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What is a Pastry Chef?
A pastry chef is also known as a pâtissier. This type of culinary professional is usually responsible for making pastries and other types of baked goods.
Pies, cookies, tarts, and cakes are all usually made by pastry chefs. Although they are usually responsible for the sweet baked treats at restaurants and bakeries, these chefs will also bake foods like rolls and breads as well.
What Does a Pastry Chef Do?
In general, a pastry chef has very similar duties as many other chefs and culinary arts professionals. They often work closely with other kitchen staff members, and may even oversee other employees as well.
The work schedule of a pastry chef is often very vigorous. Baking typically begins very early in the morning, so pastry chefs often start work much earlier than other members of the kitchen staff. They also typically work very long hours, with very few chances for breaks, especially right before mealtimes. Some pastry chefs may even work two or more different shifts in one day, leaving for a few hours and returning to work later.
Baking, in general, typically requires following recipes precisely. A pastry chef will typically need to accurately measure and mix ingredients – like flour, sugar, butter, and eggs – in order to create his works of culinary art. Other ingredients area also usually added for flavor, such as lemon zest, cocoa, and vanilla. Once the ingredients are mixed, they are then usually baked in a hot oven.
The baking time is also usually very important when making most pastries. Nearly all baked goods should be in an oven for a certain period of time, and a pastry chef should pay close attention to how long each of his creations has been baking for. If the batter is baked too long, the finished product will be hard and dry. If the batter is not baked long enough, on the other hand, the finished product will usually be soft, runny, and possibly even dangerous.
Finishing touches are then usually added after the pastries are baked. This can include details such as icing, crystallized flowers, sprinkled sugar, or drizzled chocolate. These tiny details not only add an additional taste to the pastry, but they also add to the aesthetics.
Where Does a Pastry Chef Work?
Technically, a pastry chef can work anywhere that there is a kitchen equipped with the necessary tools and equipment. Many quality restaurants employ pastry chefs, as do some hotels and casinos. Established bakeries are also often on the lookout for talented and experienced pastry chefs.
Pastry chefs that prefer to work for themselves may want to consider looking into opening their own bakeries. This usually involves some knowledge of business, however, and a business degree is usually recommended.
What Are the Educational Requirements for a Successful Pastry Chef Career?
As with many culinary professionals, a pastry chef may be able to start his career by working in an entry level position and working his way up. However, the best way to start a pastry chef career is by enrolling in a culinary arts diploma or degree program.
Culinary arts schools are typically the best option for individuals interested in a pastry chef career. Students enrolled in culinary arts programs will often be able to take courses in baking and deserts. Internships are also sometimes offered to promising future pastry chefs as well.
What is the Average Salary For a Pastry Chef?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, head chefs made an average annual salary of $44,780 in 2010. Bakers, on the other hand, made an average annual salary of around $25,350 in that same year.
Research suggests that pastry chefs can expect to make annual salaries between the average amounts of these two professions. More experienced chefs, obviously, will be able to make slightly more money, as will chefs located in more densely populated areas.