For Americans wanting to study real French pastry, in France, few choices are available unless you actually speak French. Until recently...
L'École Nationale Supérieure de la Pâtisserie is now offering several pastry arts programs taught in English. The school, renowned for 25 years as a program for professionals looking to hone their pastry skills, recently developed an international program geared towards foreign, English speaking students. Located in Yssingeaux, France (about a 2h 30min TGV from Paris, and 30min from Lyon—the home of the Bocuse d'Or), the courses are taught in the newly renovated Château de Montbarnier (pictured).
Four specific programs are now offered in English. Three two-month programs are offered in the summer (July-August) and winter (January-February), and were designed for various levels of experience. The "Initiation Campus" offers beginners and hobbyists an intensive pastry program covering the fundamentals of French pastry. The "Perfecting Campus" is geared toward recent graduates of pastry programs and admission requires prior experience in professional pastry. The "Professional Campus" is also designed for professionals, those with minimum two to three years of experience, and includes added instruction in sugar and chocolate showpieces and ice sculpture.
The fourth program, The French Pastry Arts Program Nicolas Toulliou, is a six month pastry certification program that provides students with the fundamentals of French pastry and baking, upon successful completion of which the student earns their CCA, Certificat de Compétences Académiques.
What makes L'École Nationale Supérieure de la Pâtisserie, and the French Pastry Arts Program Nicolas Toulliou, just about the best choice for people who want to pursue a career in French baking and pastry is the level of instruction—no other pastry arts program has so many instructors and lecturers with the M.O.F. title (Meilleurs Ouvrier de France), the most coveted in the universe of culinary distinctions. The M.O.F. is awarded to only a handful of masters of their craft, even woodworkers, and in pretty much every culinary discipline from Pastry and Chocolate to Bread and Cheese.
The most surprising thing about the French Pastry Arts Program Nicolas Toulliou at L'École Nationale Supérieure de la Pâtisserie is the cost. At 13,000 Euro ($17,500), the pastry program is less expensive than the most prestigious pastry programs offered in America. A few examples are the French Culinary Institute in New York City, where the six month program costs between $37,000-$43,550. The Institute for Culinary Education, also in NYC, costs up to $28,000, and Chicago's French Pastry School will set a student back $21,500. The two-month programs range in price from 5,000 - 5,900 Euro ($6,725 - $7,900).
Considering that housing costs are not included in any pastry program's tuition and fees, a prospective student looking to study in New York City or Chicago will also be faced with high rent on top of high tuition. For housing, L'École Nationale Supérieure de la Pâtisserie has made arrangements for its students. At 390 Euro per month ($525), students can live ten minutes walking distance from the campus. Add to that the fact that breakfast is included in the cost, and lunch can be added at 10 Euro per meal (appetizer, main, and of course dessert), and the French Pastry Arts Program Nicolas Toulliou looks even more affordable by comparison.
What should make this program even more desirable to English speaking pastry students are the 80 hours of French language instruction. Not only will French language skills help future pastry chefs communicate with their French peers, students will need those skills when it comes time to do their one month internship. Another bonus of the program is their placement of students into choice internship positions throughout France.
One thing to understand about the program is that it focuses strictly on classic French Pâtisserie, so if you're interested in doing wedding cakes covered in fondant, or want to follow in the footsteps of Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman, then this isn't the pastry school for you.
The French Pastry Arts Program Nicolas Toulliou is accepting applications for its October 11, 2010 session. For more information, just follow the links...
International Programs Homepage:
Overview of The French Pastry Arts Program Nicolas Toulliou:
Brochure for The French Pastry Arts Program Nicolas Toulliou:
Overview of the Three Two-Month Programs:
Brochure for the Two-Month Programs: