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 maths, and food safety. Some schools even offer specialised programs that focus directly on pastries and offer an extensive apprenticeship.
So, What is 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 colour of the baked item to judge if any adjustments may be necessary in temperature, humidity or conveyor equipment speeds.
Pastry chefs create pies, candies, chocolates, cookies, cakes, ice cream, custards and bread. They not only create desserts but also order ingredients, keep inventory, deal with wholesalers, develop new recipes and provide input on menu-planning. The job demands abundant testing and sampling of new creations, which can be both rewarding and delicious. Nearly every restaurant, cafe, market and grocery store chain sell sweets and there is no doubt that people will always have a sweet tooth.
Some responsibilities of a Pastry Chef:
- Creating, testing and evaluating new pastry and dessert recipes
- Keeping a budget for the pastry department
- Buying fresh fruits and berries and ordering supplies from various vendors
- Supervising chefs in training in the pastry kitchen
- Discuss menu planning with the other chefs in the restaurant
- Keeping the kitchen organised
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.
What can be the specialities of a pastry chef?
- Confiserie or sweet making
The confiseur prepares all of the petits fours, dry and fresh fruit sweets, praline, pastillage and sugar work centrepieces. Pastry chef specialised in sugar artistry will use modern techniques applied to showpieces and sugar creation including casting, pulling, and blowing as well as cold sugar based preparations such as royal icing and pastillage.
The chocolatier works only with chocolate. He or she makes truffles and bonbons, showpieces and speciality items for banquets and special events. Tempering, ganache, piping designs, moulding, shaping and rolling or coating are important techniques to become a chocolatier.
- Ice cream
The glacier produces all types of ice cream and other frozen preparations. The glacier may also be responsible for ice sculptures.
The boulanger or bake is responsible for all breads as well as some basic viennoiserie preparations such as puff pastry, croissants, dough and sweet doughs.
The décorateur (decorator) prepare showpieces and speciality cakes in larger restaurant or for specialist pastry boutique.
What Is The Average UK Salary for a Pastry Chef?
A pastry chef is a varied role within the chef industry as there are so many specialities that can be based around this title and the salary reflects this. What is a pastry chef salary? Kitchen position salaries depend greatly on the establishment, the location and the previous experience of the pastry chef.
The salary for a pastry chef within the UK can range between £24,000 – £29,000 (this is based on the average London wage but of course this can vary depending on the establishment / company).
What is the career progression of a pastry chef?
It is often recommended to begin your career with an apprenticeship or an internship. As a pastry chef you can then decide to work as part of a restaurant / hotel team or to open your own pastry business.
As member of a large patisserie department within a restaurant or hotel, you will start as a commis pâtissier, before becoming chef de partie to then progress to Chef and finally Executive chef.