My pastry internship at Le Meurice in Paris | Le Bon Garçon
 

 By Justin Chao

I learned a lot in culinary school in Paris, but the bulk of my culinary training began when I left the safety of Bellouet Conseil (my culinary school) and started working at Le Meurice. I won’t lie: working in a French kitchen was difficult.  The first day I walked in to the kitchen, I was absolutely clueless.    I made all the rookie mistakes like using my apron as a napkin.  I even spilled a whole pail of pastry glaze on the floor.  I’m pretty sure I looked like a fool, mostly because my co-workers didn’t hesitate to let me know.  While my French was good enough to get around Paris, it wasn’t good enough to communicate in a fast-paced environment.  I remember being really stressed out and that people were yelling at me.  One guy even slammed a knife down on the counter right by my head. Even though it was really long hours and physically intense, I kept going back because I was learning skills that I could not learn anywhere else. From the first day, I was making desserts that were going out to customers who were expecting the world-class quality.  The level of care and skill that went into each dessert was mind-blowing, and I have not seen that level of craftsmanship since I’ve left Paris.  I decided to stick with it and work really hard.  If there was a skill that I could not master at work, I would go home and practice. 

 By the end of my internship, I was just as fast as my co-workers.  More importantly, I had gained their respect and friendship.  Having worked at such a highly regarded kitchen, I feel like I can work anywhere and thrive. Taking the first step to work in a kitchen is hard.  Luckily for me, it worked out and I continued to have a career in the field.  Looking back, I should have tried working in a kitchen before I moved to Paris and invested a lot of money and time in culinary school.  I guess I was lucky that it worked out. For anyone who is interested in going to Paris to learn about pastry, I highly recommend Bellouet Conseil.  One of the best parts of going to Bellouet Conseil is that you have a choice of where you would like to work in Paris.  I would also recommend taking advantage of any internship program that your culinary school offers.  Staging (interning) is an intense experience, but the confidence I gained by working in a high-intensity environment is invaluable.

 

 

 

 

Comments

Le Bon Garcon
Le Bon Garcon 15 Aug 16:34

Hi Gaby,

Thanks for your comment. I don’t know if you would be willing to do a short course at Bellouet Conseil, but I know that they are very well connected. Unfortunately, I think that most people that I know have moved outside of Paris. Best of luck to you in your job search.

Thanks,
Justin

Bonjour,

Your teacher at Bellouet was Australian? I am Australian, would love to know who that is. I just finished Ferrandi in 2013, looking for work in a Paris (I’m an EU citizen). It’s tough, no luck so far. I’m trying to find a window that’s open because so far the door is closed on me. Would love a connection. Love the name by the way, Le Bon Garçon, clever.

Thanx in advance if you can help.

Le Bon Garcon
Le Bon Garcon 14 Nov 16:50

Speaking French definitely helps. I took the course over two sessions. The first session was conducted in English and the second was conducted in French. One of my classmates spoke only a little bit of French and she was able to learn what she needed. The teacher was Australian so when my classmate got confused, she was able to ask her question in English. However, French does come in handy during your internship if you choose to do one. And I imagine that my classmate must have missed a couple of small details while the teacher was speaking French.

I hope this helps!

Hi, I’m interested to take up a course but I didn’t know where to start. Would it be difficult for me if I couldn’t speak french?

Le Bon Garcon
Le Bon Garcon 20 Oct 18:58

Hello Laila,

I ended up paying from my savings. I did not get financial aid.

Thanks,
Justin

Hi,

I was wondering if you had financial aid or you paid out of pocket for the pastry program at Bellouet?

Le Bon Garcon
Le Bon Garcon 14 Oct 15:22

Hello Venkusa,

I’m not sure if I can answer your question, since I don’t know much about qualifying to be a hospitality graduate. Unfortunately, I found Bellouet Conseil to be one of the least expensive options around. Other options include getting training at a local community college or at a local culinary school. Are you located in the US?

Bellouet Conseil also offers short courses that are less expensive. I’m not sure if you would need to take a long course like the one I took.

Sorry I can’t be more help.

Thanks,
Justin

Hi, I am a Highly aspiring Hospitality graduate looking for an internship cum professional development programme in Pastries and Confectionary. As I see, the course fees of 11000 Euros is too much for me to bear. Is there any course that offers scholarships and let me qualify yet?Please let me know if any.Thanks

Justin Chao
Justin Chao 13 Sep 08:36

Hello Orlando,

Thanks for your comment! I did not work in a restaurant in France after my internship. I knew a Canadian who was able to get a work visa there. I’m not sure if France’s visa policy is different for Canadians as opposed to Americans. If you would like to work in France afterward, I would definitely speak to Bellouet Conseil now about getting a carte de sejour. Some of my French co-workers when I was at Le Meurice were enrolled in apprenticeship programs where they would work for three weeks and then attend culinary school for three weeks. They were paid for their apprenticeship. Look into Le Ferrandi if this is something that may interest you.

I don’t know a lot about French visas and work policy since the law has changed since I left France, but I hope that this helps you.

Thanks,
Justin

I’m so glad and grateful for your work on this site. Please keep it up! That said, I was wondering if you continued working at a restaurant after your internship experience. Was it in France, as well? How about the US? Perhaps you’ve written this in another entry – I’ll double check, but my question arises from the hopes of enrolling at Bellouet Conseil and continue to work at a French rest. after the internship.

Again, thank you so much for this. All of it! Hope business is up and growing!

Maybe Malaysia Academy of Pastry Art then.
OR Vancouver, depending where you are located.

Le Bon Garcon
Le Bon Garcon 23 Aug 13:33

Hi Lila,

Before I started my course at Bellouet Conseil, I took a couple of pastry and cooking classes that lasted 12 weeks. The first 12-week course I took was a culinary class. The teacher had connections within the industry and could have gotten me an internship in a highly regarded restaurant in Los Angeles. I declined her offer to help me find an internship because I was just starting graduate school. However, if I had it to do over again, I would have taken the internship and started my career in the culinary arts.

Taking a pastry course at a local school can help you break into the industry. Just make sure to ask if they can help you get an internship at a local restaurant.

People break into the industry in a variety of ways and culinary school is not a necessity. In fact, I would suggest that you try working in a kitchen before you start culinary school. I think you will get more out of your investment because you will already have the basics and you can concentrate on your technique. Another option is to figure out what you would like to specialize in and take short courses. Short courses are considerably less expensive.

I hope this helps. Unfortunately, I don’t have any specific names of schools that I can give you. When I was looking, Bellouet Conseil seemed to be the most economic option for me.

-Justin

Hi there,

I enjoyed reading your blog very much and I admire your courage to follow your dream and passion. I want to be just like you, have a career in the pasty industry, but I am a total amateur and I do not know where to start. I want to take pastry classes but I do not have the financial resources that most pastry schools require. For instance, the course at Bellouet Conseil is over 11000 euros and the housing is not even included. I do not have this kind of money. Can you recommend me some schools that are relatively a bit on the cheaper side? I was thinking maybe around 5000 euros per course. Thank you so much.

Lila

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