Do your friends ever tell you that your baked goods are to die for? Is baking is your passion? If you are thinking about baking as a career, then look no further! This post will tell you how to become a pastry chef in just a few easy steps.
Step 1: Basic Pastry Chef Skills
1. Introductory baking knowledge
Do you know how to whisk an egg without spilling it everywhere? Do you know the basic ingredients to baking brownies from scratch? These aren't mandatory skills to know before becoming a pastry chef, but learning by doing is a great way to start pursuing your baking passion.
This may be the most important quality for a pastry chef. Pastry chefs work long hours and need a lot of stamina to stay on their feet all day. Plus, their days can start as early as 3 AM in order to prepare baked goods!
3. Design- and detail- oriented
Being design-oriented and detail-oriented are also essential. Making baked goods and other sweets require creativity, organization, and attention to detail in order to produce the best product.
4. Communication skills
Although it may seem like pastry chefs are always in the kitchen creating sweets, having communication skills is incredibly important! Oftentimes, they work together in teams to create the best sweets with high efficiency.
Step 2: Weigh Your Education Options
Now that you know some of the basic skills to obtain, it’s time to look for education options! Here are some options to consider to get ahead in building your pastry chef career.
Certification is not mandatory, but having one will only help you advance your career. The American Culinary Federation offers four levels of certification for pastry chefs. Browse through their options and choose the best fit for you!
Experience is absolutely key to becoming a great pastry chef. The best way to gain experience is to work as an apprentice in the industry. With an apprenticeship, you will learn many of the topics that would be covered in a degree program, with a more hands-on experience.
Apprenticeships can last anywhere from one to three years and are a perfectly viable alternative to obtaining a degree, especially if you can’t spare the costs of formal education.
3. Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree
Formal education will give you an in-depth look into baking, food safety and science, nutritional biology and chemistry, and design and management.
If you are an undergrad with a degree in another field, apply for an associate’s degree in pastry arts. You will be able to complete your degree in two years and will have time for internships to aid you in kick-starting your career.
If you have no prior college education or if you want to study professional baking further, apply for a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree is necessary if you want to handle management or become an executive pastry chef.
Step 3: Bay Area Pastry Chef Schools
The Bay Area is home to San Francisco, which has the highest number of restaurants per capita in the nation. So you’re in the right place! Check out these local culinary schools to get started on the path to becoming a pastry chef.
1. Spun Sugar (Berkeley)
Located in West Berkeley, Spun Sugar is a candy store that offers classes on everything sweet, from baking cakes to tempering chocolate to creating fondant art. This is a great place to begin learning the basics of baking in a fun (and delicious) environment!
Learn more about attending Spun Sugar classes here.
2. Laney College (Oakland)
Taking your pastry chef dream a bit more seriously? If you already practice baking regularly and want to get certification for it, Laney College in Oakland offers a Culinary Arts certificate program in Baking and Pastry.
The program includes pre-employment courses and workshops to prepare students for commercial employment.
Learn about their Baking and Pastry Program here.
3. San Francisco Cooking School
The San Francisco Cooking School is a culinary and pastry arts school located in the heart of San Francisco. You’ll be able to learn all of the greatest baking techniques while immersed in the culinary center of the city. Sounds like a win-win to me!
Learn more about their professional pastry school here.
4. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts (San Francisco)
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in San Francisco offers Pastry and Baking Associate Degree and Certificate programs for those who want a comprehensive education alongside the industry’s top pastry chefs. This is the place to be in order to achieve your pastry-baking dreams.
If you’ve been hiding in your own kitchen, it’s time to put on your chef hat and apron and work towards making your dream a reality! With the right ingredients of dedication, education, and hard work, you’ll be well on your way towards working as a professional pastry chef.