Consecutive Bread, Viennoiserie and Pastry Professional Series
Name: Warren J. Burton
Year graduated: Graduated the SFBI Consecutive Bread, Viennoiserie, and Pastry Professional Series in December 2013
Where are you from, and what is your background before coming to SFBI?I am originally from New Zealand. However I permanently moved to the USA in 2001, became a US citizen in the Spring of 2008, and currently reside in Healdsburg, California with my family.
Just prior to attending SFBI, I left a career in the Wine Industry where i spent 20+ years as a Viticulturist. However, being a baker, and opening a NZ style bakery in California has been a long time dream of mine. I spent 3 years running a bakery in NZ with my wife and hoped that we would one day be able to bring NZ pastries to California. We are currently in the start up phase of opening BurtoNZ bakery, LLC in Windsor, California.
Why did you choose SFBI? I first looked to SFBI in part on the recommendation of a dear friend, Dennis Larson (an SFBI Graduate who owns and operates Applegate Valley Artisan Breads- Williams, Oregon) and having a desire to make and master artisan breads, I looked further into SFBI. Upon learning about the SFBI Consecutive Bread, Viennoiserie, and Pastry Professional Series, I saw the potential for me to learn much more in a very hands on, intensive environment. This was a huge draw for me having been used to the 40-60 hour work week, I did not like the idea of studying less than full time.
Why would you recommend SFBI? I would recommend SFBI because it provides THE BEST Artisan Bread and pastry education, hands down. I found the fact that the instructors are actually real world Bakers and Pastry Chefs and that they did not just teach from a book, extremely comforting as it provided me the confidence in knowing that their tips and tricks of the trade are real. SFBI instructors are extremely talented, knowledgeable, patient individuals who are passionate about their profession, and equally passionate about seeing their students succeed.I found the SFBI staff to be professional, friendly and always willing to help out or point you in the right direction when needed.
Michel Suas, is simply amazing. He is a wonderful Teacher, who is always present and willing to help in a manner that lets you discover your own talents while maintaining the integrity of the baking profession. He has been and continues to be a great Mentor as I embark on starting my own Bakery business. I will forever be proud to refer to Michel as my Colleague and my friend.
-What is your current job, and what positions did you have after graduating from SFBI, if any?I am currently finalizing lease documents and preparing to open BurtoNZ bakery, LLC in Windsor, California in the next few months, where I will be the Owner/Baker.
-Comments to people who are considering applying for the program: Just DO it! You will not be disappointed. Do not be discouraged by the bottom line, it is worth EVERY penny and then some.
Name: Katrina VandenBerg
Year Graduated: December 2012
Where are you from, and what is your background before coming to SFBI: I am from Ontario, Canada. I was working in a bakery -- Earth to Table: Bread Bar -- for two years before coming to SFBI.
Why Did You Choose SFBI: The chef that I worked for at the time told me that if I was interested in bread, I needed to go out to San Francisco for a while to learn how. I got in contact with a couple of bread bakers in the Bay area, who recommended that I attend SFBI.
Why would you recommend SFBI: Gosh, so many reasons. But the main reason, is that it created a standard of excellence for my career. I was told by one of my mentors, that as a baker -- what you make is the outcome of what you expose yourself to. During my time at SFBI, I was around teachers would made excellent products with quality ingredients and methods. And everyday, I was able to taste and see beautiful baked goods. This is something you cannot forget.
What is your current job, and what positions did you have after graduation from SFBI? After graduating from SFBI, stayed on for six more months as an intern for Thorough Bread and Pastry. I then went on to work for a company out in Ottawa Ontario, Canada -- Bridgehead -- as their Bread Manager. I developed and put into place their current bread line. This summer, I will be working for a place in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia -- Joy Road Catering.
Comments to people who are considering applying for the program: What was holding me back from attending SFBI, was whether or not I should spend the time and money to travel and stage in different restaurants and learn that way instead of taking classes.
I do not regret my decision -- what I learnt in 6 months at SFBI, would have taken me years and years to learn staging.
What you get in the environment of SFBI, you will not be able to get in a kitchen that is focused on producing. It is a safe place to make mistakes, and also you are around people who a truly invested in teaching you and wanting to see you succeed. You are also given the time and resources to practice what you are learning, and to experiment with it.
Name: Fergus Jackson
Year graduated: Professional Program, September 2011
Where are you from, and what is your background before coming to SFBI?From London, England. Before coming to the SFBI I was a Creative Director in Advertising
Why did you choose SFBI?
To be honest, I didn't know that much about the SFBI before I applied. It was a bit of a leap of faith. I read about the professional programme on a food blog that I read at the time (Chow). That lead me to do some digging, and the more I found out, the more I liked the sound of it. As I didn't have a background in baking, I was looking for a course that was going to prepare me for a job in the field, not just how to bake a range of breads, and the SFBI seemed like the only place that could really do that for me.
Why would you recommend SFBI?
First and foremost I'd recommend the SFBI because of the quality of the tuition. The professional programme is hands down the best value for money I have spent on education. The course was thorough and well structured. The tutors, knowledgeable. The facilities and environment, excellent. It prepared me brilliantly and gave me the confidence to transition from my previous career to one in baking. My 4+ months at the SFBI were really life changing.
What is your current job, and what positions did you have after graduating from SFBI, if any?
I now own and run my own sourdough bakery with my wife in London called Brick House - www.BrickHouseBread.com . We started trading in June of 2012, employ a crew of 4 bakers and a delivery driver. We are only a wholesale operation at present, but are now looking at premises in which to create a bakery cafe & shop, so I might be in touch with Michel soon to get some tips!
After the programme and before setting up Brick House I worked at a couple of places. One called Melrose & Morgan (www.melroseandmorgan.com) where I worked as a pastry chef, and the other as a baker at the e5 bakehouse (www.e5bakehouse.com)
Comments to people who are considering applying for the program
If you're serious about baking, either deepening your knowledge or changing career, the SFBI is the place to do it.