How to Become a Pastry Chef
Imagine a world filled with creating beautiful edible masterpieces with only a few basic ingredients and an artistic ability. This is the world that a pastry chef lives in everyday. For those who enjoy cooking, art and making new things everyday starting the path to become a pastry chef is easier than you may think.
There are many different environments that a pastry chef may work including resorts, hotels, restaurants, bakeries and private catering. Where you decide to work after becoming a pastry chef is completely up to you; the sky is the limit.
Education Requirements to Become a Pastry Chef
Most people decide to attend a culinary school in order to become a pastry chef. To prepare for such an endeavor in high school, take standard curriculum classes in math, science, English and art. Take cooking classes if your school offers them to get acquainted with the kitchen. Any type of work in a food preparation setting also helps to gain experience in food safety, a very important aspect of culinary arts.
The most common way to become a pastry chef is to attend a culinary school for baking and pastry arts. Some community colleges offer certificates and degrees in the field. A Bachelors degree option is also available, most commonly in the hotel and restaurant management field. Typical culinary schools have baking programs that can be completed in under two years and include an internship portion of the program to gain valuable work experience. While a cooking school will teach you about the technical aspects of baking, practice in many techniques is also needed to rise to the top of your class. Many students will take on a part-time job during school to practice their skills.
Pastry Chef Job Description
One thing that you will need to know before deciding to become a pastry chef is some of the typical duties you will encounter. Some skills are used more than others depending on the location and the amount of people working in the bakeshop. The primary role of a pastry chef is to oversee the general operation of the facility as well as quality control.
For example, a pastry chef working at a large resort will be responsible for multiple kitchens. Working in a smaller private bakery will mean that you are responsible for only that one location. Both have job titles of pastry chef, but the difference is in the location and clientele they create.
Some other duties may include:
- Baking cakes and pastries
- Preparing creams, gelatins and fillings
- Talking with clients to understand their needs
- Develop new recipes
- Take responsibility of the overall operation of the facility
Pastry Chef Salary and Career Path
Many pastry chefs start out working in a different role in a commercial kitchen before reaching this title. Start out by taking on any job in a bakeshop to gain valuable experience. After a while, you will learn how the operation works and how pastry skills are developed. Working in a general kitchen is still valuable, but it is better to be in a bakeshop if pastry chef is the career goal.
Showing your ability to perform the work to a potential employer becomes difficult for those in the culinary field. To help with this, a certification process is put in place to show potential employers that you harness a certain amount of skill to do the job. The American Culinary Federation offers various levels of pastry chef certification. It requires a certain number of years working on the previous level depending on your formal education. Keeping this in mind, it is very important to work an entry level position as early as possible.
The average earnings for a pastry chef will depend on location, type of establishment and how many people they are responsible for. An average pay range is around $50,000 a year and upward of $90,000 a year in major resorts and casinos. Pastry chefs may also open their own business, making the earnings potential completely open to the hard work and dedication.
If you are interested in creating something new every day while using your creative intuition, consider becoming a pastry chef. There are many jobs in tourist driven markets as well as in your own community. Since baking and pastry is a specialized part of culinary arts, the only competition is those that have also attend culinary school; it brings down the competition as compared to general cooking.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics