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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a pastry chef?

Pastry chefs specialize in preparing sweet goods, such as cakes, cookies, and muffins.

A pastry chef is a baker specialized in making cakes, cookies and other desserts.

They also need to assure that the workplace is clean and meets the food safety regulations.

A pastry chef’s job duties include verifying the quality of the ingredients and cleaning the work area and equipment.

Some pastry chefs are also responsible for hiring and training the kitchen staff.

Pastry chefs must be detail-oriented and they need good communication and math skills, physical stamina, and strength.

They are also responsible for managing and coordinating kitchen staff, so they need good leadership and management skills.

How much does a pastry chef make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for chefs and head cooks was $48,460 in May of 2018.

The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,320, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $81,150.

How much a pastry chef makes depends on their level of experience and the restaurant or the bakery where they work.

How much does it cost to become a pastry chef?

Most pastry chefs learn through long-term on-the-job training.

Some also participate in an apprenticeship program.

Two-year associate’s programs and four-year bachelor’s degree programs in baking and pastry arts can also teach you the skills needed to start a career in this field.

An associate’s degree program can range between $10,000-$40,000 a year, depending on the school you choose.

Bachelor’s degree programs cost from $35,000 to more than $100,000 per year.

Certification is not required but may help give you an advantage over your competitors on the job market.

The American Culinary Federation offers certification for pastry chefs.

The requirements regarding education and experience vary depending on the level of certification you want.

The application fee for the Certified Master Pastry Chef certification is $300.

You will also have to pay an exam fee which varies depending on location.

What is the demand for pastry chefs?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for chefs is expected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028.

As the number of restaurants and the demand for pastries increases, the demand for pastry chefs is also expected to grow.

However, the competition is expected to be strong and a certificate or a degree in this field can help you get an advantage over your competitors.

How long does it take to become a pastry chef?

In order to become a pastry chef, you need several years of experience in the field.

You could also increase your chances of finding employment in the field by getting a two-year or four-year college degree in baking and pastry arts.

The American Culinary Federation also offers certification for pastry chefs.

In order to obtain a Certified Master Pastry Chef certification, which proves the highest degree of professional knowledge, you have to pass an intensive 8-day examination.

Those who apply for certification also need a few years of experience in the field.

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