Baking and Pastry Arts

Cakes. Pies. Cookies. Croissants. Rolls. Thanks to the bakers and the pastry chefs, these items are a popular, comforting and sweet part of our lives.

As a baker or pastry chef, you will be responsible for the creation and production of confections, desserts and pastries, as well as artisan breads, sweet breads and more.

Your hours will be all over the place. If your job is to supply croissants, beignets, danishes and such, you probably start work in the wee hours of the morning, measuring, mixing, kneading and baking. If you do souffles or fondues, it’s likely you’re working alongside the rest of the lunch and dinner crew. If you do special events you’re working in intense bursts leading up to the wedding, or awards banquet.

Your workplace will vary. In a traditional restaurant kitchen, you and your team have your own space, apart from the stations that create the rest of the meal. You might also work in a cafe’, bistro, bakery, or other specialty sweets shops. You might be at the service counter at the grocery shop, or plying your trade at a resort or cruise ship.

You might find yourself in a cafeteria feeding the multitudes or at a test kitchen, researching recipes. You might be part of a catering company, providing food for special events, or at a demonstration kitchen giving a class. You could be baking in bulk to send your items as gourmet special-order products, or you could have private clients, according to your specialty.

You may specialize. Perhaps cupcakes are the shop’s signature, and only item. Or maybe pies will be your thing. You could be cooking special items for those with certain allergies or dietary restrictions. You could be a chocolatier.

The pace of your work could be fast, if you work in a popular restaurant where both time and artistry are of the essence. Or it may be somewhat steady and predictable, if your job is to bake your goods before the morning rush.

You may work solo, or you might have a crew to supervise. You could be responsible for keeping a steady supply of ingredients, or deciding what goes on the menu. You’ll have to plan ahead, or in some cases, improvise.

You will be spending a lot of your time on your feet. Your work environment, though busy and full of various ingredients, will have to be clean and organized. The work is physically demanding, with a lot of bending, lifting and repetitive motion involved, as well as a lot of fine motor skills for the more delicate recipes. You will need to be alert to possible kitchen emergencies and attentive to the quality of the thinks you make.

You will probably come home at the end of your day exhausted and ready to put your feet up. But you’ll probably also think of the people who came in asking for that particular cake, or their favorite croissant, or that chocolate covered confection they’ve been thinking about all day and the smile they give you when they get it, and feel satisfied.