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Aug 23, 2009 10:03 PM

Pastry schools in France! HELP!


I'm looking for some advice! I want to go to France to learn to make sweet sweet pastries. But I'm a little at a loss for what school I should be going to. Le Cordon Bleu is of course huge and famous, but is it necessarily better than smaller, independent schools?

Olivier Bajard's school pops up frequently but the timing doesn't work out, same for LeNotre and Ecole national patisserie et boulangerie. The one that does work out is Ecole bellouet conseil, but I've never heard of this school before, and also I can't find much info about it that isn't direct from their website. Anyone know about Bellouet conseil? It had a good reputation 20 years ago...does that reputation still stand? Any other schools to suggest/ward off? :)

Any advice would be great!

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  1. Hello,

    I'm in Paris right now and made a pastry school started in february. At the moment I'm doing my internship.

    I was also looking for a really good school and found "ESCF - Ecole Superieur Cuisin Francaise - Gregoire Ferrandi". It's in the middle of Paris, near Montparnasse and I'm really happy choosing this school. It's an intensive programme with 5 months school, following a 3-6 months internship in a Hotel, shop or restaurant. The programme is really intensive, you learn all the base of pastry and bakery. There is more than 75% practical lessons, and also french language, history of pastry, wine tasting, dessin and as well restaurant service for the school restaurant. The teachers are really passioned and amazing. It's a bilingual programme (english for sure). I can really recommend this school.

    I was also thinking about Cordon Bleu, but i just know, that they have more demonstrating than working itself.

    Olivier Bajard is for sure amazing as well, but when the timing doesn't work out, it will be no opportunity for you, ain't? And Lenotre is also nice.

    I haven't heard of the others.

    A french pastry chef recommended Ferrandi to me, he was long time head pastry chef at Robuchon and I'm still very thankful for this recommendation.

    Here is the link of the school, so you can also watch by yourself


    If you have any questions just ask me,

    Good luck for finding the best school for u.

    21 Replies
    1. re: shirkan

      Hi shirkan,

      Do you happen to know how competitive the admission into the Anglo Pastry program may be? Or do you think most applicants usually get in? I actually applied and am awaiting a response for the Feb 2010 session which I believe will be notified about anytime now.

      Please let me know if you know of any classroom details.. Hope the internship is going great!! :)

      1. re: seva732

        Hi seva732,

        I also applied to the Pastry Arts program in February 2010 and am anxiously waiting for a response. Fingers crossed!

        1. re: clancy_99

          I know how you feel :) I'm really curious to know how the selection process works and if it really is a total of 15-20 max for each session.

          1. re: seva732

            I'll definitely let you know if I hear anything. =D

            1. re: clancy_99

              Hello, I have also applied to the Pastry program for February 2010 and am still waiting. Has anyone been notified yet? I hate to be so "American" about the process but I'm getting a bit nervous. I got an e-mail from Stephanie Curtis which stated that she hopes to be able to give me an answer this month (November). Are you all from the States?

              1. re: piccolina1023

                Wow. Me too! There are a lot of people applying to Ferrandi from this board for Feb 1010. It's Nov. 25, and I haven't heard a thing. Not a good sign. I still have hope. Maybe they'll open another class and add one more instructor so I can get in!!!!! I can still dream.

                Have you guys heard anything yet? The wait is killing me.

                1. re: david t.

                  Hi David t- I did hear from Stephanie Curtis two weeks ago and she said that she is waiting on the director to approve a 3rd class. The first 2 are full and this will allow 10 more students. At this point I'm concerned with visa procedures because the French Consulate in Atlanta is saying that it will take 3 months but I have faith that Ferrandi is well aware of the procedures and they must have a way to work through it. So, I still wait.

                  1. re: piccolina1023

                    That's good news. We still have a chance! When you say the first two are full, do you mean the culinary (1) and pastry class (2) ? Or do they have 2 pastry classes booked up and are making a 3rd?

                    Anyway, I'm worried too. 2 months is really short notice to get my affairs in order concerning financial aid/visas and all that sort of thing. I'd have to scram and do everything the day I get the acceptance letter (hopefully).

                    1. re: david t.

                      It is-what it is, I guess. Unfortunately she didn't specify ,but since I applied to the pastry program, I'm assuming that it's 2 pastry classes and making a 3rd. I noticed from a current culinary student's blog I'm following that there is a culinary A and B class. Each seem to have 10 students. I wrote Stephanie back with some additional questions and to clarify whether I would make it into the 3rd class. I still have yet to get a response. I'm sure it's taking time to find an instructor and to get things together for the class. Please let me know if you hear anything. I was thinking of giving her a call on Monday.

                      1. re: piccolina1023

                        I'll let you know if I hear anything. I may call the school as well to ask some question too.

                        1. re: david t.

                          Well, the bad news is that the 2 classes (10 students each) are filled and I didn't get in. The silver lining is that Stephanie will know by the end of the week whether Ferrandi will approve a third class. (I'm on the waiting list for that). There's been a huge demand for the class this particular session. That's as much of an update that I have as of now. (fingers crossed).

                          1. re: david t.

                            I was told this morning that she will let me know early next week, so we'll see. Sounds like we're in the same boat. When did you apply? I applied at the end of September so I'm not surprised that I didn't make the first two classes.

                            1. re: piccolina1023

                              Me too. I sent it around mid-September. I'm curious to know how many people applied this session. I'm on the list for 2010 if I don't get in this session.

                              1. re: david t.

                                I was reading an article about "Leith's" cookery school in London recently.

                                The gist of the article was that they had seen a massive upturn in their business, for professional rather than amateur programs, as a result of the GFC (global financial crisis). Lots of bankers, lawyers etc taking their redundancy cheques and using the financial cushion to head for a new career in food. I wonder if this is why these courses in Paris are full?

                                The article was also interesting because it reflected on this injection of talent into kitchens; as much more able people enter professional kitchens, high powered university graduates rather than high school leavers, the overall standard of the kitchens should rise. I don't think that was intended to denigrate the able and talented people already in the industry; more a comment that this is currently quite a small group in a vast pool of labour. Hence the mediocrity of the majority of dining experiences.

                                Truth or hype to bolster the numbers of monied applicants for courses?

                                1. re: david t.

                                  Hi david t, Maybe you've heard, they are not doing a 3rd class so I am transferring my application to September. I'm going to be traveling to France for a month in Jan and Feb so I plan to stop by the school and take a tour.
                                  Good luck

                                  1. re: piccolina1023

                                    Yeah, I heard, unfortunately. I'm transferring my application too. Do we need to send another application fee?

                                    1. re: piccolina1023

                                      Have you checked out the Ecole National Superiure de Pâtisserie in Yssingeaux? (I will start working there in January). This is a pastry school run by Alain Ducasse and Yves Thuriès. There are 6 month frograms in French or English as well as 2 month programs in English. I will be changing much of the info on the website in January, but you can look at the old stuff on www.ensp-adf.com.

          2. re: shirkan

            Hi Shirkan,

            Do you have any advice for those getting ready for culinary school? It sounds like you had a great experience at Ferrandi.

            1. re: shirkan

              I don't know if you have taken Anglophone pastry program. I'm in Ferrandi's pastry program now. The class is taught in English. The chef speaks English, which is not very good thus it's often confusing. Compared to the cuisine program, the pastry program is terrible. It's very disorganized and it's not in worth spending 15000 euro for this.

              1. re: shirkan

                hi shirkan,
                I am enrolled for the pastry program at ferrandi for february 2011 course. I believe you have finished your training with them in 2009? I would really appreciate it if you could share your experience for the anglo pastry arts programe with me. You can mail me at sumedhaj@hotmail.co.uk

                1. re: sumedha

                  sumedha, are you sure it's Feb 2011? They told us at their information meeting that there will be no pastry program for early 2011... I wonder if they changed again last minute....

              2. You did not say if you want professional training or just training to make wonderful pastries. If the latter, you can sign up for a couple of dozen half day pasty classes at Lenôtre's Pavillon Élysées. Those should fit any schedule.

                I spent two months in Paris and spread my classes there over that time. The quality of ingredients and products is high, and the teachers excellent. What they teach is making professional quality products in small quantities. You will need a well equipped kitchen at home, with a reliable oven, digital scales and thermometers, tools and molds, etc.

                1. hey how are you?

                  Which school did you end up taking and how what do you think of their program?
                  I'm actually in the proses of choosing which pastrie school I want to go in France... im looking into ENSP as my second choice. My first choice was Ferrandi, but they are already full for the Sept 2010 semester so for now im in the waiting list T_T....

                  1. Hello,
                    Has anyone applied for the ESCF - Ferrandi cuisine program for February 2011? I sent my application at the end of September and I'm hoping to hear back soon ...

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: bardi

                      Hi, I'm in Ferrandi's pastry program now. Compared to the cuisine program, the pastry program is terrible. It's very disorganized and it's not in worth spending 15000 euro for this.

                      1. re: blancgeneration

                        Sorry, I realize this is a pretty old thread, but blancgeneration, could you mind elaborating on that? Do they have adequate facilities? Is the program disorganized, or are the instructors disorganized? Do you dislike the instructors?

                        1. re: blancgeneration

                          Sorry to hear about that blancgeneration...I thought it would be a fantastic program! Did you end up staying and completing the program?

                      2. imprimez123--I was also wondering the same about bellouet conseil. Did you ever manage to find any more information? Their website looks pretty dated...

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: chanjying

                          Wow I don't know what happened but I thought no one ever responded to my original question! I see how wrong I am! :P

                          chanjying--I went to ENSP in the end, for the international program, which had good and bad points. I never heard anything about Bellouet while I was in France for 7 months, swimming in an ocean of pastry chefs and pastry chefs in training, so personally I think it was a good choice not to go to there. Ferrandi and Lenotre seemed the two most popular, and Bajard was a distant 3rd but that doesn't mean it's not reputable or worthwhile. Did anyone else here end up going to pastry school?

                          I'm also looking for a second school, maybe in Japan or New York or something, to further develop pastry...I'm looking to do this as a career, but I know I need more training. Does anyone have any suggestions for THAT? :P

                          1. re: imprimez123

                            The French Pastry School in Chicago, www.frenchpastryschool.com. Worked with a grad from there--a Ph.D in political science, no less--who loved it and was very, very good.

                            1. re: MmePatissiere

                              Is that the school that was featured in the Kings of Pastry film a few years back? I don't think the basic pastry program would work for me, but do they have an intermediate level of pastry classes?

                              1. re: imprimez123

                                Check their website. They've got the 24-week professional program which, like Cordon Bleu where I did my training, is progressive. I've also heard very good things about the French Culinary Institute's Pastry and Baking Arts program.

                                Having said that, if Jacky Pfeiffer got his MOF...my goodness, you couldn't go wrong with either him or Jacques Torres heading up your program.

                            2. re: imprimez123

                              hi imprimez123, would you mind telling me a little more about your experience at ENSP? I've heard some rather negative things about their international program, given that it is very new (inadequate facilities, lack of syllabus). i was thinking that bellouet was perfect due to the timing and price, so if you think ENSP was a good choice i'd love to know why. you can reach me at chanjying at gmail dot com thanks so much!!!

                              1. re: chanjying

                                hey im was a student at the FPA program at the ENSP.a bunch of us posted coments on cheftallk heres the link for more information about the ENSP.


                              2. re: imprimez123

                                Hi imprimez123
                                i just finished a pastry course in Japan, and i won't really recommend it. Unless you have a lot of time and money. I studied at Tsuji institute of patisserie in Osaka. It is considered one of the most famous culinary schools in Japan. And I spent 2,000,000Yen for just a one year course, and not to mention 2 years of learning Japanese, which cost me 1,400,000Yen. Tsuji doesn't teach in english only Japanese. But the only thing I found interesting in Tsuji is that they teach the students Japanese sweets, known as 'wakashi-和菓子'

                                Hope this can help you :)

                                Note: The cost I give out does not include living cost...