If you not only love eating desserts but making them as well, why not consider doing it as a profession? If you've always wondered how to become a pastry chef, here are some pointers that will help you get started on a chef career:
- Know the different skills involved. Being a pastry chef may be fun, but it definitely requires a lot of skills and even personal characteristics for you to truly succeed in this profession. For example, a good pastry chef needs to have high stamina, since baking is commonly done in large batches (if you are employed at a bakery, for example) and hours before the store opens (in that case, in the early hours of the morning). You should also have artistic flair and creativity to create your own flavors and designs, and possess a good eye for details. You should be very careful and organized since pastries need exact measurements of ingredients for them to come out excellently. You should know how to work with a team. When it comes to more industry-based knowledge, you have to have extensive knowledge of different areas such as basic food preparation, proper measurement of ingredients, food chemistry, nutrition, decorating techniques and - this is highly important - food safety measures.
- Know the education you have to acquire. To help you gain the necessary knowledge and skills, it's highly important that you acquire necessary training. There are many accredited training schools that will educate you on the basic skills you need for entry-level employment. This training usually takes a few months to a little over a year, after which you acquire a certificate and diploma. You may also enroll in a two-year associate degree course which gives you more specialized training in different aspects of baking. However, if you are aiming for a management position, it's best that you take up a relevant bachelor's degree, which has courses in management and business. Remember, however, that a chef career is a skills-based profession, and these are skills that you gain with on-the-job experience. That's why even though training helps you prepare to enter this industry, looking for a job that enables you to develop your skills is also highly important.
- Know the job descriptions and employment opportunities. Job descriptions depend on the actual position and the company you'll be working for. If you want to be a basic pastry cook, for example, expect most of your time on the job to be spent preparing pastry dishes available on the menu. If you want to be a personal chef, you should be in constant coordination with your client to know about his preferences, nutritional needs, allergies, etc. so you know which conditions you need to take into consideration while conceptualizing your recipes and creations. If you like to hold a management position at a high-end restaurant or if you want to start up your own pastry business, you have to oversee such details as chef uniforms, ingredients, supplies and production.
Apart from your job position, other factors that determine your actual job descriptions would be the kind of restaurant, bakeshop or company you'd be working for. Some of your options include finding employment at a French pastry restaurant, high-end establishments offering international pastry cuisines all over the world, or a basic home restaurant with apple pie and different types of bread on the menu.
There you have it! The main things to remember are that being a pastry chef offers so many different opportunities that you'll be sure to find one you'll feel most at home in. So if this appeals to you, why not go and get started on this career track? Good luck!