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Pastry chef career...?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I love eating. I love trying new foods especially when it comes to desserts. I don't know if I love baking as much as I love eating though...so I'm unsure if I should go into pastry making. I'm unsure because I've never tried baking 8hrs straight with no breaks and I've only baked a handful of times in my life. I've baked 3 bundt cakes (which were all a big success in my family), some cookies(which ended up turning into muffin tops....), and cinnamon bun rolls(success but definitely has room for improvement). It seems that most successful pastry chefs have been baking since young. I'm 21 and don't have much fundamentals in baking....am I hopeless? Are there any pastry chefs that started baking late in life?

 

 

post #2 of 10

Do you like getting up super early in the morning? Like when it's still dark outside?

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

I used to have to wake up 5:30am for something I dreadfully hated. I know pastry chefs have to wake up earlier (I've read that most have to be in the kitchen by 4am) but if I could wake up early for something I didn't like, I have confidence in waking up for something that I'll actually enjoy. Standing for 8hrs straight would be more of a worry for me as the longest I've stood on my feet was a mere 3hrs. But I would assume that if you really love it, standing wouldn't be an issue? Is it common for pastry chefs to develop leg/feet/back problems? 

post #4 of 10

You could develop back problems standing long periods of times, and also lifting heavy items, which I'm sure you'll be doing a lot of in the pastry business. I'm a chef/ caterer, and a couple years ago I lifted a heavy container of marinara sauce, and my back has been ruined ever since, and because of that standing long periods of time affect my back as well, although it wasn't the primary culprit. when I come home after a longs day work, my back is singing to me. I wake up in pain almost every morning. I'm in great physical shape, I jog a few times a week as well as practice yoga and my back still got screwed up. I would imagine it would be a lot worse if I were overweight or in poor health to begin with.

I won't get started on my feet..

 

I'm not trying to discourage you, but it's something to consider if it concerns you because it can be debilitating.

 

I also think you might want to try baking a lot more items to see if you really love it. Baking a few items for family and friends is far from working as a pastry chef. Family and friends patronize and appreciate your hard work. It's not really like that in the business. You have to really love it even if you're not being appreciated.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

what baked goods would you suggest I start baking and is there anything else (in addition to baking more) that I can do to understand if I really love it? I really appreciate the information you have taken the time to share, thank you : )

post #6 of 10

I'll leave this question to the baking pros. They'll be better able to guide you in the right direction. Good luck! smile.gif

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

Reply
“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #7 of 10

Well since you really enjoy consuming the pastries, why not start with what you personally enjoy? Try the same type of pastries from other bakeries and compare. I worked as a line cook, so my baking experience was limited, and I remember I always absolutly loved chef's scones during the tea service, so I kept trying to make scones at home until I got them to what I would consider perfect, nice sugar crust, not tough, and shaped nicely rather then using the 'drop' method. Just make something you like over and over until you get it right, you'll learn a little something every time.

 

And I would not say that 21 is too old to start a career in pastry. What does make me wonder, though, is when you say your not sure if you like baking more then eating the pastries. For me personally, its the opposite, I get much more satisfaction out of making an item that turns out well, that I enjoy, and that other people enjoy. I dont get that same satisfaction out of just purchasing a pastry, no matter how wonderful it is, I'm always interested in the process of how an item is made. Why not just go get a job in a bakery? You dont need to be a pastry chef to get it, and you really will either fall in love with it and desire to learn more, or realize that its not what you want to do.

 

Additionally, as for learning, get a kitchen scale, and pick up a book like 'On Baking' or 'Professional Baking.'

post #8 of 10

I knew someone who was a pastry chef at one of the nicer hotel restaurants in SF.  She had gotten into the position by working up from the bottom and after 25 years still loved it.  I'm assuming if you did want to give it a try, in terms of employment pick  place where if you don't like the actual act of baking maybe you could move over into other areas such as management...I'm assuming there might still be a good amount of "sampling" of the food.

post #9 of 10

It's never too late to start, but you need a little more time to decide.  I think you might want to apply for a part time position (if you are already employed elsewhere full time) in a bakery and see what happens.  You wouldn't be hired as a baker or assistant but as a cashier or dishwasher and you can see what goes on so you can make an informed choice.

 

I love what I do: making delicious things for people to enjoy - and I can't ever imagine not doing it.  I was always interested in pastry/dessert and did a lot on my own before making the career switch from high tech to food service.  I took specialty classes to fill in the gaps where I was weak (e.g., tart dough, entremets, petit fours) but had the very good fortune to spend time learning the tricks of the trade at my friend's bakery before she closed/retired. 

 

So to find out what it's like behind the scenes, get a job where you can see what happens and see if you really love pastry. You might have a bakery in your area that specializes in bread, or pastries, or cake/cupcakes; see if they need some help.

post #10 of 10
Pastry is what I really love. My sister has a small bakery that I work in sometimes to help out. The campus I go to doesn't have a pastry program but their sister campus in the city over does and I am considering it on top of regular culinary. Basically, my hesitation with it is finding a job. I don't want to have all of this schooling and then struggle to find employment. It does seem that pastry jobs are scarce unless you start your own little business.
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