Date Posted: 26 April 2021
Do you love to get creative in the kitchen, particularly when it comes to baking? Are you artistic and want to work in a setting that allows self-expression to flourish? And does baking bring you joy? If so may want to consider becoming a pastry chef! Let us tell you more.
Pastry Chefs specialise in making pastries, desserts, breads, and other baked goods. There will never be a shortage in demand for pastries, as there will never be a shortage of people with a ‘sweet tooth’. When Australians require sweet creations, Pastry Chefs deliver.
Typically, Pastry Chefs are the head of a team made up of pastry cooks who execute recipes under the supervision of the Head Chef. The Pastry Chef is primarily responsible for managing bakers, decorators, and/ or pastry cooks. They play a crucial leadership role in the rankings of a professional kitchen comprised of ‘kitchen brigade’ or ‘brigade de cuisine’ – the entire kitchen staff.
Pastry Chefs work at hotels, cafes, restaurants, and bakeries. Here, they are expected to develop pastry menus, usually in collaboration with the Chef de Cuisine, also known as the Executive Chef or the Head Chef. Pastry Chefs may hold other similar titles such as Pâtissier. It’s also becoming popular for Pastry Chefs to work as entrepreneurs for their personal culinary business ventures. Sounds exciting, right?! You may be wondering, what is a day in the life of a Pastry Chef like?
A Pastry Chef researches, develops, and tests recipes for baked goods, including desserts, bread, and pastries. Additionally, they manage and supervise a team of pastry cooks, including training newly hired cooks. Pastry Chefs maintain an inventory to efficiently manage production requirements, including all items and necessary ingredients.
Pastry Chefs usually have the creative freedom and ability to design original menus from scratch. They may also choose to specialise in niches such as desserts, viennoiserie, cakes, ice cream, chocolate, and bread; however, most Pastry Chefs need to become a jack of all trades. Let’s take a look at the skills you should focus on acquiring during training…
To be a successful Pastry Chef, you must have a strong working knowledge of food preparation, safety, and baking techniques based on personal experience and study. You’ll possess expert knowledge on primary ingredients used in baked goods, such as flours, fats, sweeteners, chocolates, fruits, herbs, spices, and leavening agents.
A Pastry Chef can predict the outcome of a final product they wish to create based on ingredient combinations, ratios, times, and temperatures. One small change in a recipe can make a huge difference, so concentration is vital – even for mundane tasks. You will need excellent attention to detail to carefully research recipes, accurately measure ingredients, and exceed in tasks where physical or mental precision is involved, such as cake decorating.
Superior time management and organisational abilities are paramount. You must be a master planner, quickly adapting to challenges as they arise. These skills and attributes allow Pastry Chefs to excel in fast-paced kitchen environments while multitasking and meeting firm deadlines.
And finally, you must be able to communicate with your teammates effectively. Since your role within the kitchen brigade will require leadership, you’ll need to think and act strategically, ethically, and innovatively, leading by example.
There are many paths to becoming a Pastry Chef, but usually a combination of the following should get you there: experience working in a professional kitchen, attending culinary school, and/ or completing an internship, also known as a “stage” amongst culinary professionals.
At the beginning of your professional culinary journey to becoming a Pastry Chef in Australia, you may question where to even start. A popular way is to begin working in a kitchen as a dish-washer, prep cook, or line cook, with the view of working your way up to a supervisor role such as a Pastry Chef.
By attending culinary school, you may accelerate your professional progress by avoiding lower kitchen staff positions. There’s a diverse portfolio of international culinary schools and programs out there, each with varying lengths of stay, tuition costs, and options to specialise. You may not be immediately hired as a Pastry Chef when you graduate; you’ll achieve a ‘Certificate in Patisserie’ rather than a degree, however, it will give you solid foundations in culinary techniques.
It’s also common to complete an apprenticeship in a professional kitchen for an agreed-upon short period of time, often without pay or minimal pay. If you’re curious about different types of cuisines and cooking methods, make sure you apprentice in multiple kitchens to gain first-hand experience preparing various styles of food.
Considering the above, it may take months or years of hard work to climb the professional ladder, but the good news is the Pastry Chef profession is yours if you put the work in.
In Australia, the current average Pastry Chef salary falls within the range of $60k up to $65k annually, or about $30 per hour. Entry-level Pastry Chefs can earn $50k up to $55k yearly, while highly experienced and advanced Pastry Chefs may earn upwards of about $85k. These base salaries often include benefits packages comprised of additional tips and paid time off.
It goes without saying that Pastry Chefs are ambitious, driven, multi-talented, and creative individuals. This unique role that involves researching, testing, and developing fresh, inspired pastry menus requires dedication, passion, and perseverance. To become a Pastry Chef, you’ll need to be a positive and highly skilled communicator and a leader. The ongoing desire to learn and innovate will enable you to continue creating wonderful sweet treats for everyone to enjoy.
At Chef Works, we are driven by those who are inspired by all things culinary. Fueled by the belief that every culinary professional deserves the right apparel and tools to enhance the work they do. We understand that the recipe for excellence goes far beyond simple ingredients.
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