how to become a pastry chef

What does a Pastry Chef do?

A pastry chef specializes in desserts like cakes, cookies, and many other pastries. Additionally, they prepare, bake, and decorate pastries. In fact, they are also skilled to pair pastries to compliment menus, hot/cold beverages, or even wines. When working at a fine restaurant, they may also work with the chef when crafting the menu. Next, watch a video to learn more about being a pastry chef.

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

pastry chef and baker

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 the success of the product and ensure that they are appealing to the eye. However, the main difference between a pastry chef and baker is 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 who 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 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. However, some work in hotels and resorts around the country. Though they can work long hours and are on their feet most of the day, they often work in the morning and get off early. They work around ovens, stoves, and kitchen machines, therefore it can get very hot during the day. Additionally, 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. This course also provides an option to pay a small fee to attain a certification upon completion.

Article Citations

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.