What Does A Pastry Chef Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

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Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Pastry Chefs

Pastry Chefs specialize in the creation and decoration of desserts, including pastries, cakes, and pies. They often work in bakeries or restaurants and are responsible for the dessert items on the menu.

Salary
$54300
Personality
Interest Match





Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

Pastry Chefs are responsible for baking some of the most delicious, visually appealing desserts. It can be a fun career with access to employment at a wide range of establishments.

While people often associate Pastry Chefs with bakeries, they also work at grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, and even hospitals. It is also a surprisingly competitive field, requiring aspiring Pastry Chefs to attend Culinary School or pursue undergraduate studies.

Working as a Pastry Chef is also a demanding job. If you think you have what it takes, take a closer look at the job duties and requirements for Pastry Chefs.

What they do

Pastry Chefs specialize in the creation and decoration of desserts, including pastries, cakes, and pies. They often work in bakeries or restaurants and are responsible for the dessert items on the menu.

Create and decorate a wide variety of pastries

The primary job of the Pastry Chef is to bake various pastries to meet the requirements of an employer or customers. There are traditionally five basic types of pastries, including short crust, filo, choux, flaky, and puff pastries. Pastries are often covered or filled with other ingredients and toppings. Common examples include Danishes, tortes, and croissants.

Along with pastries, Pastry Chefs typically prepare bread and other types of desserts. Depending on the employer, a Pastry Chef may make cupcakes, cakes, muffins, and various sweets.

A major part of the preparation of a pastry or dessert is the presentation. Pastry Chefs often need to use their creativity and artistic abilities to make sweets and snacks more visually appealing.

Plan the dessert or pastry menu to complement other foods

When working at a food establishment, a Pastry Chef may be tasked with selecting desserts and pastries that work well with other menu items. For example, a Pastry Chef may coordinate with the Head Chef to determine which desserts pair well with a new dish on the menu.

Many restaurants frequently update their menus to attract new customers and to give repeat customers more variety. A Pastry Chef is typically responsible for choosing which items to prepare.

Prepare custom pastries and desserts for customers

When working at a custom bakery, the Pastry Chef often creates pastries and desserts based on the needs of their customers. Customers may request specific types of desserts for special occasions, requiring the Pastry Chef to understand a wide range of recipes.

Manage the inventory and equipment in the kitchen

Pastry Chefs are often responsible for managing the inventory of ingredients used to make various pastries and desserts. A Pastry Chef may need to frequently take stock of the inventory and order new ingredients to ensure that they have everything needed to prepare food items.

Along with managing the inventory, the Pastry Chef needs to manage and maintain the equipment and utensils in the kitchen. This involves cleaning, sanitizing, and storing equipment and food preparation surfaces.

Create new recipes from scratch to attract more customers

Restaurants and custom bakeries may require a Pastry Chef to create original pastries and desserts from scratch, to help their menu items stand out. This requires extensive knowledge of the culinary arts. Pastry Chefs should understand how ingredients work together to create different textures, flavors, and visual designs.

Work with other Pastry Chefs in a fast-paced kitchen environment

Large restaurants and bakeries may employ multiple Pastry Chefs. In these settings, there is often a senior Pastry Chef and several junior Chefs.

Junior Pastry Chefs may not be directly involved in the creation of new recipes. They typically work under a senior Pastry Chef, helping to maintain equipment and provide support for various baking tasks.

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What is the job like

Carolyn Truett
An upscale restaurant

I’ve worked as a Pastry Chef in an upscale restaurant and baked desserts for a bread bakery for several years. I’ve also worked at a cake bakery frosting cakes 8 hours a day.

Now my day looks much different than when I worked in a commercial kitchen but I’m still up to my elbows with batter!

At the bread bakery, I prepped all the ingredients the day before, showed up at 4:30 a.m. the next day to start mixing, whisking, and scooping. I made teacakes, scones, cookies, and cinnamon rolls that all came out of the oven by opening time at 7 a.m. Afterward, I would help knead loaves of bread then prep the ingredients for the next day and I was out by 12:30 p.m. I’d take a 4-hour nap and do it all again the next day. It was exhausting but I loved the work and my snarky coworkers who became dear friends.

When I worked as a Pastry Chef I would show up around nine to prep cakes and pies making sure to be out of the kitchen before the line cooks came to prep for dinner. Once they came the kitchen was one big traffic jam and it was harder to work.

Pros and Cons

There are several pros and cons to life as a baker. Holidays are the busiest times so don’t expect to take a week off at Christmas in fact depending on where you work they could be your longest days. I worked 13 hour days around Christmas time at one cake bakery I worked at.

It’s also not the most lucrative position. If you’re in it for the money baking isn’t for you. It’s certainly possible but not the rule.

Of course, it’s very fulfilling if you love to do it. You get to see a tangible, tasty, and oftentimes beautiful result of all your hard work. It’s something you’ve put together that brings others joy and that is very gratifying. You get to be an artist in the kitchen and for the creative types who adore baking, there’s no better feeling.

These are some of the things I remember about my years of baking!

Carolyn Truett currently runs a gluten-free food blog, Caramel & Cashews.


Pros

Enhance your creative development

Working as a Pastry Chef allows you to express your creative side. You can work on your artistic talents and use creativity to create new desserts and sweets, which can be an extremely rewarding experience.

Ability to work almost anywhere in the world

Pastry Chefs are in demand at high-end restaurants and independent bakeries around the world. As a Pastry Chef, you have the chance to launch your career anywhere that you want, including overseas.

Cons

Long hours

Working as a Pastry Chef involves long hours. They often start their day incredibly early to prepare bread and pastries, as some recipes require the ingredients to sit and rise for several hours.

Modest pay

Compared to other professions, Pastry Chefs receive modest pay. While the median pay for a Pastry Chef is $54,300, Pastry Chefs that are just entering the field may make significantly less.

Where they work

Restaurants
Cafes and Bakeries
Hotels, Resorts, and Casinos
Supermarkets and Department Stores


Pastry Chefs often work in a variety of settings. However, the primary employers for Pastry Chefs include restaurants, bakeries, and wholesale baked goods suppliers.

You may also find employment at locations in the service industry. Hotels, resorts, and casinos may hire Pastry Chefs to improve the quality of their service to guests.

Supermarkets, department stores, and specialized food stores may also hire Pastry Chefs. At these locations, the Pastry Chef may not need to worry about pairing desserts with food items. They tend to focus on creating fresh pastries and desserts for shoppers.

How to become one

Option 1: Go to Culinary School

Aspiring Pastry Chefs typically gain the skills and knowledge necessary for the job through training at a Culinary School or a University or College that offers programs in the Culinary Arts.

Many bakeries and restaurants look for Pastry Chefs with advanced education. Certificate programs are often available through Culinary Schools and Community Colleges. However, earning a Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) in Culinary Arts can increase your career prospects and potential pay.

Option 2: Join a Pastry Chef Apprenticeship Program

An alternative route is to join an apprenticeship program. You typically only need a High School Diploma or a GED to join one of these programs. The apprenticeship programs often last two to three years and offer supervised on-the-job training.

Look for Job Openings for Pastry Chefs

After completing a certificate, degree, or apprenticeship program, start looking for Pastry Chef jobs. Employment for all types of Bakers is expected to increase by 6% between 2018 and 2028.

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Artist

People with this personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.

You can read more about these career personality types here.

Pastry Chefs should be patient, organized, and creative. Baking is slow work, which requires patience. It also involves the use of many ingredients and complex recipes, requiring strong organizational skills. However, creativity is perhaps the most important trait, as Pastry Chefs often need to create new recipes.

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