1 or 2 months) where I could study and also receive a certificate for this particular class?

    I live in Florida but am willing to travel. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  • Christina #23

    I took a recreational class at ICE in NYC. It was 1x/week for 12 weeks, 5 hr classes (included dinner). The cost (~$1400) was feasible & gave you a taste of everything. Breads, tarts, chocolates, cakes, cookies. It was a great experience to dabble in the pastry world & see if you truly love it. Just a thought for those on the East Coast. :)

    Thanks, Anita, for sharing your experiences with us. I look forward to reading more of your yummy blogs. :)

  • Jane #24

    What a helpful, articulate, and encouraging article. I’m so glad I found it. (I’m currently in a baking and pastry arts program at a local culinary studies institute in a community college, but have not yet worked professionally nor interned in a bakery/pastry shop setting, so your post is right up my alley. Food for thought!)

    I really love your site. Your photos are just beautiful and your prose is always fun and interesting to read. Keep doing what you’re doing!

    Jane
    http://www.janessweets@blogspot.com

  • Xochi #25

    Thanks for that helpful advice.
    I’m only 15 and my parents decided to give me some buisness cards for my birthday and a few more hightech baking stuff, even my own small room/closet under the stairs to put all my things. !
    So yeah, I’ve made a few hundred dollars already baking dozens of cookies, pastries and pies for my parent’s coworkers. It’s the most amazing thing in the world to bake. I’m 100% sure it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. So if anyone has any advice, please email me with some, or anything else you might find handy.
    xochir@cox.net

  • BarbF #26

    Hi Anita — reading your post here was like taking a walk down memory lane for me. I went to Tante Marie in 2001 & completed the pastry program. Worked for several months at Masse’s Pastries in No. Berkeley and did some work on my own before returning to my “real job” in corp America (where I still am today). I still bake a lot — no blog, tho — I’d love to do it, but I don’t know how you guys find the time!! I loved seeing your pics — I have so many of the same ones, going all through the course at TM. & — hold on — I ALSO had a business called … “Dessert First”. I’ll have to send you a pic of myself at the farmers mkt, with my little banner up. Love all your stuff — keep baking!!!

    Cheers!
    Barb Florin

  • Bessie Yap-Sarmiento #27

    Thank you very much for sharing us that kind of information!!! I really admire your dedication and creativity.

    I enjoy baking and love to share it with family and friends… they love it too! :)

  • Rosmarina #28

    Hi, Pastrygirl, you have been so much kind posting these information! I would ask something to you… I write from Italy, I’m a nineteen “baker”. I’m attending university, but after graduation I’d love to fly to England and work in a bakery for a while. Well, would it be possible to be recruited in a bakery without a degree in pastry? Would they make me work for free, would they engage me as a baker after a while if I show that I’m ok for that job, would they simply engage me, or it is very hard to happen?… I’d like to attend a pastry school, but I imagine that it would be a little difficult for me to do it in a new country, with a little money. Would it be better to take a degree here in Italy and then go to England?…
    Thank you so much. It has been so pleasent to read this post, it’s very helpful for pastry lovers! :)

  • Rachel #29

    I’ve been considering taking a pastry course for some time and your blog post is very compelling. I’m convinced. I’ve been evaluating Tante Marie’s, too, so the background in the course (although I am thinking about the six-week course to start) was helpful. What finally convinced you to leave your higher-paying office position to bake full time? Very impressive – thanks for blogging about your experience.

  • Jessica #30

    Hey!
    I am very glad to find this website and it really helped me to decide on an internship :D Thanks!
    ~Jessica

  • PassionateMae #31

    Thanks Anita. This is so helpful, everytime i visit a site, it always makes me curious and want to find the answer to my questions, like how you did above. thank you and please update this page if you’ve got more advice. it is very much appreciated.

    thanks.

    btw, i’m from Sydney, Australia.

  • PassionateMae #32

    please write more..

  • Sue #33

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I really love reading your blog and looking at your beautiful photos. I’m a bit timid, though, to attempt some of these recipes. Would you have any suggestions for baking classes targeted for home bakers that, like you initially, just want to learn more? I have 2 kids and work full-time, so anything like the Tante Marie course is just too time-consuming for me.

  • Steph #34

    Hi Anita,
    I’ve had a rough time lately trying to take pastry classes and working at an actual bakery. Today was kind of the tipping point when my boss told me I need to straighten myself out because I’m not doing my job well enough. I still love what I do, and if anything, today’s situation has renewed my motivation to be the best I can be. True, I don’t get enough sleep and I’m on my feet and in a kitchen for 8-10 hours a day, but nothing beats the feeling of making something with your own two hands and seeing someone else’s delight after eating it. Recently I feel a bit overwhelmed by my schedule and am contemplating taking a break from school to work. Hearing encouraging words from others is helping me pull through. Thank you so much for your insight and inspiration. : ) Your blog is always one of the highlights of my day!

  • Steph #35

    Hi Anita,
    I read this post at a good time today because lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by my pastry courses and working at an actual bakery. The tipping point came today when my boss told me I’m not doing my best at work and I need to straighten myself out. I wasn’t surprised by this as I’ve been feeling worn out lately and unfocused. But still, despite the lack of sleep and energy and the 10 hour days (though they might be longer), I love what I do. Making something with my own hands and seeing someone else enjoy it and take delight in eating it, that’s the nicest feeling. Reading this post has reminded me of where I want to be, and hearing encouraging words from others has definitely helped. Thank you for your insight and inspiration. Your blog is one of the highlights of my day! : )

  • Debbie #36

    This is so informative and I really appreciate the time you took to share with everyone your experience!

  • Janice #37

    This probobly will sound like the most stupidest question ever but do you need to know how to speak and write french fluently to go to a french pastery school……?

  • pastrygirl #38

    Janice,

    No, you don’t need to know French, unless you’re going to a pastry school in France! Even then, I believe there are schools in France that teach in both English and French, but you would have to check – and I imagine if you were going to school in France it would be to your advantage to know a little French at least. But the major pastry programs here in the US would be held in English.

  • Linda Baron #39

    Thank-you for this website. I was almost ready to move with my chihuahua, Bruce, to some unknown parts of Florida, with outrageous prices for schools with unknown chefs, with tuition exceedingly unaffordable. Worse part was, they didn’t have a place for anyone my age, 51. I was baking before they were born. I would enjoy bread baking skills, and decorating cakes, ie, piping, sugar art…..signed, out to pasture

  • Lainey #40

    Pastry girl hello : ) this is the first time i’ve been to your blog and i find it really lovely and informative!! I’m from Hong Kong and would like to go somewhere else and attend a pastry program too. Do you have any recommendations for me??

    Keep writing!! Thanks so much!!

  • Hana #41

    Hello! I stumbled upon this blog after looking up some information on pastry chefs. After reading this, I felt a lot better. I have no experience with making pastries and my mother has been constantly asking me if I really want to go to culinary school, which has been making me wonder if I should. I will try and find a job where I can have a better understanding of it all and I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to type all this up. ^_^

  • Hanna #42

    I am a senior in high school and I have always dreamt of being a pastry chef and opening my own small business. I was worried and freaking out about financial issues and the fact that there seems to be no schools close to me. I think, now after reading this, I don’t have much to worry about. I think I will just take some local classes here and there and bake bake bake! My family already thinks they are sick of sweets but they have no idea what is in store for them :) thank you. Your advice was helpful

  • Joanna #43

    Anita, This is what I have been searching for for months, thank you so much for writing all of your thoughts down about your experience and your advise. I’ve been researching programs for a long time and (I’m pretty sure) have decided on an accredited program through a community college. I have been putting off going for a site visit but will do it now!

    I too work full time (at a nonprofit in the East Bay) but want to make the move back into the crazy life in a kitchen (used to work at a grill place) and connecting with like-minded people in the East Bay.

    Thanks again, this was so wonderful to read!

  • Moe Yay Sat #44

    Miss Pastry Girl) it’s really great to hear about your story and i’m really appreciate all of your advices. So let me say thank you very much.
    Actually the job what i’m doing now is not to my interest and i’m always looking for an opportunity to become a pastry chef.
    But i still couldn’t find out any opportunity to learn pastry.
    If possible i really would like to learn at somewhere else even though it can offer me a very lowly salary or at some pastry school no matter how hard it is.
    Currently i’m working as a Hotel Receptionist in Qatar and as far as i know there is no other such pastry school.

    Could you please kindly give me some advice how to implement my dream come true as i’m so passionate about pastry.

    Many thanks
    Peter

  • Deb Schiff #45

    Hey Anita,
    I’ve got a ton of chocolate molds I’m trying to sell online at EBay. Some are quite lovely. Would you be able to let your friends know? I’d give shipping rebates to people who purchase more than one.
    Thanks!

  • Debbie #46

    I found this very helpful – very well written and insightful, and you covered both the glam and not so glam aspects of becoming a baker. I also appreciated your cautiousness around giving advice. Great blog!

  • courtney dixon #47

    hello pastry girl im only 13 but when im older my dream is to be like you , you have been such an insperation i have been baking cakes and othere deserts since i was about 4 i love it and i hope i can make a good living out of it:}

  • Marizela Echenique #48

    Hello Anita,

    This is the first time I read your blog. I came across it looking for different recipes for my nieces birthday party. Your blog has really caught my attention, especially since I was a student at Le Cordon Bleu Miami. I didn’t do my research before starting this school, I was enthusiastic about baking, cooking and I was young, so they got me(money wise)! I am now so in debt with this school it’s not even funny! I don’t regret going to Culinary Arts school & I have to admit that was the best time I had going to school. What I don’t like is the amount of money I owe now, but I guess it was worth it. I went mainly for baking & pastry but at the time I enrolled they didn’t have a baking & pastry program all they had was two baking classes in the whole program. I know a few things about baking but I know I still have a lot to learn and I would love to learn more about baking, chocolates, puff pastry, candy, ect.. Anything that is sweet or has to do with desserts I want to learn more about. I am more passionate about baking than I am about cooking, and I would love to pursue a career as a pastry chef, or just open up a small bakery on my own. The only thing that is kind of conflicting is, I’m not a morning person at all! So waking up at 3 or 4 in the morning is not gonna happen. I wouldn’t mind staying up till 3 or 4 in the morning. There are a lot of factors holding me back from pursuing my dream as a pastry chef: I’m 30 years old, I have 3 kids (ages:14,7,3) plus a husband, I am a full time employee in an office an 1 away from my house, and I am also a full time student (business administration;boring!). I make a pretty good living where I am currently working and I’m comfortable here but I feel like I’m tired of this routine life! I have a desk job; boring! I wanna do something I love! I think most of all I’m scared because I have a stable job now and my family needs this but at the same time I don’t feel fulfilled. Sorry if I keep dragging this on and on but I need suggestions, comments, advise from somebody/anybody that loves to bake as much as I do! Any suggestions, or advise you can give me for my complicated, convoluted situation? I would really appreciate it.

    Thank you,

    Mari

  • Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood #49

    If you are interested in the culinary school side of the equation, I wrote the book on it: Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood link to amzn.to

  • Patricia #50

    I am excited by your story. I have interviewed a number of culinary school students and find a mix of motivations for pursuing a degree in baking and pastry, one thing in common is they all are passionate about baking and pastry and are willing to make the career change for it (if they are a career changer). Culinary Institute LeNotre

  • Nisa Koolkaas #51

    Hi Anita,
    I love your website. Its very inspirational to all who are passionate about the art of pastries and cakes. I am new to blogging about food and desserts but its getting there. I have had 22 years of working on shifts in an airline company and finally left my job in 2007, now I am à full time housewife. I took up some courses on cake and bread foundation to know more techniques so I do some orders from home. I am thinking of taking à more intensive course to know an in depth about pastries. I have plenty of books at home, meanwhile I use The Professional Pastry Chef book as my reference by Bo Friburg and Larousse Gastronomique for food. My husband is very supportive hè is the one who got me these books and others to refer to. He thinks I have potential to go further. I am still deciding on that, because I have commitments. So thanks for sharing your
    thoughts and experience, I truly appreciate it.

  • Ruth #52

    Hi Anita ,

    I’ve always wanted to go to pastry school and you’ve helped me out with your blog :)

    But, I don’t exactly plan on living off of baking even though I love it so much , and I really don’t have any skills :$ but instead I just wanted to open a bakery and gain some skills while working as a business woman. I plan on taking business – related courses at Harvard or another school , but I also want to go to pastry school in France or another school (maybe the one you went to) and so I’m not sure if it’s a good idea or not ?

    I really do want to do what I said above ^ but I’m not sure if it’s a good idea or do I have to spend all my time dedicated to baking ?

    because I want a job that would be able to not only help me and make me happy but to help my family as well .. well I hope i get a reply (;

    and I love your blog !
    keep it up (:

    • Mario #53

      Excellent blog, thank you for posting, and hello Ruth…

      You have a very good idea and hope you do open a bakery. Bakeries always work. No matter what happens in the world, people will want to eat bread etc. Tricky thing is though, as owner of the bakery you will have to understand what baking is all about. But that’s easy to achieve. When you own a bakery, companies which supply you with flour and all the other pastry products that you will need, they also supply hands on training.

      My mother owned a bakery,and that’s how I got my very first training. And stuck to it for 17 years after that before becoming a chocolatier and pastry chef.

      All the best, and good luck. You can contact me for more info if you like:))

      • Ruth #54

        Forgive me for being super late, but it still is my dream to open up a bakery. I’ve been working on my business courses so that I wouldn’t have any trouble with managing a bakery.

        But, I’m still debating on whether I should go to a pastry school. I’ve been confused but would I have to go to these pastry schools straight out of high school or if I can go to another University first before attending the pastry school? I’m really more concerned about paying the tuition and everything and so I want to get a job first before going.

        Thank you for helping me out though, do you work in a bakery still? Is it fun working as a chocolatier and pastry chef? :) I hope you would reply, though I’m 2 years late haha :$

        • Anita #55

          Hi Ruth,

          You are not late, I am still getting tons of comments on this post! I would check with the specific pastry school you want to apply to, but in general I would recommend you finish high school before going to pastry school. Many students go directly into pastry school after high school, but there is nothing keeping you from going to university first and then going to pastry school. Many culinary schools today are seeing more and more older students (I myself went to college and worked for a few years before going to pastry school). I think it is a good thing to get as much education as possible – especially as you are planning to open your own bakery, it’s smart to take some business courses as most pastry schools do not cover the business aspect and that’s where many people run into trouble!

          So I think you could go either way, either pastry school first or university first depending on your situation and/or priorities. I might also suggest working in bakery for a bit, it might help you figure out exactly what you need to learn to run a bakery and will help you focus and choose the courses you need to take. Good luck!

  • double9 #56

    hey, can i know what are the qualifications needed to enter a baking course such as the ones you entered. are there any certificates or degrees needed? what if i have none of those but just passion for baking? ):

    • Anita #57

      Hi Double9,

      The qualifications vary from school to school – you can ask the admissions department of the places you are interested. In general, these programs are for adults, so I imagine they would expect you to have finished high school. Usually they do not expect any professional training or experience – that’s what you’re going to school for!

  • Marieke Albers #58

    Loved reading your story! Could you give me advise on what textbooks will give me professional information about patisserie and baking? It’s so hard to find any between all the hobby books out there.
    Thanks, Marieke

    • Anita #59

      Hi Marieke,

      Take a look at my amazon store (upper right hand corner of my website) and click on “Professional” – I’ve recommended several books that are geared towards a professional pastry education. Good luck!

  • blackcat #60

    HELLO!! this really help me make up my mind about becoming a Patisserie :) but one problem that i wanted to ask and hope that it’s possible,,,,,I’m 14 and i was wondering if i could start pastry at my age?maybe a pastry school that i can cook and have ordinary classes? thank you for a response :)

    • Anita #61

      Hi blackcat,

      I think most pastry school programs are meant for adults, so you would probably have to be 18, or maybe 16 depending on where you live. I would finish your high school/secondary school education before you go to pastry school – it’s valuable to have that schooling as well!

    • Melanie #62

      Blackcat,

      Sometimes local community colleges have pastry programs – maybe you could dual enroll and take a couple courses there while you finish high school. Something to look in to!

  • Zee #63

    Thank you so much for your write up. I have long thought about going to pastry school but didn’t think to ask myself some of the questions you posed. Thank you for sharing your heart and information with us!

  • harman grewal #64

    hi i am harman from india actually iam very interested in becoming a bakery chef ur guidlines have helped me a lot do you thing liason culinary school would be good for m e?

  • Stuart Rubenstein #65

    I just want to thank you so much for sharing such wonderful recipes and photo’s of the fantastic baking techniques you have displayed for the public. Keep up the great work!!

    Stuart

  • Celina #66

    Hi Anita!

    Greetings from Manila, Philippines! I love reading your blog and was truly inspired reading this particular one. I am arriving in San Francisco in a couple of weeks and I am curious if I can get a one-week internship in a bakery or a restaurant, its alright if I am not going to be paid. Is it possible? Many thanks and keep on blogging :D

  • aubrey #67

    Hi

    I am Aubrey i am a baker i am now 30 years of age and started my career in baking when i was seventeen all these years i was looking for a place to study and get a degree in bakery Management and Supervising if u can give me advice on how to do it i will be much great full.
    i also wants to open my own bakery soon enough

  • Anita #68

    Zee and Stuart,

    Thank you so much for your kind words! They mean a lot to me!

    Harmon,

    I’m afraid I don’t know what liason culinary school is. I would find out what culinary schools are in India and ask them for advice.

    Celina,

    I don’t organize internships, unfortunately. If you are interested in working with a particular bakery or restaurant, I would contact them directly and see if they have opportunities. They may be at least willing to have you come visit or observe. Good luck!

    Aubrey,

    I’m afraid I don’t know about bakery management and supervising – I would research hospitality and restaurant management programs and see if they fit what you need. Good luck!

  • Nicole #69

    This article was very helpful for me. I am a high school senior and I am interested in a career in baking. I have a passion for baking, but I am unsure if I am ready for pastry school. When you start school how much knowlege about baking do you need to have. I just follow recipes when I bake, but at school do you need to know how to create things without a recipe? Thank you so much!

    • Anita #70

      Hi Nicole,

      No, pastry school will give you the recipes to follow in the curriculum. If you’ve already been baking at home, that’s great, you’ll already have experience in reading and following recipes. Good luck!

  • sara #71

    Hello, and thank you so much for your wonderful story and sharing your thoughts and experience! I have been thinking of taking some pastry courses to open up a small part time business from my home, would you be able to recommend any good courses in the San Francisco Bay area? I will also look into Tante Marie’s as you mentioned but I dont want to attend an extremely high end one right now as I dont intend to work in a restaurant or bakery. Thanks so much :)

    • Anita #72

      Hi Sara,

      If you are just looking for a short cooking course, Tante Marie’s does offer one day speciality classes. SFBI also offers one week courses on different topics like breads, cakes, etc. I would also check into your local community colleges or cooking stores like Williams Sonoma to see if they offer any classes. Good Luck!

  • Sara #73

    Thanks for the advice and input, I will definitely look into those. Unfortunately William Sonoma doesnt offer pastry courses…maybe Wilton might.

  • Roxanne #74

    Hello, I’m looking for some advice on which pastry school to go to. I’m currently living in the Toronto area and was told that the Bonnie Gordon school of confectionary arts is a good school. Do you have any knowledge of this school or have any suggestions?

    • Anita #75

      Hi Roxanne,

      I’m afraid I only know about the schools I listed in my post – I’ve never been to Toronto! But I suggest you visit this school and see if you like it – talk to the teachers and students and get a feel for the place to help you make a decision. Good luck!

  • Dipsy Marte #76

    How many years did you have to go to pastry school ? Do they give you like your diploma and degree/license for that ? Answer ASAP please !

    • Anita #77

      Hi Dipsy,

      In my post I mentioned that it is a six month program and I received a diploma at the end of it. Thanks!

  • janice #78

    Thanks. You covered a lot of infomation. It helped me to make a decision about baking as a hobby or as a career. you. Happy Baking!

  • nicole #80

    wow this is the first time i have been on your website and i love everything i have read…i have always off and on baked with my mom or by myself and just recently have decided that i love baking and i have always wanted to do something that made people happy and i am considering going to school at a community college possibly in the fall to take a course for baking….since i still somewhat consider myself a beginner/ intermediate baker im trying to better my skills and explore the amazing different ways that you can make things to bake…any websites or recipes that can help with that?? thank you!!

    • Anita #81

      Nicole,
      Well, there are a lot of recipes on my site – and many other great baking sites out there! You can click on my links to see some. You can also go to my astore and I have a list of “Great intros to Baking” books for beginner bakers. Good luck!

  • Divya #82

    Hi Anitta,
    This is the second time I’m going through your blog. I loved reading it and your story is so inspiring. I too love baking and had always wished to attend a baking class, but no one is providing baking classes at my place.. Have you ever thought of starting your on baking school…..

    • Anita #83

      Hi Divya,

      Thanks so much! I appreciate the vote of confidence but I don’t think I could start my own school – I have been teaching a few classes at my old pastry school though, and who knows, maybe I’ll be able to teach elsewhere someday too!

  • Sara #84

    Yes Anita, please start your own baking classes!!

  • Divya #85

    I wish i too could go for a baking course, but alas we don’t have any at my place. And i had not even tasted most of the items that u mentioned in your blog and we don’t get most of the ingredients at our place..My dream to learn baking is so far from my reach…huhh….

  • Tseten #86

    Hi ,
    your experience sounds wonderful.. I have been thinking about joining a pastry school, since the schools you’ve mentioned is in the US only, Could you provide me some information regarding the pastry schools in Asia especially, South Korea, if there are any that you know of. I am stuck in a life where I know what i really want to do, but am not able to do so. I am on my way of doing PhD, which I really don’t think I want to do, not gonna make me happy.
    Please give me any information that you might have regarding my question. Thank YOu,. You seem to have a wonderful life, always smile…and help me smile…:) god bless.

    • Anita #87

      Hi Tseten,

      Thank you for such a kind e-mail and I wish you the best in your career! I really don’t know that much about baking schools in Asia – I have never been to South Korea, although I’d love to go! If you are looking to study Western/French style pastry, the best places to go are probably Japan or Singapore, as they have adapted to that style the most. I don’t know of specific schools though, so you’ll have to do a little research on your own. Good luck!

  • Taylor #88

    Hello,
    I have always wanted to pursue in the Baking and Pastry Arts and I have done some research about it but have never actually tried to bake anything or gone to see what it’s like in the kitchen. I was wondering if you have any advice for a 14 year old who loves this profession and what span of basics I should try out before going to school. I really love this blog and it’s really helpful for me~!

    • Anita #89

      Hi Taylor,

      I gave some tips in my post above that you might be able to follow. Bake as much as you can at home – find as many cookbooks as you can to try. See if a local bakery is willing to take you on as a volunteer – be sure your parents check whether this is ok or not. Try out as many local bakeries as possible so you learn more about all kinds of desserts. The more you know, the more prepared you’ll be for pastry school! Good luck!

  • Sonja #90

    I am 48 yrs old with 1 kid in uni and another in high school. I sell my home baked cakes and am desperate to go to a catering school. Just like you said – to learn the tricks of the trade and to learn about costing etc. I want to eventually open my own little coffee shop BUT the fees here are EXHORBITANT. 1 year catering school = 2 years uni for my kid. I want to cry!!

    • Anita #91

      Hi Sonja,

      Sorry to hear about your difficulties. Culinary school is indeed very expensive so it’s best to do some research and see what you actually need to learn and if it’s worth it. For example, if you already make your own cakes, do you want to learn how to make other things? Maybe you only need to take a couple specialty classes and not the full course? Or maybe you want to take a few business classes instead to learn how to run your own business? You might also see if you can volunteer for a caterer or bakery – you can learn a lot that way without having to pay for school Good luck and best wishes for your dreams to come true!

  • paula #92

    my dream is to open my own baking business . but im not sure how to run one, do you think i should go to a bakery and ask if i could observe how they run their business or what should i say

    • Anita #93

      Hi Paula,

      You can certainly go a to local bakery and ask them a few questions, but I don’t think you should expect anymore to give away all the secrets of their business! If you’re serious about starting a business, the best answer is probably to take some business classes, or to find a partner who knows about business. I’m not sure if anyone can summarize how to start a business in just a few sentences. What those bakeries might be able to help you with is if you are curious where they get their ingredients or equipment from, or if they can suggest a good local pastry/business school. Good luck!

  • Lazziz #94

    I love pastry,bakery i hope can learn baking from you…

  • ihuoma #95

    God bless you for this.I think I am wiser now.You do not know how this has steered me in the right direction.May you begin to make more money out of baking.

  • danielle #96

    thank you so much for this valuable information. I am doing the same thing right now, we may become unemployed soon and I want to find something that I’m happy with. All I can think about when I wake up is baking. I just want to make sure these schools are the right ones for me. so thank you so much for your knowledge and I’m going to try to get out there to school asap!

  • Sammie #97

    I can’t thank you enough for this post. It’s so great to learn about the pros and cons of this profession. A lot of times, people want to jump into pastry school not weighing the benefits and costs first.. Great insight!!

  • jesuismoi #98

    Thank you so much for this post! I have loved baking all my life and am trying to find a way to start a career! Tante Marie seems like a good school, maybe I’ll enroll in the pastry class when I get out of college!
    ~Thanks again!
    Je Suis Moi :)

  • Charisma #99

    This helped me alot,as to i wanna become a pastry chef.Thank you very much:)

  • Coral #100

    If you love baking, but you do have a specialized goal, such as wedding cakes/fondant/decorating, is there a way to get experience without going to pastry school? What would you recommend be the steps in pursuing that?

    • Anita #101

      Hi Coral,

      Good question! There are specialized courses – Wilton is very well known for their cake decorating courses, and I believe they hold them around the country. Many culinary schools will also offer single-subject courses – when you are researching schools, look at their whole catalog. There are usually one-day or one-week classes devoted to particular topics. Or ask the bakers at your local bakeries where they learned their skills and if they know of any local classes. Good luck!

  • sarah london #102

    OMG!!! Congratulation Dear.
    I really want to be a pastry chef.

  • Dina #103

    Ahhh your stuff looks amazing and I bet it tastes the same as well. I find all I do around my house is bake for my family and friends and seeing the smile on their face makes me happy. I applied to a community college for baking (and I got accepted to start in September) . I envision myself someday opening up my own bakery. I love the idea of working with sugar all day long along making desserts that make the world happy. Reading all the comments and yours makes me see all the pros and cons about it though. I find the pros outweigh the cons. I hope everyone else who is interested in this career pursues it. A way to not get burnt out is to just work and then when you feel stressed out etc take a vacation lol

  • Gretapollard #104

    I love baking and have started my own business but I still need to learn more at 50 am I too old to go back to school or should I just do it anyway

    • Anita #105

      Hello Greta,

      You are never too old to go to pastry school! If you already have a lot of experience though, you may not need to go to a full course, or if you only want to learn about specific topics, you might look for short, week-long courses or seminars instead to help you learn exactly what you need. You are the best judge of what you need to know! Good luck!

  • Jess Marvel #106

    Hi Anita!

    I’m pretty sure I’ve read this entry over 10 times :) I am currently waiting to receive my application from Tante Marie’s for the fall semester. I am a little older going into it at 30 but I’ve worked many different kinds of jobs (administrative, retail, wedding photographer) and nothing gives me more pleasure than baking. It’s something my mom and I always did together and like you when I was working at the office I was wondering what I could bake up over the weekend. I did work for a year as a baker in a cupcake shop and loved it. I know it wasn’t as challenging as a pastry chef’s job but I am glad I have that bit of experience.
    My question doesn’t really have much to do with pastry school itself but actually more to do with how to get there…literally. I live in Laguna Hills, CA right now and my husband and I only moved here a year and a half ago from Indianapolis, IN. Moving to SF is kind of a huge thing for us. I have one pretty good friend who lives in East Bay and recommends living in Emeryville while we are there. We are considering the bakery lofts because of their affordability, the fact that they allow pets (we have 1 dog and two cats), they have gated parking and also my friend lives near by. I have never been to SF before and have never had to take public transportation on a regular basis. I am pretty sure there is local transportation to the Bart from the lofts but I also know that the bart doesn’t really run by Tante Marie’s. I am not sure how to figure out how to get to the school from there. I have also read negative things about the Muni and I’m not even sure if that’s something that would get me to the school. Another option is that my husband could take me and pick me up from
    School. He works from home and is off at 2 everyday. Do you have any advice on navigating the city to get to class? Is Emeryville a bad choice? I just really liked the idea of having a friend near by in a large city. Your advice would be greatly appreciated from a smaller town gal :)

    Thanks so much!

    Jess

  • Alexandra #107

    Hi!
    it’s really nice of you to write about this matter, lots of people are fascinated by tv shows and think about going to culinary/pastry schools lately. A culinary career is a hard one, you work a lot, have little reward and little time for yourself and family. I’m from Portugal and when i thought about going to a culinary school i searched the internet and my eyes couln’t believe it when i saw the prices out there! Here in Portugal the tuition fees are ridiculously LOW compared with other countries! I paid around 922$ for 1year course with internship. Our schools belong to the Government so its cheap, and you can share a room for little money in the facility.

    • Anita #108

      Hi Alexandra,

      Thanks for writing in and for sharing your pastry experiences in Portugal. I would love to see what pastry classes are like in other countries compared to the US. It is true that culinary school is quite pricey in many places, that’s why I suggest those interested in going take the time to research the field and make sure it’s the career they want before they go to school!

    • Rachel #109

      Alexandra (post #105), could you please tell me which pastry school in Portugal you went to? And a short review of your experience, maybe? I would appreciate it very much! :)

  • Li Chin #110

    Hi Anita,

    I have been browsing through your blog for a while now, but just saw this post of yours. I wish i could go to other country to learn more about pastry, I’m from Malaysia and it’s really hard to find a proper pastry school here. I love baking, but could not afford to study overseas. I actually thought of finding a pastry job overseas and so i could learn from there, but now it’s all about qualification and certification so i read as many blog as i could about pastry. It’s very nice of you to share your thoughts with us. Thank you!

  • Mey #111

    Although I am only just a 12 year old, the words you spoke really touched me. I’m pretty set on being a pastry chef when I graduate high school. I just adore baking & seeing how happily it affects my friends and family. I’ve viewed alot of options for the future but I’m still so confused of where to go and just how much money I will be able to put in for my classes. To be honest, I don’t really have so much support for my choice of career from my family. You see, my whole family is….well, academic. They want me to grow up, go to college, and pursue a career I have never seen myself in no less actually being interested in. Like you, I don’t really care if my job at first doesn’t really pay well, I’d rather do something I love than something I just despise. What am I supposed to do ? Anyways, thank you for your thoughtful & really helpful blog. It really opens the eyes and minds of other pastry-chefs and brings hope & such great advice to people like me who look up to happy bakers.

    • Anita #112

      Hi Mey,

      Thanks for your kind e-mail! You’re 12 years old so you have plenty of time to get on the road to becoming a pastry chef! I would see if you can take an after-school or weekend job working in a bakery or restaurant to learn some skills and see if this is what you really want to do. If it is, your parents may be impressed by your dedication and willingness to work hard in the career of your choice. You might also be able to start saving some money from your job to go to pastry school. Also, start researching pastry schools you want to go to and contact them for info. Many of them offer scholarships or other financial aid to help you afford the school. You can always go to college later if you decide that pastry is not working out for you – maybe your parents will understand that. But try to see if you can get as much practical experience now as you can – take baking classes, find a part-time baking job – perhaps you can even look into selling your own pastries to show your parents that you can make money doing it. The more baking you do, the more knowledge and experience you will have to convince yourself and others that you can do this as a career. Don’t worry Mey – you have a lot of time to become a great pastry chef, so be patient and positive it will happen. best of luck!

  • Kevin #113

    Hi Anita,

    I have been looking into pastry for awhile now. However, I always get results like Art Institute or Le Cordon Bleu. I am not sure how to further my research to find something that specialize in pastry. In addtion, did you go with the associated or the certificate program?

    Thanks.

    • Anita #114

      Hi Kevin,

      Have you tried searching for “professional pastry program” in search engines? You should also include your location in the search, unless you’re willing to travel across the world/country. Le Cordon Bleu does have a pastry program, as does the Culinary Institute of America – I’m not sure where you’re from or where you’re willing to go so you should put those parameters in your search. The school I went to only offered a certificate so that’s what I got! Good luck!

  • A Request for My Readers #115

    [...] and classes fantastic. I’ve written glowingly about my experience there, and it is one of the two places I recommend to people when they write to me about advice on pastry [...]

  • Megha Nathani #116

    I am a 16 year old girl from India. I am going to finish my high school in the year 2015 and then I plan to go under a patisserie and baking course so that I can run a small business here in India as it is less famous here. What qualifications and documents do I need to admin in some school in LA California? The cheapest possible and what procedures do I need to follow to go through the admission process? And do they provide any aid in fees, housing or costs? Thanks if you reply and your blog gave so much ease to me you can not imagine :)

    • Anita #117

      Hi Megha,

      Thanks for your e-mail and I support your ambition! It’s hard for me to give you an answer because it depends on the individual school. I don’t know very much about schools in LA, so if you have found a school you want to go to, I would call the admissions department to ask them what are the requirements for admittance, and about financial aid. Good luck!

  • Katie #118

    Great post :) I’m currently in technical school for professional baking and looking for pastry colleges so this was very helpful :)

  • Jeanel #119

    Hey Pastrygirl,

    Amazing post! Glad to have read some great ideas even though i am from overseas still great tips. I am currently new at an family opened bakery. I am their new apprentice. Theyv got me doing the sandwiches and making the doughs for the next day.. but im thinking there is going to be more work to this right? I am trying my best trying to keep on time but i seem to feel like what i do now is already takes up 8 hours of my time.. how am i able to show them i can do more? Hope you can help me out.

    • Anita #120

      Hi Jeanel,

      If you are just starting out in the industry, you may have to be patient for a bit and do some of the more basic tasks before you can move on the more “fun” things. That said, you should certainly let your boss know that you’re interested in learning more and see if there is a timetable or opportunity for you to do more. If they do not seem receptive to teaching you more, you might want to look around for other places to work. However, understand it’s a two-way street and the owner may just need to gain confidence in your skills and work ethic before giving you more responsibility. Good luck!

  • viv #121

    I actually want to go to pasty school to learn the proper way of baking but then the ones in HK are really pretty bad. Am still considering maybe taking a few months (sabbatical) to attend cordon bleu.

    • minnow #122

      Me too! I’m based in HK and when I took a look at HK Culinary Academy’s “school”/”kitchen” in North Point, I must say it wasn’t what I expected…

  • Mel #123

    hi Anita.. i just find your blog and i’m so excited with your post.. i’m 19years old . i just graduated from my senior high school half year ago and now i study chinese languange in China.. i’m so interested with pastry school.. but are they any pastry school can accept person that just graduated from senior high school and don’t have much skill of baking.. because i just baking easy cake at home with my mom. something like that.. can you recommended some school for me? then must i take pastry school in my country first then go outside or go outside direct? my english still not good i guess.. if i go outside,i scared that i can’t understand what the teacher said.. please give me your suggestion..
    thanks.. :)

    • Anita #124

      Hello Mel,

      Many pastry schools accept students without prior experience or knowledge – all the schools I recommended on my page accept students assuming no knowledge of professional baking. I would talk to the schools you are interested in. I’m afraid I don’t know of pastry schools in China, but you might be able to do research on the internet or ask at local bakeries for advice. It’s your choice if you would like to go to pastry school in China or outside the country – as I said, most pastry schools in the US do not have prerequisites. You should talk to the admissions department of the pastry school to determine any visa or language requirements. I can understand your English fine:), but if you are afraid you won’t understand the teacher, again I would suggest speaking to the admissions department. It would be a waste of your time and money to go a school if you have difficulty understanding the teacher. Most pastry schools teach in English or French (international pastry schools) – I would recommend being comfortable in one of those languages. Good luck!

  • Kei #125

    Thank you, you have given me courage for me to take a step farther to reach my dream as a professional pastry chef. Many people in my family disagrees with my idea of becoming a professional pastry chef and I almost lost all hope. But after reading your pages, it gave me more courage and I thank you for that. Thank you!

    • Anita #126

      Thanks Kei! It’s always great to know that I can inspire people to go chase their dreams. Good luck and best wishes!

  • Tempest #127

    Thank you! That really put my career choices in perspective. My ultimate goal is to own my own gourmet soup kitchen for the homeless. But in order to do this for free, I have to have some means of generating an income. So I would love to open my open a pastry shop/cafe with wifi etc that’s local and open to the less fortunate as well. Thank you for this blog post, it definitely gives me hope for my dreams of helping others.

  • mali #128

    that’s really awesome , but in my situation i cant go to school , there’s no school for pastry art in my hometown and i cant travel ….so what i can do to learn and which book is can help me

    • Anita #129

      Hi Mali,

      Click to see some of my recs for good baking books. Good luck – you can learn a lot just by baking at home!

  • Alberto #130

    Great and Interesting post Anita. I want to suggest our top level Pastry Chef School in Italy. A lot of people is contacting us from USA. I wonder if is there a growing interest for this great art. I feel like there a boom Pastry Art in the USA (actually I see the same also in Italy).

    Ciao

  • Sharvina #131

    Hey Anita, I have completed my bachelors in dental surgery. But, I did that for my parents. I just love baking and would love to join pastry school and continue my career in baking. But, I’m sure people will think I’m crazy to be joining a pastry school after completing BDS and have a opportunity to be dentist but instead I chose to be a baker. But, its always been my dream.. What do you think I should do? Thank you and really proud and happy to see your achievements in baking:)

    • Anita #132

      Hi Sharvina,

      Congrats on getting your bachelors in dental surgery! That’s quite an achievement. I would say that like me you have an excellent backup plan in case pastry doesn’t work out:) If your dream is really to work in pastry, I would say to try it out for bit – you can work in a bakery or restaurant for a while and see if you still like it enough to go to pastry school. It doesn’t matter if other people think you are crazy, what’s important is what you think! You don’t want to be wishing years from now, “if only I’d followed my pastry dreams!” You will never know until you try.

      best,
      Anita

  • A New Professional Pastry Program at the SF Cooking School #133

    [...] Nota bene: When I interviewed Nicole, obviously the program was still under construction. I am not affiliated with the SF Cooking School, so if you have any specific questions about the program or the interview process, please fill out the form on their site or contact the school. I’m afraid I don’t have any special advice to get you in the school, as obviously I haven’t been through the program, so if you’re interested, I highly encourage you to ask the school whatever questions you have. They are quite eager to welcome students to their classes! You may also want to read my post on Going to Pastry School. [...]

  • Jazmin #134

    Thanks for your post, it has encouraged me to really look into possibly becoming a professional pastry chef, especially since I had recently left pursuing a degree in Engineering because I had grown depressed and overly stressed. I curiously started out with white bread just a few months ago, and I found it greatly eased much of my pent up stress, I was not bad at it, and now I am constantly making my own laminated dough and watching my family munching away at my palmiers really makes me happy. I really hope I could pursue this professionally, and you just gave me a bit of an inkling of where to start C:

  • Tiffany #135

    Hello, I just wanted to let you know that I am interested in attending Pastry School and this was an incredibly helpful post!!!! I liked when you said “Don’t live your life full of regrets for what you didn’t do because you were afraid.” Very inspirational and it resonated with me. Keep it up with the great post :)

  • Joni jones #136

    Hi I didn’t see what the price is for going to the pastry school you went yo.
    Thanks

    • Anita #137

      Hi Joni,

      The cost was $6500 when I attended but I would contact the school and ask them directly as I believe the cost has increased over the years. Thanks!

  • Tia #138

    Hi:
    I just read your post and it was a mouthful but extremely practical, true and eye opening. Your points were very valid and since I would like to go to pastry school so I can open a high-end pastry shop and bakery. I am glad that I stumbled across your post. I am considering attending Le Cordon Bleu Pastry School but like you suggested I am still researching to see what other options are available out there.

    All the best you, and thanks again for the insight.

    Tia

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