If you have a sweet tooth, a passion for baking, and a streak of creativity, you’d probably enjoy a career as a pastry chef. In this role, you’d get to create delicious and decadent treats that would satisfy anyone’s sugar craving. Plus, you would manage the dessert menu and baking station for a restaurant, cafe, or bakery. With a pinch of culinary skills and a dash of business sense, you could embark on a satisfying career as a pastry chef.
What Do Pastry Chefs Do?
A pastry chef does not have the same job as a baker, although there are some similarities. While you would bake—and bake a lot—you’d have more responsibilities as a pastry chef than you would as a baker. You would use your creativity to craft a dessert menu that customers would enjoy. You would test new recipes and perfect old ones. You’d also manage the dessert station in the kitchen, which comes with a separate set of responsibilities outside of baking:
- Manage Bakers: Depending on the size of the restaurant you work in, you may be in charge of a baker’s assistant or a small staff of bakers. You’ll train them on health and safety standards as well as the recipes they’ll need to replicate.
- Handle Health and Safety: You’ll need to follow the proper guidelines for food safety and ensure your staff does, too. You’ll also need to obey federal, state, and local guidelines for employee wellbeing.
- Order Supplies: Running low on sugar? It’s your job to keep track of your baking supplies and ingredients and to order more from your vendors before you run out.
What Skills Do I Need to Be a Pastry Chef?
Of course, you’ll need to have a great set of baking skills to be a good pastry chef. But it takes more than a knowledge of sugars, doughs, and mixtures to succeed in this career. You‘ll need to have a variety of skills to properly manage the pastry side of the kitchen, including:
- Basic Math: You don’t need to be a master of calculus or algebra, but you should be able to do basic calculations. You’ll need to be able to convert ingredient measurements and balance your supply expenses quickly and accurately.
- Science: When you cook, it’s okay to add a dash of this and a sprinkle of that to a recipe. But baking is an exact science—which means you’ll need an understanding of chemistry and how ingredients react. If you don’t follow baking recipes with precision and accuracy, you could ruin your whole creation.
- Communication: You’ll work with people as much as pastries, from the kitchen staff to customers. You’ll need to be able to communicate clearly with your staff and provide excellent customer service to your consumers.
- Creativity: You need to have a flair for creativity. Your desserts will need to taste great and look like works of art. You should also be willing to try new techniques and recipes. You should be open to experimenting with new ingredients and tailoring your menu to meet the majority of your customers’ needs. For instance, if you work in a restaurant that offers vegan or gluten-free options, you should extend those options to the dessert menu.
How Do I Become a Pastry Chef?
The path to a pastry chef career requires passion and knowledge. Start with an accredited training program that will teach you the baking techniques and management skills you’ll need on the job. At the Pennsylvania School of Culinary Arts — a division of YTI Career Institute — Lancaster, you’ll learn how to plate desserts, decorate cakes, and work with chocolate and sugar to create beautiful, edible pieces of art. You’ll learn from real pastry chefs in a kitchen setting, and you can complete the program in as few as 12 months.
If you’re ready to start your pastry chef training, contact us to learn more about our Pastry Arts program. Fill out the form now to request more information.