About Attending Pastry School

Life in San Francisco is always wonderfully fast-moving, but the past nine months have been a whirlwind. I completed Tante Marie's fall 2011 pastry course, interned at Tartine, and catered a few private events. I'm now finally able to sit and write about how and why I decided to attend Tante Marie's. For a few years after college I researched culinary programs in the Bay Area: The CIA, Le Cordon Bleu, SFBI, International Culinary Center, CCSF (city college program), and Tante Marie's. At that time, The Art Institute did not yet have a program. It now does and Chef Cindy Muschet, my teacher and possibly the most knowledgeable and nurturing teacher in the world, teaches there.

I chose Tante Marie's for the same reasons most do. It is a part-time course designed for people serious about baking but who still work a 9-5 job. I put a lot of thought into how I could make this dream a reality while not falling into a financial hole. Tante Marie's allowed for that without substitution for quality. School still not a small sum of money and for full disclosure, I was able to pay for this school with savings.

What I love about Tante Marie's:
  • So many things! But an important one is they take only 15 students every six months and there is one teacher, a teacher's assistant and a number of special guest appearances. It is an intimate environment, but enough space to focus on your own work. Tip: Get used to the cozy atmosphere, most professional pastry chefs end up with even less room then your working space in class. It helps you remain organized, precise and focused while creating desserts.
Questions you should be able to say "yes" to if you think Tante Marie's is for you:
  • Have you been a home baker for many years? If you have absolutely no foundation to start from, you'll struggle to excel in this course.
  • Do you have the will to practice and learn on your own? In class you have the opportunity to make many things twice, but other recipes, not at all during class and the only way to get better is to practice
  • Can you do a 12 hour day? You should say yes, if you want to be a pastry chef at all ;
  • Will your employer be understanding of your schedule? They may have questions for you, like why you're going to pastry school and if you will leave your current job for it. They'll also might ask if you will bring in treats. At Tante Marie's, we did not bring very many items home from class.
I hope you said yes to all of the above and that now you've been accepted to Tante Marie's!...

Items you may need for class in addition to the chef uniforms and book:
  • Timer that clips on to your clothes (once you're in a professional bakery, you don't get one)
  • Permanent marker (to keep in the pen pocket of your chef uniform)
  • Giant binder to keep all recipes
  • Close-toed shoes you can stand comfortable in for eight hours (Never did I think I would LOVE clogs so much)
Items you must have at home practice:
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Scale (I hope you already have one)
...Don't worry, you'll find plenty of other things you "need" too.

I can't wait to hear from you about your opinions, stories and thoughts about attending Tante Marie's or any other pastry program.

nerd'ing out with my wedding cake

one of my final cakes with sugar flowers

Mary & me, graduation day
My face=literally bloated from no sleep due to baking for three days in preparation

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