The French Pastry School

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On Monday I will be starting The French Pastry School’s L'Art de la Pâtisserie program.  I will be going to school full time (Monday-Friday) for six months.  The school is located downtown Chicago.

If you’ve been a long-time reader, you know how long I’ve been waiting for this.  I was wanting this even before I started writing this blog five years ago.  I’ve always loved food and cooking, but my appreciation grew when I visited France for the first time during my senior  in high school.  I’m not going to lie and say that everything I ate there was amazing.  Some of it was bad, but some of it was very good and memorable.  I focused on the food there more than anything.  I can’t remember a lot of things about that trip, but I do remember all my meals and where I had them.  I remember the cassis ice cream, the pain au chocolate and flaky croissants, the apple tart and the chocolate mousse.  I remember visiting a candy shop in Nice and how exciting that was. 

Something happened on that trip – I’d found my calling.  Flying back home, I knew what I wanted to do with my life and haven’t looked back since.  I can’t think of any other career that I would be so passionate about.  As long as I’m working with food, I’ll be happy.

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I didn’t know then that I wanted to go into pastry.  That’s something I’ve figured out since then.  I love cooking AND baking, so it was hard for me to decide.  But I’m not fileting fish and making beurre blanc every night.  In fact, I don’t even like fish!  There, I said it.  I’m not cut out to be a chef. 

I love baking cakes, cookies and pies every night and it never gets old.  I love eating cakes, cookies and pie every night and it never gets old.  Have I mentioned I have a huge sweet tooth? 

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Deciding on a school was difficult; it has taken me years to pick the right one and save enough money (since graduating high school).  I had a couple of options I considered. 

-The French Pastry School (obviously)
-The Institute of Culinary Education (New York City)
-The French Culinary Institute (New York City)
-The Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, New York)
-The Notter School of Pastry Arts (Orlando, Florida)
-Escoffier (Boulder, Colorado)
-Johnson & Wales (Denver, Colorado)

…and more.   The application process was basically filling out a simple application and writing a check.  The French Pastry School required an application, transcripts, essays, and written recommendations.  I’m glad, too.  I want to go to school with students who are as serious as I am.  I’m grateful for my friend, Sue, of Food Network Musings who wrote me a recommendation for school.  Thank you so much, Sue!
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Other determining factors:
-Their six month pastry program was exactly what I was looking for.
-They have an impressive alumni. 
-Lower tuition than than most of the schools (although still steep)
-Lower cost of living than New York.
-Close enough to home where I could still visit.
-The school kitchens were huge, clean and organized.
-And finally, watching Kings of Pastry sealed the deal.

Over the six months I’ll be covering Food Service Safety & Sanitation, Breads & Breakfast Pastries. Sugar Confectionery, Chocolate Confectionery, Chocolate and Sugar Decoration and Sculpture. Ice Cream and Sorbet, Plated Desserts, French Cakes and Tarts, Petits Fours and Miniature Pastries, Celebration Cake Making and Decorating.

It’s important to me to do well and get a good job from this experience.  I’m planning on blogging every day after school and showing you what I learn.  That’s what I’m hoping, anyway.  That’s important for you to know because my blog will be changing for the six months I’m in school.  I won’t have a lot of recipes to share with you since I’ll be baking so much at school and won’t want to bake when I get home.  Or maybe I will…. but probably not.  Hopefully you’ll like the pastry school posts and a few Chicago posts thrown in there.

I hope you all have a good weekend!  I’m off to look for some flats for the first week of school.  We won’t be in the kitchens, so we have to wear business-casual with closed toed shoes.  I only have sandals, sneakers and boots!  Must look my best on the first day of school.

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102 comments:

  1. I'm so excited for you! (and a little jealous ;) ) I'm a long time reader and know how hard you've been working towards this. Can't wait to hear updates along the way. Bonne chance!

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  2. I am beyond excited and so proud that you are chasing your dreams. Good luck! I hope you keep posting though. I've been waiting for some amazing pies from you! :)

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  3. I'm so excited to read about your adventures! I am starting the culinary arts program at Johnson & Wales this fall and relocating to Denver from Kansas City. After 4 years at a "regular college," I feel your excitement!!

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    1. OH Johnson & Wales! That's where you're going. That's going to be amazing! Good luck!

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  4. Best of luck with school, this sounds like one hell of an opportunity! I look forward to your posts -- they will definitely be just as exciting as new recipes, if not more :)


    Kim
    xokwhit12xo@aim.com

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  5. Congrats! You've made it! So excited for you and I look forward to reading along :)

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  6. Oh, Em I am so excited for you! Your dream is coming true and I'm so happy we can see it come to life right here on your blog. I know you are going to do just great. Can't wait to see it unfold.

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  7. I've been reading Sugar Plum for a long time as well, so congrats on finally making your dream a reality! I can hardly wait to read all your pastry school updates! You are going to do great Emily!

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  8. I've been reading Sugar Plum for a long time as well, so congrats on finally making your dream a reality! I can hardly wait to read all your pastry school updates! You are going to do great Emily!

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  9. SO EXCITED and happy for you. Really looking forward to hearing about all that you do and learn at school. xxx

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  10. Good luck and have a great time!I'm so happy for you. Does this mean your recipes are going to get even better?!? WHOA! Now I'm really excited! I love all your recipes already!!

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  11. Emily, Congratulations on making your dream a reality! I can't wait to read about your experiences. And I'm totally with you that eating dessert every single night never, ever gets old. Here's to many more nights of fabulous desserts!

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  12. I totally agree with Amanda. I'm a long time reader and am so excited for you! Lucky Eric will get to taste so many new and interesting pastries :) You're living the dream!

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    1. Thanks for reading for so long! I don't deserve you!

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  13. Emily you are going to be an incredible student!! I'm so excited for you and am looking forward to reading about your adventures in sugar art :)

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  14. Good luck, Emily! I can't wait to see all of your pastry creations--you are so talented! :)

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  15. I love reading your blog and have been a fan of yours for quite some time now. Best of luck in pastry school! You are going to LOVE it!!! I myself just finished a Certificate program in Professional Baking and Pastries and I had so much fun with it. When people like us have such a passion for baking, it's easy to do well in school! I ended up with a 4.0 and learned SO MUCH!!!! Don't be nervous, you'll feel right at home after your first couple of days. Get used to wearing "chef whites" and becoming a pro at baking! You are going to do amazing! Feel free to read my blog at www.kathiecooks.blogspot.com and click on the link "Culinary School". I took several classes that are very similar to what you'll be taking. :)

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    1. Hi Kathie! I need to check out your blog! Congratulations on your new degree and such good grades!

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  16. Good luck Emily! Your passion for baking SHINES through on this blog, and this is such a natural step for you. I'm excited to read along over the next 6 months!

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  17. Best of luck Emily!! Good for you for discovering your true passion and following your dreams, though the road may have been long. There can only be great things ahead of you! Looking forward to hearing all about pastry school over the next months! After a few years, your blog still remains my favourite.

    Your fan and follower, Jen

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    1. Oh man. These comments are making me teary!

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  18. Good luck, Emily! I am very excited for you and look forward to reading more about your adventures in French Pastry School!

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  19. I know I rarely comment but I just had to wish youluck.
    If I had to do it all over again I would have gone to johnson & wales in RI instead of harvard. lol Seriously.
    My passion for food was discovered later in life, I want to go back, but hubby is going for PhD and we are paying off my student loans; then his, so it's so out of the question now.
    So happy for you girl. Keep us updated so I can live vicariously through you. lol

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    1. I didn't know you read! I need to visit your blog more. I do read, though. You're so talented.

      J&W in RI is such an amazing school. It's not too late! You have to go someday.

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  20. And don't be nervous----this stuff comes naturally to us foodies, so you'll breeze through. Promise

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  21. Good luck with school, Emily! So excited for your new adventure!!

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  22. Super excited for you! Good luck!! You will be amazing.

    ~Angela

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  23. You are totally going to rock in pastry school! I can't wait to read all about your experiences and see the amazing things you're going to be making. So excited for you. All the best of luck (though with your skill, you definitely don't need it).

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  24. Wow how exciting! I'm also jealous of you. I looked into a bakery school before deciding on uni. Would love to hear all about your experiences and anything you bake. Maybe even a few recipes!
    Good luck and enjoy!!!!

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  25. WOW this is awesome! Congratulations and I can't wait to read more about your pastry school experiences!

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  26. So happy to see you finally starting yourself down the road to your dream!

    YOu cracked me up with the chef/fish comments. That's one of the reasons I decide not to pursue a culinary career. I was on the brink of going back to school. I was seriously considering the ICE (back when it was still Peter Kump's), but I knew I was just too much of a picky eater. Even now, knowing I'm willing to cook fish for SPP, I never know if my fish dishes are good because I refuse to eat them! When I'm in Chincoteague I see people shucking clams and oysters and it just squicks me. I know I can't be a chef.

    While I love baking, I'm a klutz with delicate work like pastry crusts and decorating. I can make stuff that tastes good, but everything is sloppy. Pastry arts are definitely not for me either. I decided to continue my career path of trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.

    I'm so happy you found your passion and have made a way to pursue it. I can't wait to read your cooking school stories!

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    1. I love that we both don't like fish.

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  27. Good luck, Emily! You have come such a long way since serving at Lambert's - Home of the Throwed Rolls!! :-) I know how much this means to you and how long you have worked for it. You will excel in this - you are a natural! I'm so anxious to read about your new adventures!
    jane @ Battlefield, Missouri

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    1. Thanks, Jane! Sometimes I miss those rolls...

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  28. Thinking of you tomorrow morning...the FPS is so lucky to have you!

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  29. CONGRATS! i'm so excited for you & am looking forward to saying that i knew you(r blog) when...

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  30. Bonne chance ! et à bientôt la suite....

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  31. How exciting Emily - I can't wait to hear more about your journey :)

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  32. I really enjoy following your blog, and I'm so excited you'll be going to pastry school--excited for you, but also looking forward to hearing what it's like, since it's something I've thought about doing myself! Good luck!

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    1. I think it's going to be a great experience!

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  33. congrats! you will do so well! and honestly, i am super jealous of your new adventure!

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  34. Wonderful, wonderful news. Not that I'm at all envious, of course ... ;-) But then, I haven't put in the huge amount of work that you have to make this dream come true. You deserve every last ounce of your success - go enjoy it! x

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    1. Aww. You should go to French Pastry School, too!

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  35. Good luck, Emily. Will you have a chance to take pictures while you are in school? Your blog posts about what you do in school will be a good start for your future book. ;)

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    1. Whoo hoo! I can take pictures, but not video. I can't go into great detail about what we cover, either. Which is understandable.

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  36. So happy that you're following your dreams! seems like that is getting rarer these days. :)

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  37. I'm so excited for you!! I've been reading your blog for a few years, so I know how much this must mean to you!

    PS - I am excited to hear about what you learn in school - that course list sounds really awesome :)

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    1. Thanks for reading! I know! It seems like we cover just about everything. I can't wait.

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  38. I've been following your blog for quite some time and am so excited for you! I can't wait to hear all about it! Good luck tomorrow!

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  39. Tomorrow really is the first day in the rest of your life! Although it's really just an extension of everything you've done up to now to get here. Congratulations - I know you'll have a great time there and you certainly deserve it.

    It's so terrific to see somebody make their dreams a reality - especially someone who's been sharing her talents with all of us so generously. Have a good "first day at school" - do you have your new backpack and pencils all ready?? Pictures - we need pictures of you setting off for your first day!

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    1. Aww thank you! I have my pb&j all packed!

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  40. I can hardly wait for you to begin the rest of your life. And now, you know, you have to tell us EVERY LITTLE THING you do in pastry school....

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    1. I can't! I think I might have to be kind of vague with my posts. I don't want to get in trouble.

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  41. Congrats Emily, I'm so glad you're living your dream :) Can't wait to hear about your adventures, too!

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  42. Have a great first day! Can't wait to hear about it :)

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  43. That is so awesome!!! I am excited for you girl :-) Have fun, and I can't wait to hear all about your experiences!!!!!

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  44. Wishing you all the best as you start this new adventure! I can't wait to read about all you are up to in the coming months.

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  45. you may be in school this very minute--i hope it's going well!

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  46. Good luck today Emily! I bet you can't wait to dive in.

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  47. Have a great first day!!! So happy you get the chance to do this!

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  48. Congratulations for not only finding your passion but following your dreams! Best of luck and I can't wait to learn vicariously through you (:

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    1. Thanks for reading, Danielle! You're s a longtime reader!

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  49. Have a wonderful time at the school of your dreams! I have never been to France, but I am visiting Paris for the first time in 26 days! I can't wait.

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  50. Buena suerte! You're going to be awesome!

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  51. I've been reading your blog for years and LOVE when you write about restaurants/products you've tried. Your adventures so far in Chicago are always so exciting to read and I cannot wait to hear all about life in pastry school. Very excited that you get to live your dream and look forward to reading about your experiences. So proud of you and enjoy school!

    Amy

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  52. Congratulations! Excited to hear all about it!

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  53. I just wanted to add my best wishes. I have loved reading your blog and trying your recipes. Also, some of your comments have given me the giggles and after all a smile is ALMOST as good as dessert. Good luck!

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  54. Yay!!! How wonderful and exciting, congrats!! One of my sisters had a similar experience with becoming a chef and I remember gathering all the info about schools and showing her that she really could do it. She decided on the Culinary Institute of America and been happily working in the field ever since. I can't wait to read all about your experiences!!

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    1. Wow, that's awesome! Good for her. You're a great sister!

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  55. You are truly amazing! What a wonderful adventure this -- and your new city -- is going to be. Do keep us updated -- I'm pulling for you!

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  56. I only know you through your blog but wow, I feel like such a proud momma!!

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  57. Best of luck today. Can't wait to see all the yummy goodies you get to make & eat! :)

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  58. Congratulations on starting a new chapter in your life! I'm sure you are super excited! I'm excited to see what your classes are like and read about them. I thought about going to culinary school or baking school, but I've decided instead to become a dietitian. It sure feels good to find out what you are meant to do, right?

    I'm positive you will do great! :)

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    1. Good luck! I think that's a great career move. I think nutrition is very interesting.

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  59. So excited for you! And a wee bit jealous, too! =)

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  60. Let the games begin! Can't wait to read about your up-coming adventures.....

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  61. i am so excited for u! you're gonna be the top student in class!

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  62. I'm really excited for you! I have been reading your blog for the last few years and I know how much you've been looking forward to this. Good luck with everything, you'll be just fine :)

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  63. Good luck with school! I am really interested to hear what the program is like!

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  64. Congratulations! You have worked so hard and so single-mindedly for this. I am excited for you. I, too, am an aspiring pastry chef and I stumbled onto your blog Googling recipes. I am also a Chicago native. I appreciate your assessment of the available pastry schools and I will keep that in mind if I ever go. Best of luck!

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  65. I am so so happy and proud of you! That is awesome! I can not wait to see where this will take you!

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  66. OMG girl! I am SOOOO freaking excited for you! And jealous. It occurred to me recently that I want to go to pastry school. I had no idea how many schools there were out there though. You have given me some things to think about and I look forward to living vicariously through you and your blog as you embark on this amazing journey!

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  67. Love your post about starting school! I'll be checking back regularly for updates. I just got done with my undergrad in austin and am starting pastry school at the illinois art institute of Chicago in October :) Good luck! and I hope to read more about your adventures at school.

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