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A pastry chef is someone who is schooled and skilled in the making of pastries, desserts, bread and other baked goods. Some pastry items may include cakes, cookies, cupcakes, pies, tortes and ice cream. Pastry chefs are employed in large hotels, bistros, restaurants, bakeries, and some cafés.
Pastry chefs work with a team of bakers and cooks to prepare, bake and decorate their food, and must keep their team organized, stocked and motivated. Pastry chefs work with a restaurant’s head chef to pair breads and desserts, order supplies, and hire staff. They also create recipes or follow existing ones, using a creative flair to their craft, but all the time maintaining records, ordering food, and enforcing food safety standards.
Day-to-day operations can also require the pastry chef to research recipe concepts and develop and test new recipes. Usually the pastry chef does all the necessary preparation of the various desserts in advance, before dinner seating begins. The actual plating of the desserts is often done by another station chef, usually the garde manger, at the time of order. The pastry chef is often in charge of the dessert menu, which besides traditional desserts, may include dessert wines, specialty dessert beverages, and gourmet cheese platters. Pastry chefs are also expected to fully understand their ingredients and the chemical reactions that occur when making fine pastries. Precise timing and temperatures are critically important.
1) Food preparation
Often, the pastry chef will consult with the executive chef to create desserts that go well with menu items. The pastry chef often prepares dessert items well before seating for a meal begins, and then plates items as they are requested during the meal. Pastry chefs can also be responsible for dessert wines, cocktails, and other dessert beverages.
2) Testing of new recipes
Pastry Chefs are responsible for testing new recipes to see if they can be incorporated into the menu. You may also get asked to adjust or create your own desserts, this is where your knowledge and taste buds come in to see what works best and will require creativity.
3) Menu preparation and guidelines
Follow the guidelines given by the Sous Chef and Head Chef when it comes to food preparation and presentation. Work with colleagues and seniors to produce menus. Often, pastry chefs are also responsible for providing baked goods such as fresh loaves of bread in addition to desserts and pastries.
4) Ordering food and supplies for dessert menu items.
The pastry chef will be responsible for submitting orders for any food or supply items necessary for running the kitchen. Also, the Pastry Chef is responsible for determining what items need to be purchased for the kitchen and submitting a budget for those items.
Like most chefs, a Pastry Chef is no different and the hours can be 40-60 hours per week, normally carried out over split service shifts covering breakfast/lunch and dinner service.
What can you expect to earn being a Pastry Chef? The position of Pastry Chef has a great deal of responsibilities and as a key part of the team you will spend most of your time cooking and preparing food in the kitchen.
Pastry Chef salaries will vary depending on experience in the kitchen, but will typically be in the region of £18,000 to £27,000 per year depending on experience. As of July 2017, the average salary for a Pastry Chef in the UK is £21,612 (Source: PayScale). If you have graduated or have a culinary degree and high skill set with lots of experience you will be in high demand and hit the higher end of the salary bracket. It also depends largely on the type of restaurant you are working for and the available budget they have.