A pastry chef is someone who is schooled and skilled in the making of pastries, desserts, bread and other baked goods. Some pastry items may include cakes, cookies, cupcakes, pies, tortes and ice cream. Pastry chefs are employed in large hotels, bistros, restaurants, bakeries, and some cafés.
A pastry chef is typically found in a professional kitchen and is the station chef of the pastry department. As with other station chefs, the pastry chef may have other chefs or assistants within their department. Bakers may also be members of the pastry department in larger establishments. Some pastry chefs prefer to have their own small business, running a bakery or dessert shop.
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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 sells sweets and there is no doubt that people will always have a sweet tooth.
Some responsibilities of a Pastry Chef:
If you work at a high-end establishment, the pastry kitchen or pastry section is usually slightly separate from the main kitchen. Pastry chefs often have other assistants to assist them.
There are many different types of bakeries and pastry shops to work from as well; mom-and-pop shops that do their own baking and pastry making, franchise bakeries and industrial bakeries. Many bakers and pastry chefs work in small retail bakeries or big wholesale suppliers of baked goods. They also work in department stores, at 'in-house' bakeries in supermarkets, food store chains, hotels, restaurants, bistros, cruise ships, resorts and casinos.
Being a pastry chef allows you to experiment with recipes, indulge your creativity and master the fine art of baking. However, even if you're a natural in the kitchen, you still must earn a pastry arts associate degree to be competitive in the industry. Some two- and four-year colleges offer pastry arts programs, as do specialty culinary arts training schools.
Sarah Allman has been baking in her own kitchen, bakeries and high-end restaurants for the past 12 years. A native of Peterborough, Ontario (an hour outside of Toronto), she developed her passion for baking at a young age, unknowingly apprenticing with her great grandmother at the age of eight.
I no longer work in a pastry kitchen full time, but this is an accurate representation of my day when I worked production at a fine dining restaurant. I didn’t feel like changing all of this to the past tense, so just go with it! If you’re considering becoming a pastry chef, chef or cook and you have never cooked professionally, you should probably give this a read.
Once again I’m thrilled to have Chef Jennifer Field, a graduate of Orlando Culinary Academy, write about the life of a baking & pastry chef. I asked Jenni to give my readers a glimpse of what one of her days look like working as the pastry chef at The Ravenous Pig in Winterpark, Florida. As you will see, her day is busy….really busy.
There is no one type of pastry chef. For this I am grateful. Not only does it give diners zillions of delicious opportunities to be surprised, educated, and challenged; but our differences provide us limitless platforms for divergence, growth, inspiration, comparison, and conversation.
Confession: As we worked late into the night bringing this story to life, there sat between us a small plate towering with Publican-made pastries. Inspiration, we assured one another, while we nibbled and typed, interrupting the other’s work here and there with an mmmm we could not restrain. Subtle in their decadence and with a simple, homespun elegance, the Publican’s pastries are often more than the closing taste of a meal.
I get a lot of e-mails asking about my experience with going to a professional pastry school, how to pick a good pastry school, and whether or not to go to pastry school. Excellent questions, all of them. I finally decided to gather all my thoughts together and put them down on this page. I hope you find this helpful and perhaps you’ll learn a little bit more about where this pastry girl came from!
My inbox is overflowing like a molten lava cake. Turns out, some of you want to be pastry chefs and are looking for advice on the how to go about it. Well, thanks for thinking of me, I’m happy to help. I’ll tell you what I wish someone told me when I first started because at the time, I had no idea how I was going to do it, and the thought of it left me bewildered. It was like trying to swim across the ocean.
Are you a creative type who also likes to know the hows and whys of everything you do? Do you enjoy making desserts that taste wonderful and are beautiful, too? If so, you might enjoy being a pastry artist.