The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Becoming an artisan

unrisen's picture

Becoming an artisan

I started bread baking about 6 months ago I am 34 and I found my passion at long last and I now want to push myself to be an artisan. I am just after a little advise on which direction would be better, College or Apprentiship? Thanks very much.

Pastry Monkey's picture
Pastry Monkey

Hello Unrisen, I found my bread baking passion at age 30 and started out by apprenticing. I was lucky to find an artisan baker willing to teach someone with no culinary experience. Being in a professional bakery really opened my eyes as it is nothing like home baking. So far so good, though!  I haven't had the opportunity to go to school, but I strongly believe that getting a bread education would give you the foundation on which to build your craft. Good luck!!!!!

proth5's picture

- many years ago - when there were actual artisan guilds - the only answer was "Apprentice."

I have studied with the best teachers I could find and what I have found is that nothing will up your game like working in a bakery (which I have also done).

When you consider the meaning of the word artisan, you might consider that it requires "hand skills."  Nothing will give you those except hours and hours of practice.

You may wish to take short classes (again, with the very best teachers you can find) and then seek an apprenticeship.  Then, if you know this really is your passion (and you love working nights) you may wish to get that culinary degree.

But it is by no means required. 

My opinion - a free opinion, and perhaps worth what you paid for it.  Hope it is food for thought.

arlo's picture

Well, I started baking for a living over three years ago when I was in my younger twenties. During that time I was going to school for my degree in Hospitality Management, and also completing various certificates and even my CPC through the American Culinary Federation.

Both school and apprenticeships have there merits. In my eyes though, the knowledge I have gained about baking from working in a bakery and eventually becoming the head bread baker has done so much more for my skills than my culinary program could have done - in the baking aspect. I feel that way because nothing can compare to that hands-on experience. Plus 40+ hours a week of making bread really gets you into the know-how in my experience. I can not say that is the case for everyone though.

This isn't to say you'll know everything or as do I either from an apprenticeship, in fact I learn that I make mistakes everyday! But being thrown into the actual process and craft is quite an education feat that I feel can not be duplicated in a classroom fully.

If you can find an apprenticeship, go for it. If you can not, head to your local community college or wherever and start taking classes and making connections! Whatever path you choose, it will undoubtedly help you out in the long run.

unrisen's picture

Thanks everyone, a nudge in the right direction. Now to find an apprenticeship.

Yerffej's picture

Whatever direction you take, remember to bake, bake, bake and then bake some more.

There is today, a false thinking trap that a stint in school or at work makes one a master of whatever the craft may be.  In truth, mastering anything takes relentless dedication and practice.  Pair this with a desire for life long learning and you will arrive at your goal.