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Pastry Chef V.S Chef , Salary , Hours , Just Everything!!

Im considering attending the FCI soon , and im undecided on weather to take the Pastry course or the Classic Culinary Arts. What kind of Jobs Can i Expect to get offered after graduating , can someone tell me how it is "in the Day OF a Pastry Chef" I heard that they are much more content and work less hours than Other Chefs. Im In NYC so what would be the starting pay?? what would be the starting position ? if i take the Classic Culinary course will i start off as a line cook in a top restaurant or a bit higher? how many hours are in a Pastry Chefs work day?

Also is the FCI looked down on or held up on a pedestal , being that they dont offer degrees , im assuming certificates right ??

sorry for all the questions , i just need to make an informed decision.

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  1. Well, all I know is that, anecdotally, pastry chefs tend to work near bakers hours, starting at 2am-4am.

    If you want to be up and around during normal hours, it may not be the gig for you.

    2 Replies
    1. re: meadandale

      chefs of any stripe do not work "normal hours." pastry chefs can often get away w working weird hours, but the thing is they may work 3 hours here, 4 hours there in a day at different establishments. pay etc will totally depend on type of work performed and skill level. sometimes the pay will not be based on hours spent, bur rather by the piece-- $0.75/individual dessert, $10 whole pie/cake, etc. (where the pastry chef does not pay for ingredients, the restaurant does). i don't think anyone gets "offered" jobs out of culinary school, no matter how brilliant they are they have to go out and find work. nobody in their right mind would hire someone fresh out of culinary school for an executive position. you will need to do your time in the trenches, (and distinguish yourself and your work first) like everybody else.

      1. re: soupkitten

        I guess my point is that as a pastry chef, you are more likely to be working in the middle of the night. Every thing else considered, I'd consider those hours 'abnormal' inre hours you'd work as non-pastry chef.

        YMMV

    2. >>if i take the Classic Culinary course will i start off as a line cook in a top restaurant or a bit higher?

      Sorry, no, you won't. It doesn't matter which school you go to, nobody is going to hire a new grad as a line cook at a top restaurant. You have to work your way up, like everyone else. Graduating from a culinary school prepares you *start* working in restaurants, not jump in command a high salary.

      As far as which course to take, which do you like to do more? That should be your decision maker more than anything else.

      8 Replies
      1. re: manraysky

        Depends. I know a couple of people who graduated from the CIA and started off as line cooks at Tabla and Lever House. While not on the caliber of Daniel and Per Se, they are decent restaurants in NYC.

        btw, they are not working in restaurants anymore. A lot of people go to cooking school and decide it's not for them after they graduate. Stickybuns, if you don't have experience in the field, I would highly recommend that you do so before you plunk down a load of cash.

        1. re: Miss Needle

          "btw, they are not working in restaurants anymore. A lot of people go to cooking school and decide it's not for them after they graduate. Stickybuns, if you don't have experience in the field, I would highly recommend that you do so before you plunk down a load of cash."

          Stickybuns: from eveything I have read, here on these boards, and elsewhere, this is the very best advice you will probably get.

          1. re: Miss Needle

            Stickybuns, if you don't have experience in the field, I would highly recommend that you do so before you plunk down a load of cash.
            ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
            I've been in this field a long time and that is solid advice. The CIA wants six months in the field minimum to get accepted. There are only a few really good schools worth the money out side of CC. Even as a graduate from the CIA you will be starting as the FNG. I've had several CIA graduates work for me. Most not worth the powder to blow themselves up. At least two did not have the first clue about what a real kitchen was like and they managed to waste a LOT of $$$ in culinary school. Get a job and work in this field for a year before school. If you can't cut it FCI surely won't help.
            A pastry Chef is very specialized. You need a lot more talent to succeed there but if you do the pay can be very good.

            1. re: Docsknotinn

              Problem with culinary schools is that even though they ask for prior experience if you have enough money they won't really care. Then you get a whole bunch of people stuck in dreamland coming into the business.

              1. re: Blueicus

                It's true - one of my friends' daughter is just graduating from CIA's pastry program and she had absolutely zilcho experience prior. But she actually landed a pretty nice job right out of school. It's not a top Manhattan kitchen or anything like that but it is a very well respected local restaurant and the key for her was they are allowing her a lot of creative rein. She was very lucky...

                1. re: flourgirl

                  Just wanted to mention that the two people I know who graduated from the CIA didn't really have the experience. One person had family in the restaurant industry and the other person got the rec from a friend in the industry. So perhaps if they actually had the experience, they may have realized that this field wasn't for them.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    I absolutely agree with you. I don't think it's wise to undertake the expense of such an education without first giving yourself a chance to make sure that this is the right field for you.

                2. re: Blueicus

                  Absolutly true. They ask for six months but if you can write the check they will take your money. The culinary arts is still a field that so many approach with zero experience. The % of culinary school graduates that will never work a full year in this field is staggering. I think any one considering culinary school should spend at least a year working in a real kitchen first. Those who do in my experience get a LOT more out of school because they go in knowing what to expect. I've known several who worked for a few years then went to school. Those people have all excelled.

          2. In my personal experience, a baker and a cook are two completely different animals. When I was in culinary school, you could walk by a culinary lab and a baking lab and just feel the difference in personality. You need to figure out what you love and where you fit. then do that. A baker would be miserable on the line and a cook would be miserable in a bakery. Bakers are much more methodical, much more precise. Cooks tend to have a little bit more of a wild streak about them.

            This is just speaking in generalities, of course. exceptions are rampant, I am sure.

            1. Try a volunteer internship to see what it's really like to be a Pastry Chef, do the same at a restaurant if you've never worked in a professional kitchen. The culinary industry is full of hardworking, talented people that are usually overworked & underpaid, if you are picking a career path based on which will get you into a more prestigous kitchen with higher pay and less hours...best wishes. Talent, great work ethic and luck may get you into that kitchen, but once there, the crappy pay and long hours will only be worth it if you love what you do. Cheers!

              1. Starting pay is $10/hr and starting position is 'fucking new guy' in both fields. In pastry, you might gain independence a little more quickly, but ultimately you'll probably only make $75% of what your savory counterparts do. Sometimes pastry works longer hours than line cooks, but as for a shorter day, sometimes that means only 14 hours instead of the sous chefs' 16, lucky you.

                What's drawing you to the FCI, and what appeals to you in pastry/savory?

                1 Reply
                1. re: babette feasts

                  Sometimes pastry works longer hours than line cooks, but as for a shorter day, sometimes that means only 14 hours instead of the sous chefs' 16, lucky you.

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