Learn how to make high-end pastry

December 10, 2008 4:54:19 AM PST
In October, I went to check out the French Pastry School. The place was a bit of a surprise to me: I would have imagined the best places to learn high end pastry would be at hard-to-access places like the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, as the rare and lucky chef in a hoity-toity New York restaurant or to make your way to one of the best schools or restaurants in Paris or Zurich. Try your hand in the kitchen with these easy recipes!

But it turns out that one of the best places in the world to learn how to make delectable pastry, luxury chocolates and artisan bread is in America's heartland, at the French Pastry School in Chicago. The school is the brain child and heart blood of Jacquy Pfeiffer and Sebastien Canonne, both French ex-pats. They have exceptional credentials and have cooked for everyone from European heads of state to the Sultan of Brunei. They both through they were on short work jaunts to Chicago; now years later they are graduating two classes a year into the food industry and conducting special seminars for both professionals and amateur food enthusiasts.

The classes are mostly less than $1000 and last a week or less. It's a nice gift if someone in your life loves pastry. But it's also a thought if this economy has you down and looking for a new life path. The Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that the hospitality industry is the third largest employer in the country, behind the government and health care. Restaurant experts project there will be 1 million new jobs opening up in dining and bars in the next decade, despite the economic crisis.

Indeed, Jackie and Sebastien estimate 70-percent of their students are career changers. A week at FPS is a good way to decide if you natural skill with sweets is worth refining by going for the full degree. If nothing else you'll walk out with a deeper understanding of food fundamentals---not just how food behaves but also why----and some great new recipes.

Click here to find more details on FPS: www.frenchpastryschool.com

Or if sugar is not your game or you want options closer to home, check out these local food programs:

Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College: www.therestaurantschool.com

Art Institute: http://www.artinstitutes.edu/philadelphia/Academics/Default.aspx?discipline=8

Drexel: http://www.drexel.edu/goodwin/programs/cula/default.asp

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