Pastry chef? A STEM career?
Actually, yes. Baking requires chemistry knowledge. Did you know that baking ingredients interact with each other to create baked products? Yeast, baking powder, and baking soda make baked goods light and fluffy. Adding whipped egg whites does the same thing.
Other ingredients, like fruit, chocolate, or butter, can weigh baked goods down or dry them out. How hot the oven is can also make a difference in how a baked good turns out. Just as a chemist must understand the properties of materials in a lab, pastry chefs and bakers must understand how food ingredients work together.
- Pastry chefs work in many locations—specialty bakeries, grocery stores, hospitals, and restaurants.
- Pastry chefs might not have any education; instead, they might gain experience on the job, usually starting in a small bakery or grocery store. Many start as a line cook or a sous chef, taking care of only one part of a meal prepared in a restaurant.
- But many pastry chefs go to culinary school to learn their trade and art. Culinary school is highly competitive. Graduates are eligible for high paying jobs.
- Some pastry chefs focus on one type of baking, such as wedding cakes or chocolate work. Others make a variety of desserts.
- Highly qualified pastry chefs can get executive chef positions at spas, hotels, or with important people. Imagine being the pastry chef at the White House!
- Pastry chefs must be creative, organized, and hard working. They need good fine motor skills for all the chopping and prep work they do.
- Wages are low. Most pastry chefs earn between $27,000 and $48,000 per year. Some might earn as much as $75,000 or more.
- Hours are long. In bakeries, pastry chefs start their day at 3 or 4 in the morning to prepare breads, muffins, and pastries for breakfast. In restaurants, pastry chefs often work past midnight. They spend long hours on their feet working with their hands.
Questions and Answers
Question: What can I do now to become a pastry chef?
Answer: Spend time baking and experimenting in the kitchen. Find out what flavors go well together. Learn about how to make bread, pie crust, and other baked goods.
Watch a short video about becoming a pastry chef.