Pastry Schools

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

pastry schools in the United States assumed their current form during the second half of the twentieth century as the result of a unique confluence of governmental and cultural factors. Today, bakers and pastry chefs commonly learn their craft through on-the-job training, apprenticeships, and culinary schools. Although certificates and degrees are not required to work in the industry, a formal culinary education has become the preferred method for jump-starting or advancing a culinary career.

Early cooking schools catered primarily to upper-class women who studied for social and domestic prowess, as opposed to job preparation. In England, Edward Kidder operated one of the first cooking schools to include mostly baked goods during the early to mid-1700s. By the late 1700s, Elizabeth Goodfellow in Philadelphia had established a similar program in her city bakeshop for well-heeled ladies. Eliza Leslie, the heralded author of books on cookery and etiquette in the 1800s, was one of Goodfellow’s more accomplished pupils. In the larger American port cities, cooking schools were not uncommon by the nineteenth century. Already in the mid-1800s, French chef Pierre Blot had established the New York Cooking Academy, which offered separate classes for upper-class women, domestic servants, and professional cooks. In London in the late 1800s, Agnes Marshall, the acclaimed nineteenth-century English ice cream maker and culinary writer, frequently lectured on cookery and frozen desserts. See marshall, agnes bertha.