Fantasize about quitting your job and starting a little bakery in your neighborhood? That’s exactly what the professional program at the San Francisco Baking Institute will train you to do. Little known outside the restaurant world (its president and founder Michel Suas hates marketing), the SFBI offers one of the most prestigious baking programs in the country. Students enrolled in its professional program will spend 17 weeks, full-time, learning every aspect of baking, from breads (sourdoughs included), to pastry (wedding cakes, elaborately plated desserts, etc), to viennoiserie (sweet yeasted stuff like breakfast pastries). After graduation, top students have the opportunity to intern at the school’s working bakery in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, Thorough Bread. If any graduate decides to start his or her own bakery, Suas provides free consulting on everything from building a business plan to sourcing equipment.

I saw the talents of SFBI students first hand at both the SF Food Wars Yeast Affliction bread competition, where they swept the top prizes, and last Friday’s professional program graduation. Below is a slide show taken at the graduation. The students spent an entire week baking for the celebration: tables were laden with a staggering number and range of breads, pastries, confections, and even pizza.

Images by Eric Slatkin of

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