or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Pastry Chefs › Restaurant pastry chef duties
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Restaurant pastry chef duties

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I am a pastry chef in a privately owned "upscale casual" restaurant. We've been open for 6 months now, and for the most part, things are going great. My major issue that seems to keep cropping up revolves around my boss, the Executive Chef and Owner. For the most part, we get along great, and tend to operate on similar wavelengths when it comes to food. My problem is, sometimes, he just doesn't get exactly how different pastry is from the culinary side. Sometimes this rears it's head when he expects my downtime to coincide with his, or he doesn't realize how much notice I need to complete certain items (ex: I can't just 'whip up' a batch of bread in a half hour!). My biggest point of contention is his insistence that I personally be there to plate desserts 3 nights a week. Personally, I feel that if I am the only person in the restaurant that knows how to properly plate the desserts I've made, then I've failed as a pastry chef. Aside from the obvious, 'How hard can it be to put a piece of cake on a plate?', I try very hard to make each item as efficient and accessable as possible so that there is little demand on the persons responsible for plating.

I'm sure most of you know how unpredictable the pace can be in a restaurant--even if we're really busy, I could go hours between dessert orders, which means that I have a lot of time on my hands on the nights I'm there. I try my best to fill it responsibly by getting extra prep or cleaning done, but obviously the demands of the customers come first, and most of the time that prohibits my getting too involved in preparing items that need constant attention or careful monitoring. I end up feeling like I've wasted most of my time by the end of the night, even if I've managed to get administrative work done, clean or reorganize my station or common storage areas, etc.

It seems so counter productive to require me to spend my time waiting for orders when I could be working different hours and making more food--a lot of times, I have a hard time keeping up with demand for breads, and our backup stock gets depleted far too often, and we often have catered events that require specialized items.

My question is, is this a normal part of the duties of Pastry Chef in a restaurant? For some reason, every time I do it, I feel as though I'm doing someone else's job. In my opinion, I'm really only doing it because they need an extra person there those nights, and I'm helping out & paying dues. My Chef doesn't seem to agree. He approaches it from the point of view that naturally I'm the only person who could be responsible for that duty, and no one else is qualified to touch my things. I've been very open to doing extra things around the kitchen when they need it because I really want to see this place succeed, and I believe I am a responsible and dependable employee. I'm beginning to wonder, though, if his expectations will change when they can finally afford to hire extra people.
post #2 of 11
I used to work as a gardemanger and I worked pretty closely with the pastry chef. The first thing I did when he and I started on the job was to copy down all the formulas he'd be using and ask him to explain the mixing methods to me. For awhile we'd work side by side a little bit each day. Eventually I started covering holes in the production schedual on his days off, or when he was swamped.

I think the solution to some of your problem might be to train some of the other cooks in some of your functions. For expample, the pastry chef above trained the dishwasher to make pita breads and french bread. These were the only doughs he knew how to make and he could make them pretty well. Even though he only mastered that one skill, he was a huge help for the pastry chef.

As for being on hand for plate up's three nights a week, think of it as a form of quality control. I think people prefer it if their desserts are plated up by the THE Pastry Chef instead of some line cook.

I sympathize about the divergence of pastry and savory schedules.
post #3 of 11
I've trained under both kitchens so I can understand you and your chef to a degree. Cooks and bakers are usually on totally different wave lengths, its amazing how some can actually get along let alone work with each other. I agree with Tin on training someone to help you out.

I'm currently not working in the restaraunt business, though I am searching. I do shipping/recieving, portering, meeting setups, archiving, and customer service for Nestle. I started with a small project that only involved using MS Excel, my job title has not expanded greatly to what I stated earlier. Its usually the simple things that boggle you down but other people can help or do for you. Chef is always having someone help finish plates or scrambling around to cut up extra mirepoix. I don't see why you shouldn't do the same.
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks to both of you!

I guess I just have to take that bull by the horns and start delegating more. We've had such staffing troubles lately, I hadn't really seriously considered it. I appreciate your input!
post #5 of 11
Then new hires may be required. Only 1 or 2, not many should be needed. Hook me up :D
post #6 of 11
In a past restaurant that I worked in I did garde manger, appetizers, and a few line items. I also was instructed how to plate all the desserts. The pastry chef worked full time during the day, monday-saturday, prepping all the desserts, making bread, etc. Then myself, or one of 2 other employees would plate desserts for dinner.

Anybody can't be a pastry chef, but pretty much anybody can be trained how to plate the desserts.

While your Executive chef's desire to have you, the most experienced person, available to plate the desserts is on one level respectful of your seniority & knowledge, on the other hand.................

the fact that your level of skill is not necessary for simply plating desserts causes your time to be used inefficiently.

Try to talk to your Executive chef about it but don't push it. He's the owner and the head chef. He has the right to have things his way even if it isn't the best way to do it. That will happen no matter who you work for. Ultimately we decided which quirks we can live with and which we cant.
Salad is the kind of food that real food eats.
Salad is the kind of food that real food eats.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
I spoke with him last night, as a matter of fact. It turns out that I'm pretty much his only reliable employee at the moment, and he really needs me to be everything at once for a while. Very frustrating, but I'm left with little choice. I remind myself that this is excellent training for my future as an owner/operator...
post #8 of 11
Presently I am working as a Pastry Chef for a well established restaurant. I have worked in the Pastry/Baking industry for about five years now.

Depending on the size of the restaurant and the size of the staff-Pastry Chefs are loners-maybe an assistant or two. The responsibilities are very open-which means it increases according to the demand.

Remember that its all about conditioning mind and body.

Keep in mind your passion for this field-everything else will fall into place!
post #9 of 11

Has the situation improved?

Has the situation improved at all or are you still plating 3 nights a week? At one point in time, I was the executive pastry chef for a hotel in Chicago, and my executive chef also wanted me to be on the line plating desserts a couple of nights a week. I solved this by sitting down with him and having a frank discussion with him. I pointed out that he was paying me a lot of money (compared to the line cooks) to stand around waiting for orders...I couldn't do any prep work because the pastry kitchen was actually a separate kitchen on another floor of the hotel. My suggestion to him and to you is to take photographs of exactly what each plated dessert should look like, print an explanation of every item on the plate, where it can be found, etc. and post this on the wall of the pastry station so that anyone working in the kitchen should be able to simply copy the diagram and directions.
post #10 of 11
maybe you should consider working in a different pastry environment or with a larger team somewhere. obviously your expectations and your exec chefs expectations of the job clash. you need to find somewhere to work less hours with less stress. as the pastry chef you are responsible for pastry fullstop but maybe you are not quite ready for this and should take a step back and work on organisational skills.

i have worked the 17 hr a day michelin star restaurant and also done the 5 star hotel work and have always managed to balance commitment to the customer with using my spare time for cleaning/extra m.e.p. it's very easy to spread some tuiles or make some purees for example during your spare time. think of waiting for checks as valuable time for getting ahead with your m.e.p. and at the end of the day you have chosen a profession with long, (sometimes unpaid) unsociable hours. good luck
post #11 of 11


OK, here's what I'm reading.

Have you discussed your exact job description and definition with your EC?

Do you have a set menu or pre-plan? What is the average house count per night? Do you have a dessert cart to wet patrons appetites for desserts? Do you make everything fresh on a daily basis or can you make some things in advance.

How do the desserts sell? Do you think you might need to re-design them?

I guess one of the most important questions is: how do you feel about what you do? I mean, baking/cooking is an artistic passion and I was chastized at Chico's for "working too long". Go figure that an employer would complain about someone wanting to create excellence for them.
I was the baker/pastry chef for Chico's Hot Springs in Pray for almost 6 months. We moved to S. Nevada late last year for various reasons. Seasonal issues mostly.

I maintained inventory, quality, and routinely (read daily) produced the 4 "signature" desserts, mud pies (messy), flambe oranges (A merangue covered chocolate coated orange ice cream desert that was intensely time consuming), almond tarts, and creme brulees, in addition to 2 of my own invention per day, models for the dining room and garnishes, sauces and etc. This was in addition to hand producing between 15 to 35 loaves of bread per day and specialty breakfast specialty desserts for the Sunday buffet. For the majority of my work days I was the only one and I preferred it that way.

Maybe you need sit down with your EC and politely try to explain the laws of physics involving yeast vs sugar vs warm water. What I'm hearing is that your job description is not defined and your EC doesn't really have a clue what is involved with trying to proof a tray of rolls. It just doesn't happen in an hour.

In order for your kitchen to work smoothly he needs to understand that what we do is different from what they do on Iron Chef. I've never seen IRON CHEF PASTRY. Why? Because what we do is a different science and takes longer than just slapping a piece of beef on a grill.

Laws of Physics...don't you love it?

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Professional Pastry Chefs
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Pastry Chefs › Restaurant pastry chef duties