Bewildered Father

Forum: Cakes & Cake Decorating

I have an unusual request/topic. My daughter wants to go to school for Pastry Arts. We hope to open a specialty cake business in PA or SC way off in the future. There is a lot I could tell you about future plans but for now we need advice. There are so many school options ranging from community colleges to schools over $40,000 per year. I like the Culinary Institute of America in NY the best so far. Any thoughts you’d be willing to share? Thank you! Jeff Teufel (bewildered father)


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Kara's Couture Cakes ...

Hi! Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park Campus) two time grad here. Baking and Pastry Arts ’10, Bachelors Cafe Management ’12.

I looked into a few different colleges when I decided I wanted to make cakes, amazing cakes, for life. I was 29 when I enrolled at the CIA and made the decision based on the level of education, quality of instruction, international networking opportunities, and the intensity of the program. I entered with two children, a husband, and having to uproot them all and move 400 miles away and give up 60% of our family income. And it was the best choice I have ever made. We sacrificed a lot for me to return to school. But I would do it all over again. Please note we are not people who have money by any means. We both worked blue collar jobs and lived paycheck to paycheck, with no savings. There are an amazing amount of scholarships, grants, and financial aid available through the school if you’re willing to work hard to keep your grades up and apply. I paid for my entire 4 years with scholarships and grants due to academics.

The program is very intense. It’s not easy or for the faint of heart, but that’s how the industry is. It can be cut throat, even in pastry. They have more Certified Master Chefs and Certified Master Bakers on campus than any other culinary college or institute. One of my mentors, and the man most responsible for helping me get my foot in the door in the caking world, is also the man who brought creme brulee to the United States, has been commissioned by the Queen of England, and has been executive pastry chef at some of the worlds best known, prestigious restaurants. The opportunities through the required externship class (midway through the AOS program) offers the abilities to work in amazing places around the globe with the best of the best. I spent 18 weeks with Ron Ben-Israel in NYC learning cakes, and only cakes.

I’m not telling you these things to brag, rather to illustrate the incredible opportunities that exist with having The Culinary Institute of America on your resume and in your repertoire. It is not easy, and I would not recommend only doing the AOS portion of the program. The bachelor’s study is essential to truly becoming a profitable professional, and much quicker, in this industry.

I won’t keep gnawing your virtual ear off, but I would be happy to talk about the amazing things and very difficult things about The CIA anytime you would like. You can email me at

I’m a proud graduate and ambassador of my alma mater.

Jeff ...

Kara: It was very kind of you to respond and the information was very helpful. My wife made the point that the certificates available at the community colleges are just a hair above useless and if my son can survive Army boot-camp and three tours in the middle-east, my daughter will survive CIA.
Sounds like our top option at the moment and I will never forget your kindness in responding!
Jeff Teufel

Kara's Couture Cakes ...

I’m happy to help! A good education can mean everything! And thank you and your family for your sacrifice and allowing us the privilege of your son’s service!