How to Become a Pastry Chef

Curious how to become a pastry chef? If you have a knack for sweets and breads, you can easily embark on a new career. However, you will need to choose your path. Different chefs follow different paths, and one path isn't necessarily better than another.

Get A Taste Before Ordering The Whole Pie
Before you even consider getting a job in a professional kitchen or enrolling in culinary school, you need to weigh out your options and make sure that being a pastry chef is right for you. Because of all the cooking shows that have found their way into prime-time television, chefs have been glorified in a way that may be misleading to many people. Being a chef is hard work. It is not ritzy. The hours are long and usually late, and the environment is fast-paced and unrelenting. Certain people thrive under such conditions, but others find it intolerable. If you've never worked in the food service industry you should get a job at any level, whether it's as a hostess, bus boy, server or prep cook, before committing to becoming a pastry chef.

Pastry Programs Or An Apprenticeship?
If you have put in the thought that the decision deserves and you still think becoming a pastry chef is for you, you have two main options. You can enroll in a pastry program at a culinary school, or you can get a job as an apprentice in a kitchen.

Choosing chef schools is no easy task. They vary widely in price and prestige, and there are many different programs. There are amateur programs that teach you the basics. These usually consist of only a few classes, and though you won't leave with a degree, you will have gained valuable knowledge that could help you get your foot in the door in a pastry kitchen. Other professional programs range from months to years and usually include externships with real-world kitchen experience. Obviously, the more schooling you receive, the more desirable of a candidate you are in a professional kitchen, but you have to take your timetable and financial needs into consideration. For many jobs, the longer programs may not be necessary, and you don't want to go into debt only to discover you don't like the job.

Many pastry chefs forego the schooling route altogether and go straight into the kitchen. If you can get hired without any degree, this method may save you some time and money. As apprentices in professional kitchens, the monetary compensation will be minimal, but you will learn the skills you need to work your way up and eventually become the person who calls the shots.

The food service industry is growing, and pastry chefs are particularly employable. If you can handle the lifestyle, the job can be incredibly rewarding and is a great creative outlet.

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