When most people think of pastry chefs, they think of towering wedding cakes, delicious tarts and scrumptious cookies, but few know of the intense amount of skills and work that went into creating any one of those tasty desserts. Wedding cakes, for example, require more than just one layer and must be prepared just so, while one additional minute in the oven can be the difference between perfect cookies and burned cookies.
So what does it take to become a pastry chef. What traits do you need to succeed in the industry? Here are the six traits of a perfect pastry chef. Think you have what it takes?
Like many other forms of cooking, pastry work is somewhat of an art. There’s a lot of room to be creative in baking, and the pastry chefs that exhibit the most creativity with their work usually go very far in their careers.
Creativity in the kitchen usually starts in the preparation stage. Chefs like to go back to simple recipes and see how they can improve it or change it to something new. Plain old chocolate chip cookies don’t need to remain plain. Chefs know to add different kinds of nuts or try out different combinations of chocolate to create a new type of cookie that everyone will want to try.
Of course, the creative side of a chef comes out in full when it’s time to decorate a cake or any other type of dessert. Chefs have all sorts of different foods, icings, sprinkles and other ingredients to properly decorate their cakes and desserts. From fresh strawberries on top of a cake to warm icing drizzled over chocolate chip cookies, the best pastry chef knows how to please customers’ eyes and taste buds.
Every good pastry chef will tell you that baking is slow work. Most desserts and dishes will take about an hour to prep and prepare and another hour or so to bake or refrigerate to finish. As a result, there’s a lot of waiting time in the pastry chef industry, but if you’re impatient and take your dishes out of the oven too quickly, they won’t finish cooking.
That’s why a patient pastry chef is a good pastry chef. Even preparing a dessert can take a long time. Pastry chefs need to carefully measure out each ingredient and add them at just the right time. It’s not as easy as combining everything in a bowl at once and throwing the bowl in the oven. Patience keeps a pastry chef from moving too quickly.
A pastry chef has many tools and even more ingredients. From measuring cups and mixing bowls to powdered sugar to condensed milk, pastry chefs have a lot to keep track of in their kitchens, so it is vital that they remain organised at all times.
Every tool and ingredient needs to have its place in the kitchen. When looking at a new recipe, an organised pastry chef will know exactly where to find all the ingredients in the kitchen and can easily gather up the right tools and ingredients needed to complete the dish.
In order to be so efficient, a chef’s kitchen must be kept spotless. After they’re done working, pastry chefs need to clean up their messes and put everything back in its rightful place. If a chef’s kitchen is unclean, they risk contaminating their dishes, something that can get them in big trouble with clients. Therefore, all pastry chefs need to remain both organised, neat and clean to ensure their best success in the industry.
On any given day, a pastry chef can be in the kitchen from 3 am until the afternoon. Most pastry chefs working in bakeries start work this early to prepare for the morning commuters who might stop in for breakfast, and they usually keep working until late morning or even afternoons.
Most of these hours are spent running around the kitchen, so pastry chefs need to be hard working and ready to be on their feet for long hours at a time. It also takes a lot of hard work to multitask, as few pastry chefs will ever get to work on just one dish at a time. They might be baking a loaf of bread while frosting cupcakes.
Though you can always follow a recipe, the best pastry chefs take risks with their cooking. They know how to adjust the recipe so that they get the desired outcome. If they want their chocolate chip cookies to be plumper, they know to add more flour.
Pastry chefs also aren’t afraid to try something new with their cooking. If they’re confronted with a new, difficult recipe, they face it head on. Even if they mess up on the first few tries, the best pastry chefs don’t give up. They keep on working through the recipe to get it just right.
Risk taking chefs also know how to take risks with the dishes they’ve previously mastered. If they have an idea for a new type of cookie, for example, then chefs will keep tweaking their recipe to see how they can change it to create something new and exciting. Even if this takes a few tries, pastry chefs keep working to perfect their craft.
Every good pastry chef knows that the road to success in the kitchen starts with a great education. With a Certificate III in Patisserie from the Kangan Institute, you’ll learn the skills needed to excel in this culinary career. You’ll learn how to be more organised and where you can exercise a little more creativity with your work.
Upon completion of the course, you’ll be ready to enter the hospitality industry and work as a pastry chef in a bakery or pastry shop. You may even decide to go for a higher level of study, such as a Certificate IV in Patisserie.
Working as a pastry chef can be demanding, but if you have the foundational skills needed to succeed, then you’ll find that the long hours don’t seem so long and the work needed to complete your certificate was definitely worth it.
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