French Pastry? There's A School For That?

Croissants, baguettes, macarons, madeleines, financiers... Oh, the list goes on and on of our favorite French pastries and desserts. It was with sheer delight that we recently toured the French Pastry School in Chicago.  What we discovered was the school, co-founded by Chefs Jacquy Pfeiffer and S├ębastien Canonne when they realized that Chicago had a lack of professionally trained pastry chefs. The subject of the thrilling documentary "Kings of Pastry" by film pioneer D.A. Pennebaker, these award-winning pastry chefs instill their passion for excellence in everyone who passes through the school's doors.

Whether you want to become a professional pastry chef, pick up some new cooking skills and techniques or just experience French pastry classics prepared by world-class professional, there's a class or event at the French Pastry School that's right for you.

French Pastry School Croissants
Our French Pastry School experience starts with a freshly baked flaky croissant.

Upon entering the facilities, you immediately note the delightful the aroma of butter. That delicious scent sets the mood for the delectable experience to come. The staff warmly greet you and introduce themselves, making you feel right at home. On our tour we saw the state-of-the-art equipment and were told that most graduates do not often have the luxury of this type of equipment in working restaurant settings.

French Pastry School Classroom 
The latest kitchen equipment in small intimate classes.

The French Pastry School offers highly personal instruction in small classes taught by world-class professional pastry instructors. They offer three main programs: L'Art de la Patisserie, a 24-week full-time pastry and bakery certificate program, L'Art du Gateau, a full-time 16- week certificate program in Professional Cake Baking and Decorating Program, and the L'Art de la Boulangerie an 8-week Artisanal Bread Baking Course.   

French Pastry School
Learning the intricacies of cake decorating is just one facet of the comprehensive training.

They also offer Continuing Education courses, which are 3-5 day classes for professionals and food enthusiasts. Other offerings include the French Pastry Experience and the Tasting Series, which include demonstrations, recipes, sampling and even treats to take home.

Chef Joel Reno
Chef Joel Reno demonstrates several French pastry specialties and techniques.

We attended the French Pastry Experience taught by Chef Joel Reno, fresh off his wonderful demonstrations at the Chicago Fine Chocolate and Dessert Show. He thoughtfully walked us through an assortment of French sweets and desserts, including molded coffee ganache bonbons, honey and lemon Madeleines, passion fruit marshmallows and the luscious pear financier served with hazelnut praline ice cream. We sampled everything that he prepared and enjoyed every bite. Chef Joel has said that "Pastry is a beautiful craft and I love getting people excited about it." He certainly got us excited about it and graciously answered questions from the enthusiastic attendees, keeping us quite entertained with his stories and examples. The Experience includes a tour of the French Pastry School if you arrive 30 minutes before the class, and we highly recommend that you do! Be sure to get a glimpse of the chocolate refrigerator. It's filled with delicious chocolate preparations and beautiful showpieces.  

French Pastry School Madeleines
Honey and Lemon Madeleines hot out of the oven.

A friend to Chicagoland the French Pastry School is the sponsor of Pastry Chicago, which provides fun educational events to involve the community. They hold contests, events and fundraisers helping promote all forms of pastry. From cupcakes to brownies to gingerbread and more, the competitions give pastry artisans a chance to strut their stuff.  They also sponsor the annual For the Love of Chocolate Gala, which helps fund scholarships for worthy individuals to advance their knowledge and education in the pastry arts. 

French Pastry School Cake Decorating 
Pear Financier with hazelnut ice cream.

If you love French pastries and would enjoy learning more about how they are made, check out the many events and courses available at The French Pastry School. You can learn more about all they have to offer on their website