Working with pastries, desserts, bread and other baked goods is a dream for many food lovers. With the food and drink industry having remained one of the best performers in the current time of economic recession, production levels are actually 10% higher than the average rate of manufacturing. With so many people searching for a career they would relish, this makes now as good a time as any to take the plunge to try and get your break as a pastry chef. Stepping into a new industry is a big decision however and there are a number of considerations you should make beforehand to ensure it is the right path for you.
Do you have the right personality?
Working in a professional kitchen is a stressful and difficult job that is not suited to everyone. Pastry chefs in particular will require additional qualities over and above what is expected of some of their co-workers in different sections. Pastry chefs must be:
- Creative: A large part of the attraction of desserts and pastries is their appearance. You must be able to create not only delicious flavour combinations but assemble them in ways that are visually stunning; capable of enticing the consumers into eating them.
- Committed: Pastry chefs will work long hours as the baking process can begin as early as 3am; to prepare fresh breads each day for example. Almost all of the working day will be spent on your feet, so stamina and a positive work ethic are a must.
- Patient: The intricacy required to dish up show-stopping desserts is a delicate and often laborious task that must be repeated time and time again to ensure consistency. The same level of attention and care must be given throughout the entire service time.
Do I have the right knowledge?
Baking is an exact science with no room for guess work. Working with perishable goods like dairy produce means a solid understanding of the chemical and biological reactions of ingredients is imperative, with the ability to correctly measure and combine individual parts a crucial aspect of the job. A food science certificate/diploma would come in very handy, while undertaking training at a cookery or pastry school would equip you with all the vital skills you will need.
Pastry chefs do not just bake bread and handle the desserts and pastries as many would expect however. They are also often responsible for training junior chefs and supervising the cleanliness and correct running of the kitchen, while co-operating with their fellow chefs to devise the menu; this means people skills and an appreciation of all types of food are a must.
How do you get a relevant job?
Once you have attained the appropriate education and training, getting a job in a bakery or restaurant and working your way up the ranks is generally the best route. This allows you to specialise in the pastry section and learn as you work, constantly developing your skills. The more experience you obtain, the more employable you become for the future, when specialist food recruitment agencies can put you in direct contact with prospective employers.
About the Author
This post was written by Focus Management Consultants. Since 1990, they have been helping people find their ideal food jobs by establishing a vast and reliable network of contacts within the industry.