Pastry chefs are constantly in demand from places like cruise lines, weddings, business conferences, hotels, restaurants, and of course local bakeries.
Having an idea of where you want to go with your career or business will better direct your efforts with regard to level of education you'll need, the kind of salary to expect, and what skills and personal characteristics you will need. This guide will give you a little taste of what to expect if you want to become a professional pastry chef.
Firstly, What does a Pastry Chef Do?
Being a pastry chef requires long days and un-traditional work hours because you need your product ready when the customers arrive each day. Many successful chefs prefer the quiet and serenity of baking alone in the early hours each morning. If you enjoy creative work in solitude you will look forward to your mornings of prep work.
You must be extremely precise and detail-oriented - yes even at 3 in the morning!
For example, things like dough must have perfect rise times after mixing, and every step of preparation must be carefully attended to. There is often little room for error in this industry.
Of any type of chef work in this industry, the pastry chef is held to the highest quality standards. For example, there are specific chemical reactions that must happen exactly on time when baking fine pastries. There are precise measurements and temperatures to adhere to with everything you make - and timing must be regimented.
What Education do you need to become a pastry chef?
Should you seek individual training, industry experience, or begin with formal cooking school training?
Many professional pastry chefs or head chefs want their pastry chefs with a basic food knowledge and skill level, but prefer to train one-on-one when it comes to baking techniques, recipes and inventory management.
They set up their kitchen to run a certain way and want the operations to continue the same way, whether they are in the kitchen or not. It is often easier to work with new chefs that will eagerly learn the owner, or head-chef's methods without bringing formal education to the table.
Undergraduate courses in pastry arts, such as secondary education cooking school credentials, and individual cooking classes may be enough of a foundation to begin an apprentice position in some industry areas.
A Pastry Arts Associate's Degree covers hands-on components of coursework and lectures on the science of baking.
Many culinary schools offer an on-site cafe' to advance students in learning the baking situations that come up daily in the "real world" environment. The menu process is a first step, graduating to studies in industry requirements like safe food handling, nutrition, cost control and purchasing.
How to Become a Pastry Chef Without Going to School?
A question we get a lot is "how can I become a professional without any schooling?"
It's a great question, and there are many reasons why this can be a concern for some. The truth is, while it certainly helps to have a proper education, you don't necessarily need it (as long as your potential future employers don't require it).
So what can you do to boost your chances of becoming a pastry chef without going to university or college?
An Apprentice position as a pastry chef with an experienced chef in an actual bakery or kitchen. After all, there's no better education than real-life experience.
What does it take to become a pastry chef?
There are many skills and qualities that pastry chefs need to have in order to be skilful in their career path. They have a very good eye for detail to ensure the desserts and pastries are aesthetically pleasing for consumers and meets the brief for the occasion. What’s more pastry chefs are good at making measurements to ensure the right chemical reactions are taking place. Below, we will discuss just three of the many qualities pastry chefs possess.
Creative: Pastry chefs are creative individuals; they have the opportunity to make up their own decorative designs with a range of resources such as using icing or marzipan. Pâtissiers must be open to incorporating new food items into menus, and improving older recipes. Creativity and imagination will keep customers coming back.
Physically fit: Pastry chefs tend to have good stamina as they stand on their feet for long hours developing recipes and preparing desserts, some typically work 12-hour days. In order to succeed at their job, they keep a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly.
Patient: Patience is a quality that pastry chefs need to possess as it takes a while to prepare and wait for the desserts to cook fully. Preparing a multi-tiered wedding cake, or a soufflé, requires patience. Becoming irritable or frustrated may cause to rush the process and compromise the integrity of the food. It is important for a pastry chef to remain calm and confident in any situation. They also have to be good at multitasking to ensure the pastries have the right tastes and textures.