Field Trip!

17 Mar

I have been reading and working on the business plan for Sweetie Cakes and Pies!  One major hole in my plan though is that I don’t have any professional training or experience in either business or pastry arts.

I took business classes as an undergrad and I have a lot of experience with marketing and communication.  I feel very confident in analyzing a market and developing communication strategies.  Particularly with social media, but that’s what I do now.  Where I’m  lacking is things like labor relations, business law, taxes, managerial accounting, ect…  but I didn’t get into business school so I’ll be learning these things by my own research and asking for help as needed.

As far as the pastry art goes, I know I’ve got talent, but I am self taught.  I can produce some impressive and delicious cakes but where is the credibility on paper for investors?  There are a few ways to proceed.  First,  just push ahead without any formal training and fight for the product I believe in.  Second, try to get a job where I will gain hands on experience from a professional pastry chef.  Three, go to a reputable culinary school.

I have not settled on any of these options yet and  I am exploring all that is out there.  Next Monday I’ll be visiting and sitting in on a class at the French Culinary Institute in NYC!  I’m really excited about their pastry arts program.  It is six months and you attend class Monday – Friday.  The cake decorating professor is Ron Ben-Israel one of my cake idols! During the six months you learn everything from cookies and tarts to chocolates and cakes the proper french way.  Plus I would finally get to live in NYC for a bit.  I have so many friends there and I miss city life SSSSSSSSSSOOOOOOOOOOO badly.  It would also hopefully allow me the time and open some doors to get an internship in a well established cake shop in NYC.  This would take care of two of my cake credibility issues.

Sounds great right?  All of it sounds perfect until the price tag.  I understand it is a high quality education and that you have to pay for it.  I was willing to take out massive loans for business school but with the expectation that there would be a fairly immediate pay off.  I can’t say the same for pastry school.  With a price tag of $40,000 plus living expenses I am approaching with caution.

Over the next few weeks I should get my official lay off notice and I can talk more candidly with HR about the continuing education options.  There is a grant available from New York State for education of displaced workers, but I have to find out what the fine print is and if I would qualify.  If I did, I’m not sure what the amount of the grant is but I know that you get to keep your unemployment while in school and you don’t have to be looking for a job.  I’m also meeting with the financial aid office next week when I visit The French Culinary Institute.  So I’ll see how low I can get the tuition before I make any final decisions.

In the mean time any thoughts from people who have been in this position before?  I’ve read a lot of horror stories about culinary school but none about the French Culinary Institute and none specifically about pastry programs.  If you have attented the French Culinary Institute I would really apprecaite some feedback of what you thought of the program.

I’ll let everyone know what my impression was next week after I return! 🙂


4 Responses to “Field Trip!”

  1. Danielle March 17, 2010 at 8:34 pm #

    Hey Terry,

    If you can believe it I have been considering the same thing! I’ve been taking recreational baking courses with the Institute of Culinary Education and an Entrepreneur Business Program with a local community college. There is a part of me that feels I don’t need to go back to school for Pastry Arts, but I would love to. There are a few Ithaca Alums- Joe Kalal for one- who did the Pastry Arts program. As far as I can tell he loved it and learned alot. My issue is the same as yours– $$$. I hope it works out!

    • tconigl1 March 18, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

      Hey Danielle,
      Baking and cake decorating is so much fun and very dramatic so I understand why so many of us like it. We’ll have to start an IC Theatre Alumni Turn Pastry Artist Association. Congratulations on the baby!

  2. John Daniels March 18, 2010 at 3:05 am #

    I cant wait till next week to see how you liked it, oh i so want to be a pastry chef for a living! But the prices of the schools are so high! I am actually taking a pastry coarse at a french culinary school and the instructor went there and loved it, she said it opened up alot of doors for her. Hope it goes well, Good Luck!

    • tconigl1 March 18, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

      Thanks! If it is half as good as it appears on line and from alumni I’m sure I’ll love it. But is it worth the $$$$? We’ll find out 🙂

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