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A pastry chef specializes in creating breads, desserts and savory meals. The chef may work in a bakery, restaurant, or even for a catering company. However, just because you have a sweet tooth doesn’t mean a career as a pastry chef is the right choice. A good pastry chef typically possesses several important personal qualities.
Pastry chefs must pay close attention to details. Often, intricate scrolling on wedding cakes and elaborate dessert platings require precision. As a pastry chef, you must be able to notice and correct any flaws before the item goes to the customer.
Preparing a multitiered wedding cake, or preparing a soufflé in the middle of a dinner rush, requires patience on the part of the pastry chef. Becoming overly angry or frustrated may cause you to rush the process and compromise the integrity of the food. It is important for a pastry chef to remain calm and confident in any situation.
Basil and herbs in desserts. Chili peppers and chocolate. The food industry is constantly evolving, and pastry chefs create new flavor combinations all the time. A pastry chef must have an innate sense of creativity to discover new and exciting dishes that will not only please a customer's palate but will help the chef earn recognition and respect in the culinary industry.
Pastry chefs spend an average of three years apprenticing in the field before earning their own kitchen or starting their own pastry business. This could include washing dishes, prepping food for hours in the early morning, or cleaning up the kitchen late at night. Additionally, most pastry chefs attend culinary school, which is typically a two-year or four-year program. To work your way up in the pastry field, you must be dedicated to your craft and willing to do the labor to learn the profession.
Baking cupcakes, making caramel on the stove, and cutting delicious fruits are all activities that a pastry chef may need to do simultaneously. Being able to think quickly and multitask is an important quality to keep you from falling behind on the timing of the food and on the daily workload of the job.
Not every customer is going to be satisfied all of the time. A pastry chef needs to have a thick skin in order to handle criticism, especially if you feel like it is unjust. Not only will customers critique your work, but so will your peers. As an apprentice, superior chefs will also be judging your food, which you will need to accept graciously. Being able to handle, overcome, and alter your recipes based on negative feedback will only help you to improve your craft.
Based in Memphis, Tenn., Elizabeth Link has been a professional writer since 2008. Her work has appeared locally and regionally in publications such as "Emerald Coast Bride Magazine," "DeSoto Magazine" and "Romantic Destinations Magazine." Link holds a Master of Arts in journalism from the University of Memphis.