Ballpark Estimate: $13,000 to $37,000 (6-month program)
It’s reasonably safe to assume that very few people in the world will turn down an offer to taste an eye-catching slice of raspberry cheesecake or a mouthwatering chocolate éclair. It’s also a given that the aroma of pastry inside any bakery is enough to challenge the will-power of even the staunchest dietary nutritionists.
History of Desserts
For this we can thank the ancient Mediterranean Greeks. Food historians believe returning crusaders introduced the paper-thin and multi-layered baklava to Medieval Europe where the delicacies were an instant hit. The French and Italian chefs were credited with refining the art of making puff pastry during the Renaissance although it wasn’t until the 17th century that Antonin Careme elevated French pastry to an art form.
If your passion is to flutter around the kitchen every chance you get making fancy cakes, holiday cookies, cream puffs, or a crème Brule, or if you take great pride in the artistic presentation of your cake-decorating skills, perhaps you should consider developing your talent towards becoming a professional French pastry chef.
Internationally acclaimed French pastry schools can be found in most major cities of the United States such as New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. No experience is necessary to enroll. In fact, in one study, over half of the new students enrolled in pastry schools came from such diverse occupations as lawyers, actors, cooks, and policemen.
In addition, each school strives to limit the class size to between ten and eighteen students who will usually work in pairs. Following graduation, diplomas are awarded and in the more costly schools job placement assistance is also provided.
Depending on the school selected, the students have the choice of morning or afternoon classes which, typically, are six to seven hours in length five days a week. Day and afternoon students will graduate in six-months. At schools that offer evening classes, usually three evenings a week, the students receive their diplomas after nine months. As a rule, each class will consist of several demonstrations by the pastry chef-instructor, after which the students return to their stations to begin working on the subject dishes of that lesson.
For the most part, 90-percent of the curriculum will be entirely hands-on training in the kitchen and will consist of courses such as: breakfast pastries; bread making; Petite Four’s and mini-pastries; cakes and tarts; frozen desserts; plated desserts; wedding cakes; custards and mousses; sugar work; cookies; piping and decorations; puff pastries; chocolate artistry, and much more. At the end of the training, your repertoire will rival that of many world-class pastry chefs. The tuition costs outlined are based to a large degree on the quality of the training, and the reputation of the faculty and the school.
Cost: (6-month pastry program)
- $13,000 – Standard pastry school
- $20,000 – Nationally recognized French pastry school
- $37,000 – Top-ten rated French pastry school
Pastry school graduates will find a wide-range of opportunities awaiting them such as opening their own bakery, establishing themselves at a restaurant or hotel, getting into the catering business, as a pastry instructor, etc. As far as pastry chef wages is concerned, a salary survey performed in 2007 found that the median salary by years of experience for pastry chefs ranged from $34,600 for a recent graduate with 1 to 4 years of experience, up to $50,000+ for 10 years or more.