Culinary Sagacity

~Thought for Food~

The Cathayans believed that the soul or mind is located not in the head but in the stomach.

Doubtless this explains why they fret so much about the preparation and serving of food.

It may also explain why their memories are so much better than ours.

Information is stored not in the finite head, but in the expandable stomach.

--Cyrus Spitama in Gore Vidal's Creation

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Esteemed French Pastry Program Offers Courses in English

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:

Accommodation/Meals Information:


  1. 人生的苦惱,不在擁有太少,而在奢望太多。 ....................................................

  2. They should do class in Japanese we love French pastries!

  3. Are those Japanese characters? I can't read Hiragana or Katakana. And what's with the "sexy85?" lol Thanks for the comments in any language!

  4. Hello Regina,
    I am in charge of International development at the ENSP. I just wanted to thank you for writing such an enthusiastic article on your blog. We have been working hard to create affordable French pastry programs with an international twist. The first 12 students who have already signed up for next October's 6 month program come from 10 different countries ! We hope to give them an unforgetable experience (positive, of course)
    Thanks, again,
    Thea Carini

  5. Thanks Thea!

    I've known about your school for a while as some friends did guest instruction there for Pierre Herme years ago. I'm so glad you now offer programs in English. It does look like you worked very hard on the programs! Congratulations!

    -Regina Varolli

  6. Hi Regina,

    I happened to find your post by Googling while I was thinking that I may need to find another professional pastry training in Paris, France. I was so glad to find your comment about ENSP. I knew about its 2 months program in English but didn't know ENSP had started a professional 6 months training for English speakers.

    Actually, I'm on the waiting list for École Ferrandi in Paris for this September 2010 program at this moment. Ferrandi takes 20 students for the professional pastry program each semester in February and September. The school seems to receive tremendous amount of applicants nowadays, as Ferrandi has become one of the best program provided in English for adults, who want to have a serious career change. The school does not states the deadline, yet it recommends to send the application by April for the September program. I sent mine in the middle of March. I was informed this week that I was not accepted due to the huge number of applicants; however Ferrandi would put my name if I wanted. I could differ my application to the next February program in 2011 if there would be no spot available this time. However, I was told that I would have to the selection process again, which means probably I have to wait another 6 months to find out if I can get in.

    I'm over 45 years old and honestly I feel my biological clock is clicking. If I were in my 20's or even 30's, I wouldn't mind waiting for something may happen another year in order to make a big career change in my life.

    Do you know if this ENSP 6 months program has ever had some mature adults students? I've already completed a 3 months French pastry program at École Ritz Escoffier in 2006 and started to work as a French pastry chef. However, Ritz's program was not for someone like me. It was filled with people who wanted to experience the arts of the French pastry while they were on vacation. (The program runs with a different topic every week and can be taken minimum from a week). I have longed for going back to France to take a truly professional French pastry program. This time I really want to make sure about what the school could offer.

  7. Hello Anonymous,
    I am Thea from the above comment. The ENSP's 5month + internship French pastry Arts program is especially designed for career changers. The objective is to make the program short and intense so that you don't waste time. The program that just started last April has students in their mid 20's to 48 years old. We do not look at age as a criterea for acceptance, but personally, I like to have a good mix of ages. The students coming next October are from USA, Canada, Brazil, Chili, Isreal, Turkey, Austria, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, South Africa, Colombia, Iran and Hong Kong. Most are in their mid 20's, but we also have students 35, 38, and 41.

    Good luck with your plans, wherever they may take you ;-)

  8. Hi Thea,

    It sounds like a great program. Thank you so much for your message.

  9. Hi Anonymous-

    I hope you don't let your age (or anything else for that matter) stand in the way of you and your dreams. It is never, ever too late to do what you love in life. Remember, Julia Child didn't even discover she wanted a career in food until her 40s, and she didn't appear on TV until her 50s.

    Good luck!

  10. Does anyone know if the 2 month course would be good for an avid home baker, but not someone with professional experience?

    If not, are there any other programs in France that would be a good fit for that? Thank you!

  11. Hi Anonymous-

    I think if you have the time, the two month program would be an amazing experience, and your friends would love you for it! There are shorter courses offered at the Paris campus of Cordon Bleu, and you can check them out at

    Happy baking!

  12. The program may be in Englsih for ENSP, but they expect you to learn French, with unpromised hours. Just know if you go to school, prepare and learn Frenh before you get here, because they advertised it as an all English program, and when people got here, they didn't know it was OBLIGATED to speak french. Its understandable to learn french while you are in a french speaking country, however, the advertisement mislead many students. If you dont know french enough to communicate in a french kitchen, dont expect ENSP to provide you a good internship by the end of your program

  13. That is right, you should expect to learn French. That is why the school gives you French classes (that many students choose not to attend)and a license to use Rosetta Stone (that many students don't use. But as usual, it is the the students that complain the most that usually make the least effort. In the French pastry arts program, the chefs start off in English and little by little during the 5 month program they speak more and more French to finish only in French. During our last session, the students begged the chefs to speak more French. So, every group is different. But you are right, if you want to do an internship in a French pastry shop, you have to be more or less functional in pastry French. That is where we strive to get you. Even if your French isn't so good, that hasn't prevented us from getting you internships in some pretty prestigeous places !!
    It is easy to leave an annonymous message that trashes the school, but not very mature on your part.

    i wouldnt excpext to learn french in the fpa program neither to get much of quality of teaching,ive just spent my last 6 month and 13000 euros in the fpa program you should know that there is a big difference between the facade pf this program created by theaand what u get at the end(which is chefs who might be good chefs but terrible teachers,who speaks english not worteaching standarts,who fight among among them selves for 6 month,and put you in the midlle of that,thea which after a month from yssingeaux you will not hear a word from her again,no quality control of the course what so ever,a general manger of the school which dont care about anything excepet making more money !im sad that thats how it came out to be.dont let yoursellf be sweettallked by the ensp,its a freat place for professionals but not readdy at all to take international students,maybee in 5 years it will be avery good program now its to early,we are only the 2 course taking place and there is to much dissorganization,ask any fpa student.(u can easly find us on facebook)
    sincerly FPA STUDENT

  15. There is a group on facebook with the name
    FPA - ENSP Yssingeaux pastry patisserie 2011
    The group is closed until now ,but if someone need info. about the FPA , you can send a request and join the group. All the students are there to ask them anything you want about the ENSP end FPA program.

  16. Thea, not very professional on your part my dear.

  17. hy from chef ensp
    the problem we do have at the shchool is we don't have some professional chef like chef sebastien leroy who don't deserve to be there because no experienced at all to be a teacher english speaking no good at all student are complaint all the the time here but the fact sebastien as a affair with thea carini everything he got everything he want from the director this men need to be out of the shchool i driving to see mr thuries myself i do have a apointment to meet in personn to talk about that and explain him to be remove as soon is possible

  18. hy all the students from the last program
    i do have good news i went to see mr thuries i did have a great meeting with him he told me then sebastien leroy would out of the shchool soon then you can imagine he will be fire soon verry soon

  19. Hello I have begin my stage in paris has bets and I can say that I am completely satisfied by that this I am very happy to see the quality of the work here made by the leader when I compare what I did has the school it is completely dispute leader Sébastien leroy is far from being able to make all this I wonder how somebody with step of experiment was able to return has the school he should be dismiss of the school he do not possess experiment to be formative has esnp

  20. this scares me. I am going for the october 2011 prgoram and not sure whether i am making the right choice. thea is sebastian still there? have things improved?

  21. learn French in Lyon- If you love traveling and appreciate nature then you should learn French in Lyon because the school is positioned in between two rivers.