Is it worth enrolling in a pastry school? Part 2

Every food establishment has a specialty and that holds even more true for bakeries. I knew that when I wanted to start a pie business which is another reason I enrolled in a pastry school: to see what else I enjoy doing and possibly add to the menu. What I found out from school and doing internships was that I loved making croissants and just about anything related to viennoiserie.

Coming out of the pastry school and having a much better idea as to what I'm looking for, I was searching for a job where I would make viennoiserie and use a dough sheeter on a regular basis.

In French, that position is called the tourier and there isn't an English word for it. Generally, the tourier is in charge of making viennoiserie so preparing, rolling, and shaping the dough, and possibly prepare simple fillings. Think croissants, pains aux chocolats, and brioches. Reading this, you may be confused with the term boulanger or baker but they're primarily focused on bread and that includes operating an oven at around 600F! A pâtissier or a pastry cook/chef generally makes high end desserts like macarons, entremets/mousse cakes, and pâte à choux so aesthetics are really important.

I worked at numerous places to find my best fit before settling in at Mamie Clafoutis - a popular local bakery and pastry shop that makes just about everything mentioned above. It was also the first job where I got to learn how to use a dough sheeter. After working at several shops, I became a little more efficient in the kitchen. If it wasn't for Auckland, I probably would've stayed with Mamie Clafoutis for much longer.

In Auckland, I had a more open mind when it came to jobs as I wanted to enjoy my time in a different country but luckily, I worked at a French pastry shop, La Petite Fourchette. I was still able to work with a dough sheeter although the focus of this shop was the high end desserts. Here, I learned a lot about infusing flavours including the Mornay sauce which I use to make the Chicken Mornay and Mushroom Mornay. Although I enjoyed my time there learning from skilled chefs, in the end, I realized viennoiserie is what I enjoy making the most.

Like I mentioned in my previous blog post, pastry schools will only teach you the general skills you'll need across broad subjects. There are schools (mostly international) that focuses on specific subjects like entremets, but it's expected that you know the basics and of course, it's pricey. Alternatively, you can work at a shop that specializes on the product of your interest. The risk is that the shop may not do things properly or correctly and you pick up bad habits. I've seen bakeries take in people that don't have experience but not pastry shops: it's expected that you've gone through pastry school. While I've learned a lot through work, the most important things are efficiency and speed but I'm still learning that every day.

Corey Ma, The Pie Guy

1 comment

  • Doris F. Ryan

    Hey Corey, I wasn’t sure where to leave the message. When I checked out I was offereda special deal for a $33.00 discount on a $35.00 product, but only a picture and no description. So I didn’t know what I was buying for that. Thanks.

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