The New Bakers Dozen
Lack of bakers

The The Bakers Dozen: Lack of bakers
By jeee2 on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 12:05 am: Edit

I thought I'd start a new thread to respond to a question by tj.

"The lack of bakeries vs restaurants" is explained by the difference in profit margins and the ease of learning to cook vs bake.
Learning to cook in a French restaurant was very easy compared to the apprenticeship for pastry.
I worked with a lot of cooks who couldn't qualify in pastry yet they were good cooks nonetheless.!
If you have ever tried to hire good pastry cooks you understand the shortage of competence.
But finding very good cooks is a doddle , they will come in droves.
So , theres a big difference in skill levels.
The general public will frequent fancy restaurants yet eat trash simply because they have no taste, dining in a restaurant biz is an entertainment experience and they will pay, left to their own devices they resort to the usual.

Cheers, Gerard

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 11:32 am: Edit

I clearly understand you won't agree with me from the outset. Possibly some other people can understand what I'm saying and help explain.

Mikeh wrote something that is SO EXACT I need to quote him..."I've tasted pastries from bakeries that didn't have enough of a difference in quality to warrant twice the price of a supermarket product."

Gord..."There are many ethnicities out there, each with it's own tastes. America is one of them. Things are different here. Not better, not worse, just different."


When in America bake what Americans want. When in France bake what the french want, etc...

Business is Business not education!!!!!!

Educate all you want, that is nobel! If you have a business it's wise to produce a product the people in your area want. I truely believe that is a largest reason for the failing industry (remember your a business first), although I know there are other issues.

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 11:38 am: Edit

After re-looking at the title Gerard posted I realize I might be off topic. I'm sorry I was writing in response to tjs' earlier question on a different tread, that Gerard mentioned in his comments.

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 12:39 pm: Edit

Oh man, I'm so sorry but I have to add this: A large difference between the success of some bakeries vs resturants is...Chefs cook to order, they have much less waste and a often a freshier product. Pastry chefs must bake to speculation of sales. When they don't meet their target they can't afford to throw all their product out so they hold it over.

In small mom & pop bakeries they hold and hold and hold until their product tastes like the freezer.

That is what MikeH tasted that wasen't worth the extra money!

It becomes a viscous cycle for small bakeries. They have to fill their cases to entice business yet they have no real control over regaining the cost of the product.

Everytime a customer buys a product that "pop" held too long, they loose another customer. Everytime the customer get's a bad product they loose their faith in spending their dollar there. That has closed many a small town bakery.

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 03:40 pm: Edit

Oh contrare Pierre,
Mom and pop bakeries go out of business because they are usually good bakers but bad businesspeople.
There are ways to rework you stales, turn products after one day , etc. If your risking customers by leaving product in the cases to long you need to go back to work for other people.There is so much more to running a bakery than baking.

I absolutely agree about finding experienced help.
I have just resigned to the fact that I have to train people with little or no experience. It seems to be working better.Of course there is always the risk they will go down the road for .50 hr more.
Everybody I hire that has experience works well at first, but as soon as they are left on their they revert back to old habits, shortcutting products,recipes etc.
Everyone who works with me with has or will have a piece of the action depending on length of employment.
There is a shortage of competent pastry cooks out there.

By tj on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 04:05 pm: Edit

gerard, i could not have said it better. exactly the difference!
if things are different -not better not worse ,just different , and the mom and pop bakeries ,i assume are run by americans (mostly) and they know their fellow american customers (presumably) why are they still failing? if americans bake for americans what americans whant why do they fail all over the place? are we going to talk now again about the supermarkets?
bottom line in my mind....there is no interest in bakeries.good or bad ,they dont interest any one.may be it has to do with decades of BAD BAKING in this country that trained the customers to stay away from those "bakeries" ? some places may be lucky , but they are very few, and must add lunch/sandwiches to their line to help make profits......

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 04:43 pm: Edit

tj and Panini I never said they were good business people, never!

No, I think they(mom & pop) hold ALOT of responsiblity in turning off people from bakeries.

I also think the well run bakeries by professionals (usually European) turn Americans off by their taste (meaning they make items Americans are not in tune with, or willing to grow accustom too) NOT quality!

Did you read that... I said the European's QUALITY is better and sometimes far better than American bakeries!

tj I think the American baker understands the "taste" Americans want (sweet, no alchol, no dry cakes) but they aren't able consistantly provide that due to a lack of skills.

Don't you think the "THIN" crazy also kills bakeries? You have to make a effort to buy from a bakery. They only buy occasion cakes at bakeries, not pastries. Instead they they go to the grocery store and the impulses get the best of them, then they buy the baked goods available in the store.

By tj on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 07:15 pm: Edit

what is so "off" in american taste that would turn them away from buying at european bakeries? i dont get that. give me anyone you want ,and i will take them to gerard mulot`s bakery in paris (or so many other fine ones),and let them sample anything in the shop.not only they will eat every thing , they will have a heart attack from the excitement and great pleasure.they will experience something they probably never experienced before .they will fall deeply in love with it ,all the way to point when they will have to pay for it..... :-)

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 09:56 pm: Edit

tj, food in Europe is a part of the life style, here in the US it has become a chore, everybodys running around crazy here. Its all convenience here. Our family in Paris live a completely different lifestyle than us. Here we try to develope out little corporations'our kids' pushing schooling,sports,extras down there throats. There is no extra time to sit and enjoy food.
Where the hell are all these failing bakeries?
We have the very old institutions and the new bakeries here. We are all doing pretty good.Of course we have to position ourselves in the more affluent parts where there is more disposable income, more time and more foodies.
My style is Family run, American up-scale. I don't know about the terminology but it works for me.There is no trick, hard work, best ingredients and a good product. Ya know those fancy pastry shops in France are an experience when we visit, but you know when I get to meet some of the owners and representitives of these places and tell them what I do in the states they always ask if I have a good brownie or chocolate chip formula.Ha, go figure?

By tj on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 10:15 pm: Edit

i understand all that you say.but what i mean to say is ,that the "european" style of baking require no real need to grow on it. every one love it from the first bite.and after all ,show me a technique in what you guys call american baking that is not rooted or comes from european baking methods? essentialy all bakers use the same techniques more or less ,the end result is what makes the i understand it, the majority of american style cakes are based on creaming methode,rather then whipped eggs/meringue batters.this is fine.but it comes down to lack of fine tuning of flavours and miss use of ingredients that over all makes a not so great ,not so imaginative products.but dont get me wrong,there is nothing wrong with simple cake like pound cakes....just make them good. i hope you know what i mean by that...

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 10:20 pm: Edit

I'm not sure I really follow you tj...I've never been to France I fully admit I have no first hand knowledge of any of your wonderful places.

Then again, neither have most Americans.

If we walked into such a fabulous place anywhere around our home maybe we too would be turned on. Could you tell me where in Chicagoland I could experience that?

I don't know Panini, bakeries aren't doing well in any of the areas around my travels. Locally they keep closing, which is funny because our population is exploding as well as income. I can site other "well to do" areas in Chicago suburbs that hardly support any business (no one lives there year round). Count your lucky stars if your area is doing well with bakeries!

The European (in name/I don't know if they really are)bakeries around here sell ALOT worse tasting product than my uneducated hands produce. Trust me, I'm not exagerating.

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 10:23 pm: Edit

tj, american tastes are just different! Can you understand the appeal of a warm chocolate chip cookie and a glass of cold milk? For millions of people here, that is as close to heaven as a pastry can get. Nothing in any bakery in France would top it for many, many people. The complex, rich flavors of classic european pastries are pleasing, and Americans are just as capable of appreciating them as the French, but if it was their last meal, they'd choose the chocolate chip cookie.

By jeee2 on Wednesday, April 12, 2000 - 08:19 am: Edit

<<In small mom & pop bakeries they hold and hold and hold until their product tastes like the freezer<<

I toss all the viennoiserie except almond macaroons and croque amondes but the rest goes in the dumpster EVERY day. The food cost is nothing compared to customer loss. Pastry can be managed and recycled into the wholesale accounts and especially the catering, they think they are getting great desserts and I'm unloading crap.

Yesterday we sold out at 10:30 am , we closed at 11 and I went to the catering gig, this works out great.The cater gig took 2-3 hrs and made more money with no payroll for counter help.
We have to be adaptive.

By jeee2 on Wednesday, April 12, 2000 - 01:26 pm: Edit

Well I really thought some chefs would have jumped into the fray with my premise being pastry cooks having more skills than cooks but no takers.

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Wednesday, April 12, 2000 - 02:42 pm: Edit

OK I'LL BITE. (He said as he prepared to walk in to the lions den.)
Thats like saying a brain surgeon has more skills than an intern. Cook is entree level position. By the time anyone even knows what a pastry cook is they have been in the business awhile.
Does a saucier have less skills than a pastry cook. Maybe different not less.

Now I am not talking about anyone on this BB but in my experience people who have become pastry cooks did so because the did not want to or could not handle the stress of the line. (He said tongue in cheek.)=;-{>

By momoreg on Wednesday, April 12, 2000 - 02:48 pm: Edit

I'll admit it, I don't want to work on a line anymore. I can't see why anyone would want to spend every day of their lives working in excruciating heat pumping out the same meals over and over again. It lacks creativity, and after a couple years of that, I felt brain dead.

By momoreg on Wednesday, April 12, 2000 - 02:53 pm: Edit

I haven't worked on the line in 10 years, and I don't miss it, but if there's a valuable skill that I acquired from line work, it's RHYTHM. It's a talent that a lot of pastry cooks lack.

By tj on Wednesday, April 12, 2000 - 05:00 pm: Edit

"if we walked in to such fabuluse places, we to could be turned on" ...the problem is there are not fabuluse places here ,so how can people get turned on? is it like the chicken and the egg situation? which came first, bad bakeries that make customers turn away ,or lack of customers interest, so you end up with out of business bakeries that were good or bad, does not matter, they still go out of looks like a no win situation for bakers.and you need a lot more luck than skills.cause no one realy cares about the skills.and they also dont realy care much about bakeries ,of what ever style they are....

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, April 12, 2000 - 05:32 pm: Edit

This is really depressing, it sounds like we are having a funeral for bakeries. Ca'mon guys.
tj, your absolutely right, most of my formulas are european based, but I adapt them to entice my US costomer.I sell choco.chip cookies and brownies all day long. I also sell turnovers,eclairs,cream puffs, etc. But also on the top shelf of my cake case there are chocolate ganache mice, wwhat I call swiss bananas and upscale products like that. I choose not to use terms like creme patissiere,moussline sp?. I call it old fashioned custard.
All my cakes are mousse filled, I do a triple nut torte"I'm sure there is an european name out there somewhere" . I grated chocolate one time for my chocolate pecan torte, the dust kind of burned inside, Burnt Chocolate Pecan Torte is my best seller.go figure. This just isn't europe, thats all there is to it.
good luck

By momoreg on Wednesday, April 12, 2000 - 07:09 pm: Edit

And it's really not as bad as you make it sound. There is a large population of people(at least in the NY area) who are very interested in high end food, and who know a substantial amount about foreign cuisines as well. That includes pastry.

By mikebel on Wednesday, April 12, 2000 - 08:10 pm: Edit

my 5 cents on the much varied topic from my experience where i have worked its not so much the pastry chefs that are opting for the quick fix answers e.g premix cake,compound chocolate,frozen danish etc I love making the scratch mixes and feel a sense of achievement when i start with butter flour sugar and eggs and come out with a well presented nice tasting product i dont get the same satisfaction out of the other. But hey its not my business, the owners dont share our passion and pride in our skills, they look at the bottom dollar and thats where the appreciation ends.So its up to me if i want to enjoy my job to make the best possible product with what i have and the skills i have learnt. That and I know im leaving for Australia in 7 weeks to work at the olympics lol :) ~~~~~~~~~mike~~~~~~~

By tj on Wednesday, April 12, 2000 - 08:16 pm: Edit

n.y is a bad example. an island of hope in an ocean of mediocrity and below.
i wonder if payard will consider opening a shop in any other town usa.what do you think ? no ? maybe?
(he is probebly smarter than that)

By momoreg on Thursday, April 13, 2000 - 06:43 am: Edit

I have been to many cities in North America that have an interest in quality. What about San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Montreal, Santa Fe? And, by the way, they may not be cities where Payard would open a shop, but that doesn't mean that the people who live there don't like good food.

By W.DeBord on Thursday, April 13, 2000 - 08:02 am: Edit

Some bakers realize there's easier and better money cooking. We were catering out the back door of our bakery, it didn't take a rocket scientist to realize how much easier that route would be. Just not having to pay large rent bills for a good location made a big difference in the bottom line.

Of course after a while you do realize that's not a perfect route, either.

Panini aren't you in new Orleans? I know alot of people who go there only for the food and drink. It's a eating vacation, with alot of tourists no?

Momoreg Chicago has an interest in quality, they have wealth and some high traffic areas that should support high end bakeries. I think it's more complex than just having those factors in your favor.

No one thinks the diet thing has scared away customers?

Mikebel the owners do share your passion, I think your wrong about that. Sometimes your hands are tied. If you don't turn a profit you can't employee passionate pastry chefs.

By Yankee on Thursday, April 13, 2000 - 01:52 pm: Edit

As to the comment about pastry chefs who flee the line, I'm guilty. I worked the line in a three star, pill box kitchen in Manhatten through the summer. Great experience working for a great chef. I'm a better pastry chef for that time. Other than that, it sucked. Why be miserable? Having a choice is a great thing.

When good chefs go to heaven, their meals will be prepared by pastry chefs. When bad chefs go to purgatory, they will have to endlessly try to bake brulee's in a line oven during a never ending service rush.

When good pastry chefs go to heaven, they get to run a bake shop full of bad chef's who thought they were great pastry chef's. After every shift, the pastry chef gets to throw out each bad chef's product and tell them that "they were not as good as those box mix cakes at that country club near Chicago. Start over, you hack." Bad pastry chefs spend eternity in purgatory sitting on stinky cutting boards and eating cake mix out of the box with no milk. ;)

By Panini (Panini) on Thursday, April 13, 2000 - 02:44 pm: Edit

Actually I'm in Dallas Tx. With all these cowboys there is actually a big food following. There is also alot of major corp. moving here because of the land and schools.Mose of my customers are from the north or old educated oil money. Cost of living is very cheap here. Economy is booming. I would get asking price plus 10% on my house in one day on the market, but pay double to replace it. A nice 3-4 bedroom house,large yard,blue ribbon schools,100,000.-150,000.

By momoreg on Thursday, April 13, 2000 - 10:22 pm: Edit

That's amazing...I'm jealous. You can't get anything here in Connecticut for that.

By vbean on Sunday, June 18, 2000 - 02:34 am: Edit

Momoreg, I too worked the line (for 9 years befor pastry). I believe you enter pastry with a better palate and an appreciation for salt and taste balance.
I also agree vvery much with you about the speed and organization being a good line cook creates. I always have pastry cooks start as platers.
The pastry business is booming in SF. There are many good shops. Here people don't want things so sweet and they will order things with alcohol.
TJ, I think that there is a great deal of creativity in American baking. Most Americans are more willing to try making something a new way then the way that it has always been done. Look at Pierre Herme, alot of his ideas came from the US.
Get over Payard, try the La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles or Citizen Cake in SF.
ok, American cake example. One of my most favorite and versatile choc cakes. whole eggs, sugar, coffee, buttermilk, canola oil, cocoa, flour, baking soda, vanilla, and salt.

By W.DeBord on Sunday, June 18, 2000 - 11:32 pm: Edit

vbean then would you agree with my comments on the Herme thread? Or are you only meaning end result being new, not changing any proceedures? :)

By Country Baker on Monday, June 19, 2000 - 12:03 am: Edit

I have been following along with everones thoughts on bakeries. I think it depends on where you live. A high scale french bake shop wouldn/t last two months here. If you cann't make a good old fashioned coconut cake, Italian Cream, German Chocolate, Hummingbird, Coconut cream cheese pound, or red velvet cake you are out of luck here. You also need tea cakes, sugar cookies, chocolate chips, oatmeal and brownies. The pies are sweet potato, coconut cream, chocolate, pecan and lemon. And you donn't make anything out of a box.

By Rubble (Rubble) on Monday, June 19, 2000 - 01:36 pm: Edit

I've been reading all of your entries and I am fascinated! I am a student at a culinary school in Chicago, but I am only taking pastry classes working towards certification. I have no interest in cooking whatsoever -- it doesn't appeal to me. But after reading your comments, I'm beginning to doubt myself and thinking that I should perhaps reconsider - or at least take some cooking classes. What do you all recommend? I am heartened to knowthat pastry workers are hard to find (and I'm itching for some experience!), but I also want to make sure I'm not setting myself up for discouragement and failure. Thanks!

By W.DeBord on Monday, June 26, 2000 - 09:59 am: Edit

Rubble I find it suprising you have NO interest in cooking only baking? Yes, I think it's important to understand the whole kitchen to be a good pastry chef. You'll look like a school taught (limited idiot) if you know nothing about the line, how they work, how to help them in a pinch (or when to get out of their way). You have to understand your co-workers to get along with them, they work much different then pastry!

Pastry chefs don't ALL work in self-contained bakeries. When you consult with a customer you need to know food to recommend a complimentary dessert. You'll get little to no respect from the kitchen staff or customers if you know nothing about cooking.

I don't think you have to devote 50% of you efforts to cooking but YES you need a working knowledge of food in a professional kitchen!

Also they are talking about GOOD (not straight from school) pastry chefs are hard to find. :)

I'm don't want discourage you, but you can't be overly sensitive in a kitchen.

By Rubble (Rubble) on Monday, June 26, 2000 - 01:08 pm: Edit

Thanks, W.DeBord! You are telling the truth. But when I hear feedback like yours, I begin to question the thoughtfulness (and thoroughness) of the school that I'm attending. Thus far, not one of my baking/pastry instructors have encouraged or recommended me to take any cooking classes. And given your feedback, I am surprised that this isn't included in the core curriculum.

You are quite correct on how one can't be oversensitive in the kitchen. My family owned a restaurant for years. I doubt that line operation (or line attitude) has changed much since then. I have plenty of stories that resemble those tales shared earlier about abuse in the kitchen. It is for these reasons that I'm still uncertain whether I should be a baker or a pastry chef.

You are also correct about the relative inadequacies of school-taught pastry workers. If you had read one of my earlier entries, I stated that I am eager to get some exposure to bakery operations, just so I can get some experience in (and flavor for) the workplace. School, of course, does not offer any practical insights to production in the workplace. Just horror stories and crap like that.. But I think it's frequently forgotten that nearly all chefs had their beginnings as 'limited idiots'. Everyone must start somewhere.

I plan to ask my instructors at school about your advice and get their feedback. It certainly makes sense. Again, thanks for taking the time to respond!

By Panini (Panini) on Monday, June 26, 2000 - 02:19 pm: Edit

What kind of certification will you receive from this school? W.DeBord gives you some good insight. You should have a good understanding of the total back and front of the house operation.
Specializing in certain areas is the new trend but I personally I feel it is a hindrance when you finally get into the field.
For your own sake you will need broad input in meetings, not only for a team sake but to protect yourself from getting tramppled. You will always be an employee of the Exec. Chef. If you do not have kitchen skills you will never get any respect. Of course this is usually the opposite in most kitchens, the chef usually knows nothing or pretends to know everything about the bakeshop.
Most Executive Pastry Chefs will tell you, you can take any pastry cook and put them on the line and they will survive, but take a line cook and put him in the bakeshop and they drown in hours.
Good luck to you

By tj on Monday, June 26, 2000 - 05:16 pm: Edit

this is my advice to you: pack your bags and go to BELLOUET CONSEIL in paris (304 rue Lecourbe, tel
01 40 60 16 20) .take every single class they have.if it is financialy imposible, then take all the classes they offer on baking and pastry , minus the classes on special decoration work (such as sugar and chocolate work).you first need a good foundation of skills and knowledge in pastry and baking, then go back after 2 years , and take the classes on decoration works.the teachers are joel bellouet,jean michel perruchon,pascal brunstein,emmanuel ryon,and christophe felder.probebly the most talanted group of pastry teachers in the solar the SHORT time you will spend in the classes(that are 3-5 days),you will gaine 10 years worth of schools in the will see and learn the most up to date information,technique and style in will be worth every single dime you spend!!!
and you can do it all in english couse they speak it quite well...

By tj on Monday, June 26, 2000 - 05:22 pm: Edit

i know this is alittle scarry for alot of yankees out there, leaving for france for a couple of months, but believe me, the time you will spend there will be the most educating and valueble you will ever spend in your coulinary career.and you can do this all with no more than 10-15 thousand dollars, including tuition and stay in paris.
now , compare that to the tuitions they charge in the US for culinary programs that will give you no more than a certificate or a diploma ,which you can effectivly use in any bath room....

By Rubble (Rubble) on Monday, June 26, 2000 - 06:43 pm: Edit

Panini, I give you the description for the baking & pastry certification as it is vaguely worded in our manuals: "The mastery of the art & science of the rapidly growing field [of baking and pastry production]...Qualifies the student to adapt their creativity and skills to various employers' individual modes of operation..." It evokes a few giggles from me since it means nothing. Even though I've only completed four courses thus far in the certification program, I have yet to be instructed in anything related to volume production (hence my eagerness to acquire some actual experience).
Once again, I hear that I will need a broad range of kitchen skills. I wonder why this is not emphasized at my school.
You also comment that line cooks often flounder in the bake shop. My very first instructor at the school was not a member of the baking/pastry faculty, but part of the culinary. As I've progressed through my classes, subsequent pastry teachers have disproven many things that this culinary teacher taught. And even though the culinary and pastry chefs trade barbs frequently, I wonder if all of it is in fun. They certainly don't see eye-to-eye on a lot of things.

I read this discussion board daily. I learn a lot from it. I thank you all and appreciate that you tolerate my occasional rudimentary questions.

Thanks to you as well, Panini! I appreciate your response and support.

By Rubble (Rubble) on Monday, June 26, 2000 - 06:58 pm: Edit

TJ, what a wonderful suggestion!! I visit Paris every year but I never considered taking courses in France. My most recent visit to Paris was this past April. Each day, I made it a point to visit as many patisseries and boulangeries (forgive my spelling!) as possible. Although there are some very bland, unremarkable shops in Paris, the very good ones can not compare to anything we have here in the U.S.! Their work truly inspires me.

This gives me something to think about for the future! I'm off to search the internet for more info! Thank you!

By vbean on Tuesday, June 27, 2000 - 12:34 am: Edit

I tellevery one who is interested in pastry to go to France to study. More technique, more value, more history.
I believe that if you want to be a Pastry Chef, you must also study and understand food. To design a dessert for a certain menu- well, it must balance with and compliment the rest of the menu.
Take wine classes as well, so you can understand pairing (and how to use wines and liquers in desserts). Read food history; this will help explain the why, where, and what you are doing.
I'm marinating wood oven roasted peaches in Bonny Doon Muscat (with vanilla bean) overnight for a summer 2000 approach to a peach melba.

By vbean on Tuesday, June 27, 2000 - 12:50 am: Edit

I see all the time line cooks who can't line a tart shell (or make doughs), whose idea of cooking something faster is to turn up the oven temp.
I was very busy with banquets one day and the Chef gave me a line cook to help. I thought he could handle making muffin mix. The first thing he did was measure a few tablespoons of baking powder directly into the Hobart bowl! At least he made me laugh! Scooping cookies or cutting fruit- I learned my lesson.
I must add that I love working with Chefs who have true pastry knowledge.

By DouceFrance on Tuesday, June 27, 2000 - 08:03 am: Edit

I completely agree with tj. Go to Bellouet and take all his classes except decorating. You can negotiate a global price that might be payable in 3 or 4 times. They are very open about that and it helped me a lot. I started with the pastry classes and ended up taking their cooking classes too and don't regret it. I am a mainly self taught pastry chef,owned my bakery in France for 8 years, but I learned more from Bellouet than I ever did in those 8 years in my place.
If you need info or contacts in Paris, my daughter lives there, speaks fluent english and would probably be happy to help. Let me know if you need anything.
Good luck

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, June 27, 2000 - 12:14 pm: Edit

Rubble you need to think of school as a tool, too many students think of it as a parent. It's an institution that doesn't/can't individualize it's programs for each student.

You've come to realize your schools' program is not perfect. Deside how you will learn what they haven't provided for you. You've gotten some great advice at this site from some who maybe more knowledgeable than your current instuctors.

I'd guess the barbs you hear between the instuctors is reality with a smile(because their in front of the kids). In my experience this misunderstanding of what the other does is enormous! Bakers and chefs are very different in personality, their methods, hours, equpiment and everything else is dissimilar causing resentments and contempt for the other. Sometimes knowing cooking has been my defense/survival in a kitchen where I'm out numbered.

P.S. While your here you could find out more about baking vs pastry to help you understand what road to take...ask questions!

By tj on Tuesday, June 27, 2000 - 02:52 pm: Edit

w. you are right about bakers and chefs.two different skills in the kitchen.
one of my teachers told me 35 years ago, that, and i quote :"great pastry chefs can easily become great cooks, but great cooks will have a hard time being great pastry chefs".at the beginning i thought this is strange, but as i progressed in this profession,realizing the acurate scientific approach of it, the small details in this work that have little to do with "touch", then i began to understand what he ment by that.and by watching the crazy atmosphere of a busy service hour in a cooking kitchen, you can understand the big diferrance in the general approach to both professions.baking is much more demanding in acuracy, technique and can always spot when a cooking chef have a "bad" for the pastry chefs ,this is something that can not be tolerated (technicly speaking).
pastry mistakes are rarely correctable.once batters are mixed and done, there is little you can do to correct them.

By Rubble (Rubble) on Tuesday, June 27, 2000 - 04:21 pm: Edit

Chef DeBord, I think we're in agreement. The only way to get experience is to seek it out -- I realize that this can not be taught by any school. Apart from consistent practice on my own, this is the only way to 'fill in the gaps'.

And to DouceFrance and tj, thank you again! I found some very helpful information on the internet re: Bellouet Conseil. But do you own the books they offer? If so, which version do you own (French or English language) and do you find them helpful? Any question of registering for their classes will have to wait at least a year; but if their texts are thorough and clear, I think it would be an excellent investment!

Thanks again to you all for your kindness!

By tj on Tuesday, June 27, 2000 - 07:58 pm: Edit

i have all of bellouet books ,all in french, but the latest one i got has also english text.they are all good but they do not offer basic knowledge.they are ment to be used by experienced pastry chefs for added insperation and varietion in their product line.the work in all his books ,from tradition and evolution of cakes ,sugar work(pulled and blown),to chocolate work,and center pieces are very imaginative,inspiring and gives you a great example of what accomplished pastry chefs are doing in france in the high end is interesting to note ,that in every book he rights , he opens by giving gaston Lenotre the greatest respects and appriciations for his love and devotion to quality pastries thruogh the years bellouet was with him.i think he feels greatly in his debt for his help over the years ,since bellouet was a teacher at Lenotre for more than a decade...

By tj on Tuesday, June 27, 2000 - 08:07 pm: Edit

as a matter of fact, the first book he wrote on cakes "tradition and evolution" ,is an actual text book for all the recipes he thought at LENOTRE courses :"entremet classic no.1", and "modern entremet no.2". and still are tought at LENOTRE today.his latest book ,that i just got from france is a kind of a show case of all the most famouse pastry chefs in france and their master piece cakes.a beutiful book with highly atractive creations, not to be attempted by beginers...i think that except for the book on chocolate, all are available in english, but i cant comment on the quality of the traslation.

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