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Pros & Cons of a Pastry Chef

by Neil Kokemuller

A pastry chef works in a bakery or restaurant and prepares artfully crafted baked goods. Pastry chefs typically need an associate degree in culinary arts or baked goods and pastry arts. The role of a chef can vary by work setting and some chefs own their own bakeries. However, there are some attributes of the job are generally consistent for anyone who enters this career.

Creative Development

One of the primary appeals of being a pastry chef is the opportunity to develop new dessert recipes. Your creativity influences both the look and taste of the new concoction. Many chefs also appreciate the fact that they get to regularly test or sample their pastries on a daily basis. In nice restaurants or high-end bakeries, there is generally an ample budget to use top ingredients when making desserts.

Flexibility and Adventure

Options for pastry chefs have grown over time. Historically, pastry chefs mostly worked in restaurants, but specialty bakeries have become prominent as of 2013. This evolution means more potential employment settings. Additionally, pastry chefs that want to go at it alone have greater potential for entrepreneurial success. During school or early in your career, there may also be opportunities to study abroad or do internships through your own initiative.

Modest Pay

Pay for all bakers is limited. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated an average annual salary of $25,060, as of May 2012. While top-end pay is a bit better, income isn't much better for those that specialize in pastries. One of the reasons pay is restricted for bakery professions is the supply of job candidates is high relative to job growth. The BLS indicates little or no change in job opportunities for bakers from 2010 to 2020. A specialty degree in pastries can improve your employment options.

Demands

You need a sincere passion for baking and running a team to appreciate the demands that come along with a pastry chef job. Like other bakers, pastry chefs often work under time pressure to prepare pastries in a restaurant or for high demand in a bakery. Chefs also normally lead a baking team. Trying to direct staff while involved in hands-on baking can get stressful. In restaurants, bakers also collaborate with other chefs and kitchen staff for meal preparation. Long hours are common as well.

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