Pastry chefs are the artists who make those fantastic desserts that look like art and taste like heaven. Don’t confuse them with bakers. They usually work with sweet desserts, and bakers work with dough that is not sweet. This is the difference between the two.
Pastry Chef Outlook
In comparison to high growth in other occupations, statistics only project a 2% increase in the need for pastry chefs in the coming years. There is also much competition in these areas because experience always trumps a fresh face. Even though a degree looks good on a resume, having an artist’s touch with a knack for flavor is what the employer sees as most valuable in this industry.
With competition being what it is, many pastry chefs have to start as line cooks and work their way up in position. This can be a bit daunting because the line cook’s salary doesn’t closely compare to the executive chef or pastry chef. It will take patience and perseverance to move into this higher ranking.
Of course, networking and marketing will help open doors. Getting out there socially, talking to other chefs, and staying abreast of opportunities will help tremendously with information on possible openings in the field.
There seems to be a tight network of people in this industry who support each other and share healthy competitions in shows and other events. However, becoming a head pastry chef in a high-end restaurant could take years to accomplish.
Certifications for Pastry Chef Outlook
There are several certifications that may open leads for the average pastry chef. Certified Pastry Culinarian, Certified Working Pastry Chef, Certified Executive Pastry Chef, or a Certified Master Pastry Chef are certifications offered by the American Culinary Federation.
Pastry Chefs, first and foremost, create, plate, and decorate pastries and desserts, but they also manage and train novice pastry chefs, plan menus, establish budgets, and order supplies, and experiment with new recipes, ingredients, and techniques. Therefore, it might be good for a chef to get a second degree in business or restaurant management, which would help with marketability in the restaurant world.
Possibly one of the most attractive options for the pastry chef’s outlook is owning a private business. Making desserts for special occasions like birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, and showers will always lift spirits and give a sense of accomplishment on a personal level. Autonomy is also appealing to many people with pastry chef personalities who just want to be left alone with their creations.
Being a sole proprietor of one’s own business as a pastry chef does not compare with industrial baking. Broken equipment, unmanageable timelines, and other stress don’t seem to be attractive to some professional pastry chefs. With increase in techniques for standardization of recipes and more efficient methods, there is not a great need for as many chefs in this specialty. Although there will always be a need to replace those retiring and moving out of the field for other reasons, the number of graduates from culinary schools will always be higher than the number of openings available in this profession.
When choosing a culinary arts degree program, it might be wise to find one that offers assistance with job placement at the completion of the program. There is a network available to the schools that may not be available to the person with no experience and no formal training.