Opinions on baking schools and classes across the US, oven opinions
Good morning all !
First let me introduce myself. My name is Marcel and I am an avid home baker/chef who is always seeking to further my skills in the kitchen to benefit my families health and well being. I've been a lurker on this site for a while but even after joining up several months back never chimed in as I felt I had nothing to contribute. After losing my account information and having to start anew this morning I still have nothing to contribute but instead hope some of you can offer your advice. All that lurking has paid off because from the information posted to this site I know there are some great bakers/chefs amongst us. So here we go.
First, I would like to hear opinions on baking schools and classes and if there is a school or class in particular that I should be looking into if I am a novice home baker wanting to take it to the next level. While my full time job and location wouldn't allow for a culinary class over several months/years I do have the ability to take off a week at a time to drive or fly to some of the classes offered in several different states. My main interest lies in artisan baking with natural risen breads but I am also interested in taking classes to pursue bread in all aspects. If it's bread I am interested. So far I have been looking at King Arthur Flour, Zingermans, San Francisco Baking Institute, Artisan Bread School, Hains House, Artisan School in San Diego, and some scant lesser known schools found by a simple google search. While some have reviews others do not and I think that's mostly due to the fact the schools are small and graduates either don't leave feedback or just don't think to do it.
All the schools I mentioned above are an option for me but what I am looking for is where my money and time will best be spent. And as far as where I want this to lead I hope to one day open my own small bakery/pastry shop offering both wood fired artisan breads as well as breads cooked in a more conventional matter like a electric or gas oven. Which leads me to my next question.
OVENS. I am wanting 2 types at some point down the road. Wood fired brick, clay,refractory of some type and your more conventional oven with steam /vapor setup. While I have researched both types and realize each oven signifies what path you want to take with your loaves but I would like you guys to weigh in and possibly throw out some names and models of conventionals as well as offer up types of wood fired that you've used or have and what style I should be looking at. On the conventional side I am seeing a lot of used Vulcan double ovens, Hobart deck ovens, and other brands whose name escapes me right now, pop up for 1/2 the price of a new one or less. I am wondering if it would be a wise decision to invest in one of these first or if I need to look at building my own wood fired first.
I can elaborate more on my future endeavors with baking and pastry but wanted to get this ball rolling before work this morning. For now I am off to the real job.
I look forward to your comments and advice and hope this is the start of a long standing relationship with this site.