I chose to follow my passion and threw myself into French pastry. Even though it was not a given considering that I’m almost 40. You would usually start with 15 or so as an apprentice while going to school, then take the CAP exam, which is the basic exam you need in order to carry on.
There are not many schools in France which offer trainings for people who want to change career. Only two were on my list: Ferrandi in Paris and the ENSP in Yssingeaux. Both providing a more or less 6 months pastry training.
The interviews were completely different, where in Paris you get the attitude that goes together with the capital, the provincial friendliness and availability of the staff convinced me. There also were 100 more hours of teaching at the ENSP and the financial issues raised by living in Paris was not an option for me!
I have been very lucky to be accepted at the ENSP. Although I first thought: “Oh my god, how am I going to survive in the middle of the Auvergne, deep in the country side, on my own”. Well actually I had a wonderful time. The inhabitants of the beautiful Auvergne are extremely nice, helpful and welcoming.
Regarding the school, well, as always some things could get better, but as a whole I’m glad I studied there.
You have probably all been in a situation in which you speculate on things, how the people are gonna be like, how your life there is going to be like…..the good thing about it is when it turns out completely different and to the best.
I met great people, our group at school was “top”.
Our teacher was Xavier Brun. Xavier (when he was there!) was available when you needed him, patient, fun to work with and he knows his craft; there were times when other personalities of the school would come and pay us a visit like “Manu”, who checked out or work, showed us his techniques and simply enjoyed our company; Damien gave us tips on viennoiseries, accepted my friend Marion and me in his class for a day and showed us how to make perfect brioches. It helped me make the best brioches I had ever made for the exam; the assistants, who came to give us more tips, also regarding the job search. In a word there was a wonderful team and they made it even easier to get up in the early morning with -18°c.
I did my internship at Bruno Montcoudiol‘s in Monistrol, who is MOF and World Champion of Pastry. Even though it only lasted a month, I had a good introduction to how a professional works. He is a great teacher and always there if you need help. His team is small, which was good for me, helpful, patient and fun to work with.
Then came the serious time to prepare for the exam including 7 hours of practice and 3 hours of theory. It’s done and I am proud to say that I passed with a very good mark!
After the Exams were over, I had the chance to take part in the recruitment day for the Four Seasons Hotels. They came to the school to introduce a management program and were looking for candidates. We were 11 selected by the school. The day was organised with 2 interviews: one with the Human Resources and the second with a Pastry Chef (here Chef Pannier from the Hampshire Hotel). Then we made a dessert and presented it under the supervision of Chef Lucien Gautier from the George V in Paris.
This was a very good opportunity to see how a recruitment process works in the Luxury Hotel business, to deal with the stress of showing what you can do within a short time, but most importantly, it showed me just how much I want to work in this field.
I worked in the restaurant business for a long time. But you should decide what you’d rather work as: a Pastry Chef or one day own your boutique.
I didn’t plan on coming back to Berlin, I thought I would stay in France and carry on learning from French Chefs in a boutique or travel abroad with a new job.
But there it is, it’s funny how life goes. I’m going to work in a Luxury Hotel here in Berlin with a French Pastry Chef.
My first job as a pastry commis! I couldn’t be happier and am very much looking forward to it.
But for now, I’m baking cakes to help out my friend Joey who works at Mogg&Melzer, a great place in Mitte.
So there you go, for the ones who are wondering about changing careers but do not dare for whatever reasons to take the step, I can only say, I’m happy I took this decision.