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You remember biting into that delicious pastry as a kid. The apple and cinnamon combination -- sprinkled with just the perfect amount of nutmeg -- that you found in the bakery around the corner was one of your favorite holiday treats, so much so that you’ve decided to become a pastry chef. If you are considering a career in this profession, be aware that it is not all about baking. As a pastry chef you will need several basic as well as career specific skills to be successful.
Attention To Detail
A teaspoon of an ingredient isn’t very much. Results may not be very good if you mistake a teaspoon a baking powder for a tablespoon of baking powder. For a pastry chef, attention to detail is a necessity. However routine, you need to pay attention to your ingredients and the amounts used. Without attention to detail, even the simplest errors can occur, such as mistaking salt for sugar. Imagine the taste of that chocolate apple glazed turnover.
To be successful at anything, you should at least encompass the fundamental skills needed for that task. For a pastry chef, culinary skills are basic. Pastry chefs not only need to know how to bake, which is something that requires a tremendous amount of detail, pastry chefs also need to know what ingredients taste good together. You wouldn’t mix cinnamon and garlic powder and expect to create a great-tasting double fudge chocolate cake — or would you? A pastry chef should have a good palate. Pastry chefs should also have the creative ability to assemble a dessert so that it looks as great as it tastes.
As a pastry chef, you may work in a bakery, a restaurant kitchen, or start a home business. In any case, customer service is a necessary skill. In a bakery or restaurant setting, pastry chefs deal with wholesale companies for ingredients. As an at-home business owner, you may receive your supplies from a local store. It helps to have good relationships with those that can keep you in the loop as to sales on ingredients or maybe just to offer an occasional customer appreciation discount. Then there are the customers. Even with delicious-tasting pastries, great customer service is also a factor in repeat business.
A pastry chef must be on his feet several hours a day. You work with your hands for hours at a time, kneading and mixing. This labor can become quite tiresome. At times, you may have to lift heavy boxes of ingredients to store within your shop. You may also find yourself having to get up early in the mornings to prepare pastries for a shop that opens at 7 a.m. Mental stamina is also a requirement for the constant mixing and baking and other repetitive tasks.