Essential Skills for a Pastry Chef

Posted in Career Blog

A pastry chef does more on a day-to-day basis than simply stir together some flour, sugar and eggs. These individuals must possess a specific set of skills in order to be successful in their careers and produce the tasty treats that people all over the world have come to love.

Physical Prowess
Pastry chefs often work long hours in the kitchen; many begin their duties in the pre-dawn hours and do not finish up until well into the evening. During this time, these individuals can be found standing on their feet in hot kitchens, sometimes lifting giant balls of dough from mixers and manipulating heavy, unwieldy machinery. They are often responsible for restocking the bakery, and this means lifting heavy bags, such as 50-pound bags of flour and sugar. A pastry chef must have much more than simply culinary ability in order to succeed—they also need physical strength and tolerance.

Social Skills
There are a few reasons why a pastry chef needs to have well-groomed social skills in order to be successful. First, this individual may be responsible for working with others—or even supervising others in the bakery. Second, the chef may be responsible for taking orders via telephone or email and contacting customers when these orders are completed. Finally, pastry chefs may actually work in a setting where they not only prepare the delectable treats, but they also present and serve them to the public. All of these things require communication, courtesy, and friendliness.

Administrative Skills

Although many people believe that a pastry chef shows up for work in the morning, bakes treats all day and then returns home, this is not the case. During the time that the chef is on duty, he or she must make careful observations about the supply of certain ingredients, particularly when running his or her own business. They must understand how to order enough ingredients to meet the shop’s demand without going over the budget. When working with the public, they will need organized systems for managing orders, invoices and financial transactions. Finally, if the chef works in a commercial setting, he or she will need to understand the regulations set forth by the health department and adhere to them.

Culinary Skills
The culinary skills that a pastry chef must possess go far beyond the simple ability to create recipes that excite the taste buds. These individuals need a scientific understanding of how the various ingredients—sugars, starches, yeasts and binders—work together in order to form different types of pastries. They must also be able to adhere to the standards set forth by the public, including how to replace sugars with artificial sweeteners as well as the creation of gluten-free products. Lastly, pastry chefs must be able to use all of this knowledge to create foods that are not only delicious, but pleasing to the eye, as well.

A pastry chef who possesses all of the above skills can be an invaluable resource in any restaurant or commercial bakery. Though the hours can be long and the work environment hot, these skills will ensure that the chef enjoys a successful and fruitful career.

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