Paris has quite the reputation among foodies.
“It’s the culinary capital of the world,” exclaims pastry chef Jacek Malarski. “I knew I had to study there.”
Jacek had been running a little pastry shop in Poland with his partner, but he wanted to take his baking to the next level.
“I would visit Paris from time to time, and just gaze at the beautiful pastries in the shops, wondering how they did it,” he recalls. “I bought books and tried to replicate it, but it was impossible.”
Bruce Sherman, who graduated from the school over 20 years ago was also drawn to Paris.
“Where I come from in America, food is not so much a part of the culture. In Europe, in France, food is primary, essential, to life,” Bruce tells The Local. “I started to realise I didn’t need to pursue what I was brought up to do, and that I should follow my heart and soul.”
His heart and soul led him to the same place Jacek’s research did: Ferrandi.
Ferrandi Paris is one of France's most prestigious culinary schools, offering professional training not just in the primary culinary arts but also in restaurant management, F&B and hospitality management. This year the legendary school is launching its Bachelor and Master degrees in hospitality management (partially in English, partially in French).
Jacek and Bruce enrolled in two of the school’s famous Intensive Professional Programmes in English: Jacek in French Pastry and Bruce in French Cuisine, which now are both five-month programmes followed by three-month internships.
Ferrandi Paris graduates Bruce Sherman (l) and Jacek Malarski (r). Photos: Ferrandi Paris
"I didn't consider anywhere else," Jacek says. "All my research and all opinions indicated that Ferrandi was the best.”
Jacek started out in Poland as a struggling actor. Bruce, with a degree in economics and business, had a top career in the financial world.
But neither was prepared for the intensity of culinary school.
“The sheer quantity of recipes and learning that occurred in such a short period of time - it was intense!” Jacek exclaims. “It completely changed how I thought about pastry and gastronomy.”
“The course was critical for making me who I am today,” agrees Bruce, now a full-fledged chef who runs a Michelin starred restaurant, North Pond, in Chicago.
But the two chefs learned a lot more than just how to cook at Ferrandi.
“We learned everything - even simple things such as the structure of the restaurant,” Bruce explains. “Being a chef isn’t just the cooking - you start prepping before service, and you finish once you’ve cleaned up and turned the lights off.”
“We were not only taught how to make cakes, but also how to organise, how to think, and how to run companies,” he says. “In fact, after I graduated my professor came to Poland to help me run my company – that shows the dedication on his part!”
Bruce recalls his amazement at the wealth of opportunities available at Ferrandi, and the unparalleled expertise apparent in each department.
“There were entire departments devoted to specialties,” he says. “There was such a diversity. It really allows students to dive deep.”
The sentiments of Ferrandi alumni Bruce and Jacek are echoed by student Emma Le Sellier de Chezelles, currently enrolled in the Hospitality Management programme.
“There’s a great spirit at Ferrandi, because everyone here has the same passion for food, and passion for the French way,” she explains.
As part of all three programmes, students are required to undertake internships. Bruce worked at three different places to gain insight in different areas.
“It was amazing to see a restaurant operate at a nuts and bolts level. I witnessed exceptional creativity but also a typical French dedication - the chefs were breaking their backs in order to make things work,” Bruce recalls.
Emma meanwhile, has landed internships in both Paris and London.
“The school is very well-connected which allows us to be challenged in new ways and experience new things,” she says.
Jacek completed his internship at a well-known patisserie in Paris, specifically recommended by his professor to suit his goals and needs.
“It was superb,” he says. “It made me realise even more that this is my passion.”
Nurturing passion is perhaps what Ferrandi does best. The school allows students to delve deep into what really interests them and turn dreams into reality. Indeed, 90 percent of graduates land jobs within six months after graduation and more and more are launching their own businesses both in France and internationally.
Jacek, who runs one of the best pastry companies in Poland, and Bruce, with his Michelin restaurant, are not exceptions - they're the norm.
"Ferrandi was a thousand times better than I could have imagined," Jacek says. "I came back from my education refreshed and inspired, and three years later, I still feel the same energy."
“I would recommend Ferrandi to everyone – to anyone who is serious about a career in the culinary world,” he continues.
With the development of tourism and the food/restaurant industry worldwide, there has been an exponential growth in job opportunities. And with the new programmes at Ferrandi Paris in the works, there have never been more opportunities for foodies from around the world to achieve their goals.