The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A question no doubt asked a thousand times before...

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Baker Bevis's picture
Baker Bevis

A question no doubt asked a thousand times before...

 So then, it's the usual story I guess, experienced by millions of other bakers no doubt ... I've been baking bread at home for the past year or so, cannot tell you how much I love it and how happy it makes me. I've realised that making bread is something I want to do, not just dabble in, something I want to make a career out of. I've been on a few bread making courses, loved every second on them and have read everything I can about companies such as Loaf Social Enterprise in Birmingham, and the Handmade Bakery in Slaithwaite, who are an absolute inspiration.


A few months I started up my own (very small-scale) community assisted bakery type scheme, I'm sure you know the score. a handful of friends and family pay a small subscription and get a loaf of bread a week. I am loving it, the getting up at daft o'clock in the morning to ensure the bread is made as fresh as possible, having the chance to practice my craft and getting some money for it, getting lovely, lovely feedback from my 'customers' and the people they feed their bread to.


I live in Warwickshire in the UK and have scoured the local towns for a bakery that I could pester to let me volunteer but to no avail.  I have looked into the possibility of studying for a qualification too, but wonder whether actual experience workign in a bakery would be more helpful in the long run. But when there are no bakeries about... I also work a 9 -5 job at the moment, but really am just looking for the right opportunity before I march in there and hand in my notice :D


I'm hoping that passion for bread-making and genuine enthusiasm can make up for lack of actual experience, although from the look of job adverts around the country most employers are looking for a minimum of two years?!


Joking aside, I know I'm just going to have to go out and make things happen, rather than waiting for someone to point their magic wand and go 'POW! Here's your dream job / own bakery / fame and fortune!' I'm not looking to make millions, I just want to find a way of doing for a living what I absolutely love to do, that is, making bread :)


My question is this: Where on earth would you suggest I start?! I'd love to hear about other people's experiences of becoming professional bakers and any tips, guidance, contacts, ANYTHING, would be very, very gratefully received. Better yet, give me a job! :D


Looking forward to hearing from you all!


Chris

Chausiubao's picture
Chausiubao

Not knowing your the details of your unique situation no one can really give you advice on where to start, but what I can do is give you my own experience.


When I turned 22 I was a senior in a university earning a degree in science, I had 6 months to graduate and decided that the life for me was in the food service industry and not in academia. If one were to backtrack you would see that I had begun baking 10 years back, and bread baking seriously, perhaps, 4 years back (from that point in time of course).


At any rate, like you I was unable to find a position in a bakery or a restaurant for that matter that would invest in me, so, after months of unsuccessful job searching I decided to invest in myself and enrolled in a baking and pastry program at a culinary school.


Over the course of the program I developed a resume tailored to that industry and within a month of graduation (which ran for a total of 6 months) I found a bakery that was willing to give me a chance.


They took me on as an apprentice baker, the training period of which lasted about 6 months, and the rest is history.


In all reality baking is about heavy lifting and time/project management. If you are unprepared for a vocation where you are on your feet, always moving, repetitive action, and heavy lifting, well that's what professional baking is like.


Perhaps there are more of us on these forums that will share their stories with you and you can decide what your next move will be!


--Chausiubao

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Bevis, if you use the search function and put in "hobby to business" you'll find several threads discussing this subject.


I'm baking European breads for a local store and a few private customers, but this is my hobby and I'm retired, so I don't need to finance myself with it - and don't have to do assembly line work, either.


Karin

arlo's picture
arlo

I myself am in a local culinary program at my nearest college, I also have been working in a professional bakery for over a year now. Both I find are quite different from each other due to scale, though they share similarities and I gain education in my desired field regardless of operating size.


I never could have been trained at school though for the extremely large holiday rushes I see (such as Thanksgiving) while at work. Things like being at work at 2 am sharp and staying until 2 in the afternoon because there is that much bread and, as someone stated heavy lifting to do. Shifts like that are an experience I couldn't have received in my culinary program.


Though in my culinary program I have had the chance to work on single projects and really take time to at least try to perfect my craft. Making sure my soup/bread/pie/whatever comes out wonderfully, hopefully the whole time understanding each step so it becomes a second nature. I am given 8 hours or so each class for one assignment, I also get to see others at work which sparks creativity. At work, I have 8+ hours to do too many assignments at a time.


My final thoughts are real life experience, getting hands on, and walking the walk are very important for baking. It can really put into perspective what you will be facing and the business side of baking. Because yes, food cost and labor, purchasing and such are there, and making loaves and muffins isn't the only thing sadly. I recommend going to school, and then meeting with professors who have connections to help you find an internship, where most likely you will work so much harder than you have been in class!