Pastry Chef / Baking Arts - Education & Career Guide | How to Become One

Pastry Chef Quick Links

  1. Pastry Chef Job Description
  2. Pastry Chef Job Careers
  3. Pastry Chef Job Requirements
  4. Pastry Chef Job Education
  5. Pastry Chef Job Salary
  6. Pastry Chef Job Videos
  7. Famous Pastry Chefs
  8. Baking & Pastry Chef Schools

A Baker's Fresh Bread Display

A Baker's Fresh Bread Display


By: Jen Jones

Pastry Chef Job Description

"I love what I do. Who says art can't be delicious?" says pastry chef Joan D'Gulz. "What I do is a little bit art, a little bit baking, a lot of fun, and a lot of work." Joan is most well-known from her New Orleans Bakery Decadencia.

On paper, a Pastry Chef specializes in sweet baked goods and desserts including wedding cakes, creme brulee, croissants, and everything in between. A pastry chef may work in a bakery, sweet shop, or fine restaurant. Some pastry chefs are responsible for the entire dessert concept and may recommend dessert wines to accompany their creations.

Pastry Chef Careers

Experienced pastry chefs are in high demand for several careers, the most popular include:

  • Fine Baker - Wedding cakes, sculpted desserts, and sweet baked creations are just some of what you'll create in this lucrative career.
  • Dessert Specialist - Dessert from beginning to end includes perfecting the classics as well as innovating new flavors and displays. In finer restaurants, a knowledge of sweet, dessert wines is helpful for pairings with appropriate dishes.
  • Chocolatier - Chocolate is an art form all to itself. A chocolatier has gone through additional training to understand the delicate complexities of one of the oldest desserts. A chocolatier may own a specialty chocolate shop or create dark decadent desserts for a fine restaurant.
  • Restaurant Management - "Where there's work to be done, there's work to be done making sure the work gets done." - George LaCroix. Having an inside knowledge of how desserts are created will give you an edge if you're interested in running the business side of any business, whether it's catering or cake-baking.

Pastry Chef Requirements

While there are no certifications or specific training required to be a pastry chef, successful chefs have attended schools with culinary arts programs. At school, these chefs were trained in Baking, Pastry Arts, Chocolatiering, Candy-Making, and Restaurant Management to prepare them for them for their careers.

Pastry Chef Education

There are several levels of education a potential chef may embark upon.

  • Pastry Arts Certificate programs are often targeted, entry-level training and can be completed in less than a year.
  • An Associate's in Pastry Arts will have additional coursework focusing on the business and the logistical side of running a kitchen. These typically take two years to complete.
  • Pursuing a Bachelor's in Pastry arts will most likely land you in a four year college in the liberal arts school. There will be coursework on math, science, and English along with business management and of course culinary classes. These degrees typically take 4-5 years of study to obtain.
  • Rarely, a Master's in Pastry Arts is awarded to a deserving culinary student. These graduated students have already earned a Bachelor's degree and decided to get additional training on the delicate specificities of the pastry arts. In these courses, one will learn much more of the why's than the more practical how-to's.

Pastry Chef Salary

A beginning Pastry Chef that has recently graduated can expect to make around $32,000 a year. As more experienced is gained, a salary of $60,000 is not uncommon among skilled chefs. In larger establishments, the pastry chef often supervises a separate team in their own kitchen or separate shop. Yearly income will be even higher if the pastry chef takes on additional responsibilities such as a management or logistics role in the operation.

Pastry Chef Videos

Famous Pastry Chefs

  • Warren Brown - Front man of Sugar Rush on the Food Network, president of Cake Love, a bake shop in Washington D.C.
  • Keegan Gerhard - Award-winning Pastry Chef, Emcee of Food Network Challenge
  • Duff Goldman - One of the stars of Ace of Cakes, and the Proprietor of the Specialty Cake Shop - Charm City Cakes
  • Jacques Torres - Hosts Chocolate with Jacques Torres, Passion for Dessert with Jacques Torres on the Food Network
  • Buddy Valastro - Renowned baker and lead man in TLC's Cake Boss
  • Joan D'Gulz - Proprietor of Decadensia in New Orleans

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