No one quite understands the trials and tribulations of the grueling yet rewarding pastry school experience like those that go through it themselves.
Does crying tears of joy (or sadness, or both…), burning yourself in the same place three times in the span of six hours, and still loving every second of it sound appealing to you? Then a major in Baking & Pastry Arts is right up your alley. Here are 11 things that we wish were in our orientation pamphlet.
1. How to iron like it’s nobody’s business.
When all else fails…STARCH (aka the end all, be all of maintaining that fresh and pressed look). Chefs won’t even let you into the lab if your coat is not pearly white and ironed to perfection. We even have guidelines regarding how and where to iron specific creases into the coats. And don’t forget to shine those non-slips.
2. You’ll spend more money on bleach than food.
Who knew OxiClean would be your new BFF? Anything from raspberry purée to tempered chocolate somehow always finds its way onto the aforementioned pearly white coat (and pants, and shoes…). Bleach, Tide To Go, and OxiClean will all come in handy at one point during your pastry education.
3. How down right sexy a skull cap is.
…and the importance of avoiding the temptation to envy those classmates that don’t look like a thumb in chef whites.
4. Waking up at 5 am for class will make you want to throw your alarm clock out the window.
It’s not exactly the greatest feeling in the world, but it has to be done. Labs typically run from either 7 am-1 pm or 1:45 pm-7:45 pm, depending on whether or not you have a social life. Expect a dirty look from your chef if you get to class any less than 30 minutes early.
5. Faking a French accent is essential.
When a majority of the culinary and pastry lingo is French, you end up taking a language course you didn’t know you signed up for. Try saying Entremets & Petit Gâteau ten times fast.
6. It doesn’t matter how good you were with that Easy Bake Oven.
New school = clean slate. Even if you were the best student at tech school or your grandma’s favorite baker, when it comes to pastry school, everyone is on the same playing field.
7. You’ll cry at least once in front of a chef.
Blood, sweat, and tears will be shed in labs. The chefs here are both intimidating and insanely strict, but at the end of the day, they just want to see us succeed. Everyone has a bad lab day and may even shed a few tears (or a lot…) in front of chef. Move on forward and realize that it only gives you a thicker skin.
8. Confidence is everything.
It doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks about your dish. As long as you’re confident and proud that it’s somewhat edible, grandma will always approve.
9. Don’t take the ingredients in lab for granted.
The specialty items we use in labs are incredibly expensive and sometimes rare. Don’t expect to use ingredients like Plugra butter and Cacao Barry chocolate coins on the daily in the real world. That moment when you want to bake at home but realize you don’t have praline paste or agar agar…#pastryproblems.
10. Mise en place, mise en place, mise en place.
For the amateurs that don’t know what this means, mise en place is a French culinary term meaning “set in place”, aka setting up everything from equipment to ingredients before production begins. Mise en place = the holy grail of the culinary world.
11. Every tear, burn, cut, and sleepless night is just part of the job.
At the end of the day, we are lucky to be given this opportunity to learn and work with some of the best chefs in the industry. Pastry school might not be easy, but it’s damn well worth it.
Bake on, chefs.