There are two tests in basic pastry at LCB. The first one, taken after 80% of the classes are done, is a written one.
It asks mainly for some details of recipes (e.g., what is the proportion of chocolate and cream on a ganache or what are the ingredients for pastry cream), some technical vocabulary and some questions about ingredients in general.
I don’t remember the majority of the questions, but it was quite straightforward. Intensive students don’t get discursive questions (i.e., it’s mainly true/false or choose the correct answer) and the questions they ask you are pretty easy. I studied as much as I could fit into the tight schedule and got 85 out of 100 correct. Most people get around 70, 75 (and there are some few who get 90, 95…) percent correct.
But the written test doesn’t fail you. If you miss it, it’s obviously bad since it accounts for 10% of your final grade. But you won’t fail the course. The problem is the practical test.
Once you’re halfway the course, they will give you a list of 10 possible recipes that could make into the final exam. Out of these 10 recipes your class will get 2, and then you will get one or another.
The class before me got Gateau Basque and Eclairs (so unfair! Gateau Basque is so hard and Eclairs are so easy!), my class got the Moka and Dacquoise and the next class got Apple Turnovers/Palmiers and Pithiviers.
I myself got the Moka, which I wanted. I’m not sure it was a good idea, but since I’m good at cakes, there was a chance that if something bad happened I would be able to fix it.
Well… it happened.
I didn’t butter my mould well (how? I still don’t know!) and the cake stuck to it. So my genoise went from perfectly done to have a huge depression in the middle.
I fixed it, of course, and the result was passable (the chef saw my agony and gave me kudos at the end by fixing the mess quite well — that’s real life in the kitchen) but way too far from my standard. I was very upset at the result, but these things can happen. That doesn’t make me a worse or better cook.
I passed with fairly good grades (looking forward to improve them in Intermediate/Superior), but the most important was the whole experience. I was in the middle of changing professions and this course gives you a good flavor of what is like to work on a kitchen — 12 hours standing, carrying heavy packages from here to there, heat and cool at the same time, pressure, sickness… oh, I’ve had it all. And I want more.
Culinary school is not for the faint-hearted. If you cannot stand extremes, a bit of pressure (nothing like Master Chef, though), extenuating schedules and long working hours, you might get a hard time. It is demanding and will take you out of your comfort zone. It is hard work, but it’s the most amazing work I could possibly ask for.
I’m coming back to Paris in about a month from now, and I cannot wait for it. I’ve been practicing almost daily all the recipes and techniques we learned so I won’t be our of shape once I’m back.
Like I said back then, I found my passion and what I want to do for the rest of my life, so I’m looking forward to it, and to do my best
Want to know more? Check what happened on the previous weeks!