A pastry chef is a professional that specializes in desserts such as cakes, cookies, and many other pastries. The primary responsibility is baking, preparing or pairing baked sweets to match demands, menus, hot/cold beverages, or even wines recommended by the main chef if they are working in a fine dining restaurant.
How to Become Pastry Chef
Experience is key for a pastry chef. A high school diploma or its equivalent is usually the minimum requirement to enter this career field, though it is pertinent to find employment to gain experience. Most start in a variety of other positions in the kitchen and advance as they gain more on the job training from bakers or other pastry makers that may work with. You can also attend a technical school or community college to earn credentials as well by learning nutrition, basic math, and food safety. Some schools even offer specialized programs that focus directly on pastries and offer an extensive apprenticeship.
Job Description of a Pastry Chef
A pastry chef is commonly mistaken with a baker; though some tasks are very similar. Duties include baking and mixing ingredients to be used in pastries, pies, cakes, and cookies. They make sure oven temperatures are set correctly for baking and monitor the color of the baked item to judge if any adjustments may be necessary in temperature, humidity or conveyor equipment speeds.
You need to innovative, creative, detailed oriented, have an artistic eye, and have the ability to lead. They decorate certain pastries with glazing, icing or other ingredients to make them appealing to the customer. They monitor the measurements, shape and cooking time of baked goods to ensure success of the product and ensure that they are appealing to the eye. However, the main difference between a pastry chef and baker are what they are responsible for. The word “chef” is the main difference, it includes management, administrative duties, and leading a team in preparing pastries as well. Therefore they have a Pastry chef has a greater responsibility in the management and interactions of staff, most of the time with a team of bakers.
Pastry chefs create small quantities and complex desserts. The complexity of these desserts leads them to spend more time decorating and preparing at times. They also work with restaurant’s chefs to pair desserts with meals being prepared or wines offered each evening. Pastry chefs use recipes or create new ones using their own creativity however, in addition they are still having to maintain records, order food, manage staff, and ensure food safety standards are being met. Most pastry chefs work in fine dining restaurants, bakeries, or bistros. Some even work in hotels and resorts around the country. They can work long hours and are on their feet most of the day. They work around ovens, stoves, and kitchen machines, therefore it can get very hot during the day. They work in a professional kitchen and are usually assigned a station amongst other members of the kitchen management.
Free Teacher and Student Resources
Harvard University offers a free Science and Cooking course on EdX.org (link opens in a new tab) with the option to pay a small fee receive a verified certificate upon completion of the course.
By taking this course, you’ll learn:
- The chemical and physical principles that underlie everyday cooking and haute cuisine techniques.
- How chefs can use enzymes to make foods that would otherwise be impossible.
- How to use the scientific method to learn how a recipe works, and find ways you could improve it.
- How to think like a chef AND a scientist.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Chefs and Head Cooks.
National Center for O*NET Development. 35-1011.00. O*NET OnLine.