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Baking Classes at Top Culinary Schools: Is it worth it?

January 22nd, 2013

Since you were a child you’ve always dreamed of having your own bake shop and creating mouthwatering desserts and pastries that your neighborhood will want to keep coming back to. What better way to fulfill that dream than to enroll in baking classes at one of the top culinary schools in the country. But the costs of tuition at these schools can be quite prohibitive prompting various sectors to question the value of a culinary school education in jumpstarting a career in the culinary industry.

Cost/Benefit Ratio of Culinary Schools

Graduates of culinary schools and those who are only planning to enroll have been raising the issue of soaring tuition costs at culinary schools. Tuition fees alone could begin at $25,000 dollars and this does not even include other incidental costs. Enrolling in top culinary schools could cost someone as much as $100,000 in overall fees. After finishing school, graduates are unable to find jobs that will allow them to begin a decent career in their chosen field, much less to pay off tuition loans that they have made. Sometimes it seems to graduates that they would have been better off apprenticing instead, which is what other industry insiders likewise suggest.

The Toil from the Bottom

A lot of chefs would be the first to tell you that enrolling in baking classes at these top schools is not enough to expect a brilliant career as a pastry chef. There is still so much hard work involved to climb to the top, and yes, you will have to start somewhere in the bottom before you can get anywhere near the top. Successful chefs say it took them about 10 years to reach where they are now, enjoying the fruits of their tough labor. So if you took out a loan for your tuition fee at a culinary school, it would probably take you the same number of years to pay off that loan, too.

Making Connections Through Baking Classes

Despite these pronouncements though, there are still benefits to studying at top culinary schools. One of the main things wannabe pastry chefs are after aside from learning from the best is getting to know the leaders of the industry in the hopes of becoming an intern and eventually getting hired. This is true for most people, but in order to get noticed by the top chefs you will also have to shine from among the pack of several others who are also trying to outshine everyone else. If you are confident in your skills, then you will have no problem with this.

Developing Expertise at Top Culinary Schools

Defenders of culinary schools continue to assert that enrolling in a baking or pastry program is the quickest way for you to gain expertise in this field. These programs do not normally last as long as other culinary programs so they shouldn’t cost as much, and you will able to reap the rewards more quickly. Learning from various top pastry chefs in the industry is an experience you cannot gain quickly through other means.

Whether you do decide to enroll in baking classes at top culinary schools or not, these are some things you should consider first. Weigh the pros and cons, but don’t ever give up on your dream.

Do You Really Need Cupcake Classes?

January 17th, 2013

Cupcakes have become quite the craze. People love them because they’re delicious and fun. Plus, you don’t have to buy a whole cake to enjoy these sumptuous sweets. You can have as many different flavors as you want in one go. Like anyone with a sweet tooth though, there comes a time when you’re no longer content with just buying cupcakes from your neighborhood bakeshop. You want to make your own mouthwatering creations. So you think about cupcake classes. But do you really need one?

Starting with the Basic Cake

If you’ve been baking almost all your life, you should know that all you need to come up with the perfect cupcake is a dependable cake batter, and the rest is up to your creativity. There are three most popular cupcake bases that anyone who wants to start making them should learn about.

The basic Yellow Cake is the quintessential cake for birthdays, weddings and so many other celebrations because it is versatile enough for any type of icing, topping, and can even be tinted to match a color theme.

Who doesn’t love a Moist Chocolate Cake? Surely, you have an heirloom recipe from your grandmother of this decadent cake that will never fail to make mouths water. Topped with buttercream icing or a decadent cream cheese frosting, no individual will dare to resist such a treat.

The Red Velvet Cake has risen to great popularity in recent years. There have been debates on how exactly it came about, some referring to a chemical reaction between cocoa powder and vinegar for its distinctive color. Today though, most bakers just use gel food color to achieve this deep red hue. And of course, the classic choice of topping is a cream cheese frosting.

Cupcake Classes on Decorating

If there is a baking class you need to enroll in to further your cupcake making interests, it should probably be on decorating. There are certain techniques that you need to know in order to create those intricate designs.

For instance, piping tips are some of the most important things to consider first when developing your designs. Piping tips come in different shapes and size and you need to have the right one that will suit your needs. There are also tricks you can learn on how to pipe icing to get your desired design and a hands-on class should be just the perfect way to learn them.

The type of icing to use is also another consideration; the basic types of icing being buttercream, royal icing, and fondant. If you wish to come up with the really complex designs you’ll probably need to know how to handle fondant. Apart from these three, there are also other elements you need to tie up the whole look of your cupcake such as sprinkles, colored sugar crystals, and the like.

Once you’ve learned the basics, you can move on to making cupcakes for every celebration and every season. Fill up a dessert buffet with all sorts of cupcake designs, or gift your friends on Christmas with specially designed Christmas-themed cupcake. Once you’ve perfected this art after a few cupcake classes, you’ll be well on your way to being the next cupcake girl on TV.

Cupcake Decorating Classes: What You Need to Know

January 12th, 2013

Looking through bakery shop windows, you immediately salivate when you see those gorgeous looking cupcakes with their fancy frostings. This makes you want to instantly buy a couple and gobble them all up. More often than not, the lure of cupcakes start with these elaborate designs. So if you want to make your own creations appealing, it is important to enroll in some cupcake decorating classes. Remember, though, that practice makes you perfect and there are some techniques you develop on your own as you go along. Here are some basic tips from seasoned cupcake artists.

Cheat’s Way To A Good Base – No Baking Classes Needed

If you’re not really a great baker and have no special recipe for the yummiest cupcake but you still want to make themed cupcakes for your kid’s special birthday, a no-fail method is to just grab one of those boxes of pre-mixed cake batter. All you have to add are a couple of eggs, maybe some oil or water and you’re set to bake them. Once you have your base cupcake ready, you can head in for the more creative work of decorating them.

It’s All About The Tips

The beauty of swirls on top of cupcakes all depends on the kind of tip you use on your piping bag. For really big swirls, use the extra large tips such as the French star or the open star. These are perfect for making elegant flower-like icing on top of the cupcakes. To make little rosettes, use the closed star tips in small sizes. Cupcake decorating classes can show you more of the intricacies of cupcake decorating such as how to create really elegant looking designs.

Cupcake Decorating Classes: Buttercream, Royal or Fondant?

There are several types of icing used to decorate both cakes and cupcakes, each with its own benefits. The most common among them are buttercream, royal icing and fondant.

Buttercream is the most basic and all-purpose icing that any beginner cupcake maker should learn to make. It has a very silky and stable texture so it spreads nicely on top of cakes, and holds its form well. It is versatile enough to be used as smooth icing to cover the cupcake and add borders and decoration such as leaves and flowers, as well as to write wordings.

Royal Icing is the kind that hardens after a period of time. This is the type of icing used in making flowers, figures and in decorating sugar cookies.

Fondant is the type of icing that provides a smooth and satiny surface. It is also most commonly used in making complex figures because it is can be easily molded and cut.

Now you have the basic knowledge, all you have to do is practice the different designs that you see in the shop windows. But if you aspire to really be a great cupcake baker like the DC girls, it’s best to enroll in cupcake decorating classes to get all the information and practice that you need.

Get to Know Pastry Chef Education: What’s In, What’s Not

January 7th, 2013

If you are curious as to what pastry chef education is all about and how it can possibly help you for your future career, then read this basic information that can help you decide whether or not this is the right course and job for you later on. Also, know what’s in and what’s not when it comes to this type of education.

Get to Know Pastry Chef Education

Aspiring pastry chefs can now gain knowledge and experience when it comes to this field by acquiring a certificate program, a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree. This specific program is designed to help aspiring chefs learn the basics of pastry decorating and preparation among other things.

1. What’s In. If you underwent a pastry chef course or degree, then it is expected that you were able to hone all the necessary skills that will equip you and make you fit for a job in this industry. All companies that are hiring pastry chefs require that these people are graduates of culinary arts schools or schools that are certified for being knowledgeable and qualified in training these types of individuals.

In this case, as a pastry chef, you can have a lot of career options. The most common job opportunities that are also considered to be high in demand and definitely “in” in today’s world include jobs in restaurants, cafes and hotels wherein you will be required to design cakes, pastries, and all other types of treats.

2. What’s Out. On the other hand, other jobs for people who finish with a pastry chef education that are not considered to be in demand are jobs that will require you to design and bake pastries in small business establishments or school canteens because these jobs wouldn’t give you the right experience you need to get better at the job on hand.

Pastry Chef Education Tips

This is why if you’re really interested in becoming a good pastry chef in the future, consider opening your own business wherein you can be your own boss and create all the tastiest pastries you can think of. You can hire other people that you can train for the job as well. Although this type of business would cost you a huge amount of money, there’s also a huge chance that you will be getting double your return of investments if you’re really good at it.

So now that you know all these important facts and information about pastry chef education, never lose heart for pursuing your passion especially if this is really what you want to do. Enter into the best school that can train you to become the best that you can be and gain as much knowledge as you can while you’re there. After you graduate, get into the real world with so much confidence and open your own pastry business and earn as much money as you can for something that you truly love to do.

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How to Take Charge of Your Life through Healthy Cooking Classes

January 2nd, 2013

How many times have you been reminding yourself to eat healthy and live a healthier lifestyle? For the many times you’ve been telling yourself this, have you ever really been successful at it? Truth is, living a healthy style can be difficult especially if this is your first time to embark on it but you can take charge of your life by joining some healthy cooking classes now.

Healthy Cooking Classes: Things to Consider When Going to One

  1. What are they? First and most importantly, cooking classes that are designed to focus on preparing and cooking the healthiest of dishes is one of the best things you can engage in if you wish to transform your life. If you have been dealing with some weight problems for quite some time now, then starting to learn how to cook healthy dishes can help free yourself from it.
  2. What make these cooking classes different? Of course, the most obvious difference is the fact that everything you will be preparing is healthy. This way, you can familiarize yourself on how to prepare the healthiest of dishes and actually do it at home and start changing your eating habits as well.
  3. How much do these type of cooking classes cost? Truth is, this type of cooking class is a little bit more expensive than ordinary types of cooking classes. This is because the ingredients that you will be using as well as the dishes that you will be preparing are more high-end. But at the end of the day, the benefits you will be reaping like improving your health and your lifestyle in general should be more than worth it to spend this much money on.
  4. Where to enroll? If you are interested in finally trying out this kind of cooking class, then lucky for you there are a lot of options out there. Some classes can be located in your area while others can take place online. It’s up to you now to choose which among the two options is better and more feasible for your schedule.

How to Change Your Life with Healthy Cooking Classes

Every after class, make sure to take note of the dishes that you prepared because this is the only way for you to remember how to cook them when you’re already at home. List down all the tips you will be getting from your classes so that the minute you enroll in one you can already say that you’re letting go of your unhealthy eating habits in the past.

Since you have finally come to realize that indeed, health is wealth, take great advantage of these healthy cooking classes you will be enrolling yourself into, not only for yourself but also for your entire household. In the end, your entire family will benefit from your healthy cooking and all of you will have a happier, healthier and longer life to live.

How to Keep Your Relationship Aflame with Couples Cooking Classes

December 28th, 2012

There are a lot of reasons why you might be interested in couples cooking classes. For some, it’s because they wish to engage in a whole new experience that they’ve never tried before. While of others, it may be because they wish to use their training for their business ventures. These types of cooking classes can generally help you keep the flame of your relationship alive in a more ways than one. Here’s how.

Constant Interaction

One of the best reasons why cooking classes designed for couples are effective and helpful in strengthening relationships is because it requires constant interaction. A couple cannot function in the kitchen without talking to each other and basically agreeing on things. This is why if your relationship is on the rocks at the moment, this might be a great opportunity for you to keep your relationship alive.

Couples Cooking Classes Require Teamwork

Likely, couples cooking classes are all about teamwork. At the end of every session, no matter what it is that you are going through at home, you would be left with any option but to agree on what you will be preparing as well as the ingredients that you will be using. If you are reminded on both your ability to work as a team, then you will also be reminded of how wonderful your relationship once was.

Fulfilling Experience

After you’ve created a dish during every session, you will automatically be fulfilled because all your hard work and the effort you’ve put into a class has paid off. Since you are with your partner, you will have no other option but to feel fulfilled together. This kind of feeling is always great to remind you that you can do so many things together as long as you work as one.

Couples Cooking Classes Foster Creativity

Another great thing about this kind of class is that it helps foster both your creativity. If you happen to be both artistic, then you will really fall in love with this kind of class. Your creativity will also be put into good use not only when thinking about new dishes to prepare but also when it comes to designing your plates as unique as possible.

Wonderful Bonding Experience

Last but not the least, attending this type of class as a couple can serve as a wonderful bonding experience. Forget about shopping, watching movies or dining out when you can simply engage in a unique couple’s class that you will definitely love and enjoy.

If you wish to try attending couples cooking classes, make sure that you do it now. Chances are there are a lot of classes and schedules you can choose from in your area alone. Remember, if you want to keep the flame of your partnership alive then this is really one of the best options that you have and in the end you will realize that this is really effective.

Top 5 Things to Consider When Looking for Chef Schools Abroad

December 23rd, 2012

Are you gifted when it comes to cooking and preparing all types of dishes? If yes, then it’s important to hone your craft by enrolling in the best chef schools you can ever find. If you do not have any options in your area or country, then going after some culinary arts schools abroad might be a better idea. Here are some things you to consider when looking for schools abroad.

5 Things to Consider When Looking for Chef Schools

  1. Curriculum. One of the first things you need to take into account when it comes to choosing a culinary arts school is the kind of curriculum they are offering. Are you looking at a two-year or four-year program? What are some information that you’ve gathered about the school, its graduates and everything related to it? Since you are opting to study abroad to become a good chef, all these things are important and should be considered.
  2. Tuition Fee. Another thing you need to consider is the tuition fee you will be required to pay. Let’s assume that you will be getting into the school as a normal student and not as a scholar so then you would have to pay for all your expenses. Make sure to compare the prices for tuition fees in other equally competitive schools and make sure too that the tuition school required by your school of choice fits your budget.
  3. Training. It is also important to look into the kind of training chef schools can give to you. What kind of equipment and cooking tools will you be using? Where will you be trained? Where will you have your on the job training etc. All these things need to be accounted for to make sure that you are in the right school and the right location.
  4. Location. Location is also another important thing to consider. If you are coming from a tropical country and you’re looking into a school that is located in a country that has four seasons, it might be difficult for you to adjust to this kind of weather. Other than this, you also have to take into account the location that you can afford. If you will be studying for four years, will you be able to afford it in your choice of location?
  5. Career Opportunities. Last but not the least you also have to have some ideas when it comes to possible career opportunities you can have after graduation. Some schools can give you an assurance for employment as long as you’re qualified and as long as you’re up to par with their standards.

Now that you have more than enough tips that you can use when choosing chef schools abroad, make sure to take note of the importance of each and every one of them. When you do, you will find that they can reward you in more ways than one, particularly in helping you become the best chef that you can be.

5 Best Cake Decorating Books You Will Fall in Love With

December 18th, 2012

Have you ever tried decorating in the past? If not, then you wouldn’t have any idea just how fun it is. In fact, cake decorating can be one of the best and most fulfilling hobbies that you can do on your own or even with your children or friends. If you are interested to try it out and eventually fall in love with it too, then here are of the best cake decorating books you shouldn’t miss.

5 Best Cake Decorating Books

  1. 100 Fondant Models for Cake Decorations. If it is your first time to try cake decorating, then read the 100 Fondant Models for Cake Decorations that you will easily fall in love with. This book is filled with the best photos that will entice you to learn and perfect your craft as well as some valuable tips on how to prepare the nicest and best tasting cakes you can ever create.
  2. 50 Easy Party Cakes. If you find that cake decorating is really something that you can do for a long time, then you might also be encouraged to start your own small business on it. You can get as many tips as possible from the 50 Easy Party Cakes decorating books you will find online. Here you will get truckloads of information on how to create the most unique designs for party cakes.
  3. Cake Decorating Books: Baking with the Cake Boss. Another book you shouldn’t miss and that can easily make you fall in love with cake decorating is the Baking with the Cake Boss book. Although a little pricey, this book can be serve as the only book you will ever need for cake decorating.
  4. Cake & Cookie Pops. Who says that the cakes you will be preparing should always be the traditional ones? This book entitled Cake & Cookie Pops will teach you how to create non-traditional types of cakes like cakes on sticks and candied cakes and many more. Don’t forget to add some unique designs to on your creation to make them more interesting.
  5. Cake Decorating Books: The Art of Cake Decorating. Last but not the least, another book you should get for reference is The Art of Cake Decorating. This book is filled not only with tips, designs and ingredients but even stories on how you can develop a great and one-of-a-kind relationship with the cakes you will be preparing for all types of occasions. Thus, this book is definitely a must have.

Truth is there are still more than hundreds of cake decorating books you can find there. All of these books can be used if you wish to start learning how to decorate cakes or even if you have been doing it for quite some time now. The bottom line is that if you find that this kind of hobby is something you’re actually good at, then hone your skills further and fall in love with it even more through the help of these books.

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What is the Pastry Chef Job Description?

December 13th, 2012

Pastry chefs are almost immediately associated with beautifully crafted desserts and baked goods. They are highly regarded for their creativity and culinary skills. But what do pastry chefs really do? What is the pastry chef job description? Are there essential points that need to be considered if you intend to become a pastry chef?

What Constitutes a Pastry Chef Job Description?

So what do pastry chefs do? What are the things that make pastry chefs different from other chefs? Basically, pastry chefs are involved in the preparation of baked goods, sweets, and desserts. As mentioned earlier, they are associated with sugar sculptures, chocolate fountains, and wedding cakes. In many restaurants, pastry chefs are different from the other chefs. They may even have their own section in the kitchen.

Pastry chefs are primarily focused on the production and presentation of pastries and baked goods. However, they also do other tasks. These other tasks include the overseeing of kitchen staff, the ordering of supplies, and the organization of the kitchen. Pastry chefs do not spend all their time in baking and the visually creative decorating and plating of pastries and desserts. Just like other chefs, they also have their responsibilities in making the kitchen operate smoothly.

Skills Pastry Chefs Should Have

Needless saying, pastry chefs are expected to possess culinary ability and creativity. They have to be able to masterfully bake. They should have expert knowledge of ingredients and baking methods. They can’t just be all about the baking, though. They also need to know how to distinguish ingredients that yield the best flavor. It is also important to have good presentation or aesthetic skills. The taste of the pastries prepared is very important. However, it cannot be complete without proper presentation. That’s why pastry chefs also need to learn how to do attractive plating, the adding of decorations, and the coordination of the overall appearance of the pastries served.

Pastry chefs should give attention to details. Small recipe changes or the substitution of ingredients can lead to significant effects. Pastry chefs need to be mindful of such possibilities. They should be able to notice or keep track of important details while doing their routines.

Pastry chefs need to have a good sense of customer service. There are times when pastry chefs may be called by customers in a restaurant. They need to know how to properly converse or deal with customer complaints. The same goes with pastry chefs who run their own pastry shops. Good customer service is a must. It is imperative never to show any aggression or the tendency to argue with customers. Maintaining customer goodwill has to be a part of a pastry chef job description.

The pastry chef job description may be expanded or reduced depending on the workplace. What remains as a standard is the need to prepare baked goods or pastries and to serve them in an appetizing appearance. It can be said that pastry chefs serve a non-essential role, serving the last course of a meal that may practically be skipped. However, complete dining just does not feel as complete without the pastries, without the creations of pastry chefs.

Pointers in Choosing Baking and Pastry Schools

December 8th, 2012

Baking is one aspect of cooking that is becoming popular. The job of producing pastries is becoming quite attractive. That’s why there are many baking and pastry schools being opened. If you want to enter the world of baking and pastries, you have to learn to make the right choices. You need to understand the different options you will encounter.

Differences between Baking Schools and Pastry Schools

First, it would be good to clarify these terms. What is a baking school? What is a pastry school? Well, baking and pastry schools essentially mean the same thing. In practical use, these two terms can be used interchangeably. Simply put, baking is the process of cooking in dry heat or oven. Pastry, on the other hand, is the result of baking. It should not be difficult making sense of these terms.

Types of Schools and Programs

There are three forms of baking and pastry schools. These are the culinary institutes, community colleges or vocational schools, and college or university. Culinary institutes are academies that provide specific training in the culinary arts, offering short hands-on programs. Community colleges, on the other hand, offer programs that are typically less expensive compared to those offered by culinary institutes. In the case of college or university baking and pastry instruction, a well-rounded liberal arts education is involved. This is more suitable for those who want to start their baking businesses since additional courses like business management are included.

Baking and pastry programs can be offered as certificate, diploma, associate, or bachelor’s degrees. Certificate programs provide basic training and last from six months to a year. These are what culinary institutes and vocational schools offer. Diploma programs are usually intended to prepare students for work in a restaurant or bakery. Associate’s degree programs are typically offered to students who have restaurant management aspirations. On the other hand, bachelor’s degree programs are the ones given by colleges or universities. These programs are centered on culinary techniques, restaurant management, and hospitality training.

Choosing the Best Baking and Pastry Schools

In choosing, it is important to evaluate the following: the type of school, the kind of program offered, flexibility of the program, accreditation, and support after graduation. It is important to know the type of school and program to know if they are suitable to your goal. For instance, if you aim to assume a restaurant management position after graduation, an associate’s degree at a vocational college is enough. Program flexibility also matters especially if you need to work or to attend to other needs. Likewise, accreditation factors in. You have to choose an accredited school or program if you want to be more attractive to prospective employers. Lastly, it is important to choose a school that can help you find work opportunities or establish connections to get customers for your business.

Choosing pastry and baking schools is not as easy as deciding on a dish to cook. There are many factors that need to be considered. You have to be mindful of outcomes. You also need to take costs and program flexibility into account. You have to consider your goals in deciding to enroll in a baking and pastry school. It is important to keep everything in perspective and to carefully assess choices.