Pastry Chef Careers and Jobs

Pastry chef careers range from jobs in the food industry to teaching classes at chef schools. Traditionally, pastry chefs have jobs in restaurants, bakeries (or French boulangeries), bistros, hotels, or work for catering companies.

The job description of a pastry chef (or pâtissier, in French) is someone who makes pastries, desserts, breads, and other types of baked goods.

Pastry Chef Skills

Pastry chefs need to have the culinary expertise and experience to make a wide variety of desserts and baked goods, including doing confectionery work and creating centerpiece or showpieces (notably desserts like wedding cakes). They must, therefore, not only understand and appreciate the subtleties of flavor pairings and different tastes, but they should also have a good aesthetic sense for food and pastry presentation.

Similarly, it is important for a pastry chef to be creative, detail-oriented, and passionate about they work that she does and the desserts she creates. Being enthusiastic about the idea of having a full-time job making cakes, tarts, and other pastries is vital for career success and happiness.

Furthermore, pastry chefs working in professional kitchens may have assistants or sous-chefs, such as bakers, confectioners, and those responsible for dessert decoration and presentation. It is thus imperative for a good pastry chef to also be a good and attentive manager, capable of accomplishing his own job as well as surveying the work of the other pastry chefs. As a leader, a top chef also helps guide and inspires the other chefs working with him. (Remember: every head pastry chef was once just beginning their career and looking to the more experienced chefs and bakers for direction.)

Pastry Chef Responsibilities

Pastry chefs who work in restaurants are responsible for deciding the dessert menu. They also meet with the other chefs to plan the whole menu such that the desserts are complementary to the appetizers and entrées, allowing for good food pairing.

A pastry chef will also research and test new and different dessert and baking recipes, often experimenting with the recipe to add his own personal touches.

Another task for pastry chefs is working on the budget for the baking and pastry department of the kitchen; he is also responsible for ordering ingredients and supplies. Consequently, the pastry chef will also work with the chefs of other departments to develop the overall budget for the kitchen (notably for restaurants, bistros, cafés, and hotels).

Jobs with Early Morning Hours

One necessary characteristic of a baker or pastry chef is that she be a morning person (or, at least, be able to adapt to waking at early hours). Pastry chefs often start work between 2 am and 4 am. This is especially true for bakers and chefs working in bakeries or who supply bread and breakfast pastries to cafés, hotels, and restaurants; such baked goods are made the same day to ensure freshness and the best flavor, meaning that the baking process must begin before dawn.

If you’ve ever been to Paris and decided to go for a walk in the early morning hours (when experiencing jet lag), you’ve probably noticed the lights on in all of the boulangeries as the day’s supply of croissants, pain au chocolat and baguettes are being made by authentic French pastry chefs.