The world of pastry is seductive, creative, and of course, delicious. In the professional kitchen, pastry chefs are responsible for creating all the delicious delights at your favorite restaurants, events and even grocery stores. Becoming a pastry chef does not happen overnight; in fact, it takes more training than a typical restaurant chef, but the good news is that with all that extra training, you will have a rewarding and tasty career in your future.
A formal education is not required for pastry chefs, but some restaurants prefer it. By attending a culinary arts program in baking and pastry at a two-year or four-year institution, you will learn the skills needed as a pastry chef. During your education, you will receive in-class and in-kitchen training on a variety of courses, such as specialty cakes, chocolate, confectionaries, plating, nutrition, fundamentals, sanitation, and management.
Apprenticeship programs are an alternative to culinary school. With the high prices associated with formal training, more pastry chefs are earning their reputation through apprenticeship programs such as the one offered by the American Culinary Federation. These are on-the-job, paid training positions that provide you with the instruction and expertise of some of the industry’s finest pastry chefs. The only drawback to an apprenticeship, however, is that you will need more time for your training and still have to take 12 formal courses such as nutrition, safety, and management.
The world of pastry is one of patience and accuracy. Unlike traditional cooking, pastry requires precise measurement, excellent memory skills and the ability to work with a variety of mediums. Pastry chefs need organizational skills, the ability to multi-task, and a great attention for detail.
Some restaurants require a certification for pastry chefs. Earning a professional certification helps a pastry chef show off her industry knowledge and skills and also opens the door for Master Chef Applications. The American Culinary Federation offers a variety of certifications, with the lowest being a Certified Pastry Culinarian and the highest being a Master Pastry Chef. To earn a certification, you must have a specific number of hours of experience in the industry, training, and the completion of 90 hours of coursework. You also must pass a variety of written and practical exams.
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