Students in the Evening Pastry Arts Program reflect on how far they’ve come in 9 months.
Below are excerpts from LAC’s interviews with students Diane, Meghan, Rocio and Ally.
1. Why choose LAC’s evening Pastry Arts Program.
Diane: I currently have a full-time job in the federal government. I needed to keep my job while I was pursuing my education in the Pastry Arts, until I was ready to fully transition to a new career 9 months after starting. I also really enjoy the small class sizes and the high quality ingredients used every day which really makes a difference in the final products.
Meghan: LAC is close to where I live and I really liked the night class option because I work during the day. Also, when I visited LAC the staff really welcomed me with open arms. I didn’t feel like a prospective student at all.
Rocio: I looked at other pastry schools in the area, but felt that the small class sizes and classic curriculum at LAC were the right fit for me.
2. How have you balanced work and school?
Diane: Balancing full-time work in the federal government with my commitment to pastry school, has forced me to organize myself better and manage my time more efficiently on a daily basis. You just need to be focused on what you want, what you need to accomplish, and get to it. You will then look back and be amazed at how much you can balance! There are days when I am really tired after a full day of work, but my excitement and passion for baking and pastry keeps me going!
Meghan: Currently I have a full-time job as a server during the day and have also started my externship a little early at Praline Bakery & Restaurant in Bethesda, MD. Balancing work and school has been a challenge at times, however, I have a set schedule at my day job and have worked out with my boss that I have two days off during the week, and a few hours between getting off my shift and getting to school. Life is a little hectic, but I’m doing what I love and enjoying every minute of it!
Rocio: I am currently a middle school teacher and have to admit that balancing work and pastry school has been more challenging than I imagined. Before beginning the program I thought 20 hours a week of school was not much [but it’s incredible how much gets packed in!] Also I commute from Northern Virginia which takes an extra hour out of my day. I’ve done my best to stay organized and the thing that has really gotten me through this is my excitement and passion for pastry and baking!!
3. How have your pastry skills/knowledge expanded since attending LAC’s Pastry Arts Program?
Diane: Oh my goodness, where to begin. I came into the first day of class with a basic knowledge of pastry that I had gained through watching and helping my grandmother and mother while growing up. I was not extremely skilled in anything in particular. However, I felt like I knew a bit. When we went over the syllabus on day one of class, I realized how I didn’t even recognize many of the names of items and concepts we would be covering. I had no idea with Pastillage and Brisee were, let alone how to properly roll dough for Croissants and other delicious pastries! I thought to myself, will I be able to do this? The answer to that question is simple, Absolutely!! Now that I look back on the last 9 months I am absolutely amazed at how far I have come and how the skills and knowledge I have now will last a lifetime!
Meghan: Coming into the program, I had dabbled in making a few cakes here and there, using fondant a little, but other than that, I was pretty much in the dark. The fundamental skills I’ve learned in school have become part of my everyday life now. I have a strong foundation with which I can understand why a recipe doesn’t turn out right, or how I can fix something when it goes wrong. With the strong skill set I have now, I can also begin building my own recipes.
Rocio: I’ve learned correctly how to do things I never realized I didn’t know… How to make a meringue properly, how to build a celebration cake properly and all about croissants and laminated doughs! Even in these last few week of school I’m still learning how to be better every day.
4. Now that you’re headed out to your externship, how do you feel about transitioning to a new career?
Diane: I am also very excited about my upcoming externship. I’ll be at Sweet Hearts Patisserie in Annapolis. Sweet Hearts is a beautiful patisserie that offers a wide variety of delicious treats. I am looking forward to learning directly from the owner, Chef Kristen and her skilled staff.
Meghan: Putting all my new skills to the test and taking pride in all I’ve accomplished is an incredible feeling! I’m a little sad about leaving the school and moving on to my externship, mainly because school has become a second home over the past nine months. I am very excited about my externship though. Going out into the world and putting all my skills to the test as well as expanding on them and learning new things every day is really exciting!
Ally: I’m getting ready to move outside the area up to Buffalo, NY. I’m looking forward to beginning my externship in DessertDeli, where I can put my skills to the test in a real-world environment.
5. What advice do you have for someone considering attending the LAC Pastry Arts Program?
Meghan: Work hard, be patient with yourself as you are learning, and keep yourself organized!! Have pride in all that you do, and make Chef Claude proud! But most of all, ENJOY it and HAVE FUN! I enjoy a challenge and this program is enough of a challenge to keep me on my toes, as well as make it enjoyable along the way!
Rocio: I recommend prospective students come visit the school during a special event or to observe a class. This way they can really see the pastry students in action and get an honest look at the program.
Diane: Don’t hold back on your passion! I would also advise prospective students to visit the school. Don’t be intimidated or overwhelmed by the depth of skills that are represented when you visit. On Day One of class, I didn’t know how to do 90% of what I can now do. But you really will learn it, understand it, and feel so proud of all that you accomplished by the end of the program.