The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Art of International Bread Baking @ The French Culinary Institute

donnas4girls's picture

The Art of International Bread Baking @ The French Culinary Institute

If any one has an opinion on this course please let me know.I am thinking of attending in the fall of 2007.My main interest and passion is Artisan Breads and I am debating which program would suit me better.

The other option is a Pastry and Baking Program which would be more general but I am more interested in the baking , bread aspect and working in a bakery or bread shop rather than preparing desserts for a restaurant.Do you feel I would have job prospects after graduating from FCI's bread program?

I would appreciate any feedback.Thanks for your help.

Breadwhiner's picture

It's not cheap, and it's on the other side of the country, but the San Fransisco Baking Institute (SFBI) is the top place in the US to learn breadmaking.  They have a 13-week program that involves breadmaking as well as pastry.  Some of the top bakeries in the country were launched by SFBI alumni (ACME, LaBrea).  I am very confident that you would find a job after graduating from the program.   Many bakeries come to SFBI for consultation as well as instruction-- those same bakeries recruit SFBI graduates.  SFBI also sells equipment for artisan breadmaking. 

It's a great school and my sense is that the curriculum is cutting edge.  I took a one-week course there in early December.  I learned a lot.  If you are interested in the program see  If you are still interested, I can send contacts  for some people you can talk to about the program.  Just post your reply on this forum.

One word of caution-- at the commercial scale, breadmaking is very physically challenging and the potential profits are modest.  Just as an example, the production of a single baguette takes careful folding and shaping.  To produce hundreds of these per day requires careful attention to physical motion and timing.  One bad move and you will fall behind or end up with an overfermented batch.  Once you have mastered the production of bread, another challenge is the marketing.  Very specific demographic groups appreciate artisan bread. As a funny aside, I spoke to a baker from Utah who told me that some of their customers have complained that the artisan french bread was a rip-off because it has air holes in it.

 Before taking any advanced bread course, I would recommend mastering the baguette forumla presented in the book called Artisan Breads Across America. 

 As far as pastry goes, I would strongly recommend learning pastry as well as breadmaking.  Bakeries often have to switch or adjust their product line, so knowing the full range will be valuable.  Furthermore, some bread products use a blend of pastry and bread principles such as croissants.

 Hope this helps and good luck.  If I were 20 years younger, I would consider doing what you are contemplating.


lisadolan's picture

Hello donnas4girls! There is an awesome baking/pastry arts program that you dont have to travel to the other side of the country to attend . Its in NYC -uptown from FCI  at 50 W 23rd street and the tuition is less (I know that is a concern) The school is formerly known as the Peter Kumps Cooking school which was the first cooking school in Manhattan 30+ years ago. It is a liscensed and accredited institution !

There are flexible hours .You can attend :day afternoon , eve or weekend schedules. There is a six week externship at the end of the training program where you are actually working "on site" either at a Bread Bakery, a pattisserie , restauarant etc. You have help from a career service advisor who helps arrange this and in addition to  an excellent education, as an alumni you have professional developement classes and access to a network of industry professional here in NYC(as well as throughout the US) .

Some well known Pastry alumni include: Claudia Fleming:(Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Cafe,Pret A Manger) Tim Healea:(Pearl Bakery-specailizing in artisan breads and patries, 2002, Bread bakers Guild Team USA, Second Place in the World Cup of Baking -Paris!) Wendy Kromer-Schell: Martha Stewart Omnimedia, Elisa Strass: (Confetti Cakes)

 For more info go to

To a Sweet LIfe!  


EEJ's picture

The Art of International Bread Baking at The FCI is a great program if you passion is baking! I don’t think it is necessary to take the pastry course if you are solely interested in breads. The bread career program will provide you with a thorough understanding of the science and art that is the foundation of artisanal bread making. The course is short (just 8 weeks) but upon completion you will be ready to enter an occupation in baking.


Career services and placementbr> assistance are offered to graduates from the professional bread program.  Recent graduates typically accept entry level jobs in many of the top NYC bakeries, as well as bakeries across the country.  And, since you will be an alum of The FCI, career placement assistance is ongoing throughout your entire career.


If you haven’t been to the school already, I would definitely stop by and check it out. They have had a huge expansion this past year and talking to the faculty first hand will probably help you the most on making your decision. Good luck!

tbwestcott's picture

I'm starting @ the program next week. Will let you know how it turns out. Should you choose to attend, be aware that FCI places a lower priority on housing students enrolled in the shorter, 8-week bread program, than those in the longer culinary/pastry programs. Don't be surprised if there is no housing available at the locations in Brooklyn or Roosevelt island. They will assist you, however, in finding something but it usually is MUCH more expensive than the regular student housing.  Good lucK!

donnas4girls's picture

That would be great! I appreciate it.

Luckily I do not need housing I live about 1 and 1/2 hours away and would be taking the train. This is one of my concerns with the program as it is full time and attending 5 days per week with the commute is going to be tough not to mention I would not be able to work during the program.I am also deciding as to which would be better the day or evening program.

What are your plans after finishing?

Good Luck!

tbwestcott's picture

After finishing school...well, I've been accumualting bakery equipment for a couple of years now (proofers, mixers, racks etc) and have a brick oven in my back yard so I'm hoping to do some smaller-scale baking and see if I can't start out doing the farmer's market thing in spring, summer and fall. Eventually, I'm hoping to be able to move back to New England and open a small bakery.


Would like to take the pastry class as well but for now, it's just to much $$$

sewwhatsports's picture

For those interested, take a look at the classes that are offered through the Baking Education Center at King Arthur Flour.  Jeffery Hamelmann offers classes on Artisan baking and also classes on setting up your own bakery.  I hve taken one class from him on sourdough and will be going back in February.  I am just a home baker with no plans to go beyond that level but his class took my baking up a notch or 3. 

Rena in Delaware

patricia hains's picture
patricia hains

Looks like a lot of these posts are older.  I can reccommend a short five day course taught by a European master baker who will be featuring breads and pastry, both for the beginner and the more accomplished baker.  Coming soon in for details.