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Overrated topic, but: Can you survive on a pastry chef's salary?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hi all!

 

First of all, I know you're all tired about this topic. I am, too. I've read every single thing I found, but I still couldn't find an answer! That's why I'm here.

 

Let's begin by saying this: I am on my last semester of business management college, and am working as a senior auditor in one of the big fours (four largest audit companies in the world). I don't hate my job, but I don't love it. It does bring me benefits, though: I have a secure future. I make good money considering my age. Sometime I work long hours, but most of my weekends are free. I can't really complain.

 

I am, however, willing to walk away from all that in order to go to pasty school. I've made all the math and, with a little help from my parents, I'm able to afford everything (school fees, housing etc) without taking any loans.

 

I just have to ask one thing: How to survive on a pastry chef salary?! I've read many places that the average salary is of $45K - $50K a year. Is it really true?! That's almost the same as a basic auditor salary!! I mean, I've researched tons of websites and most salary are around $25K a year. Can I survive with that? I don't want to depend on my parents and I'm definitely not counting on a husband to support me.

 

Help me! I've made some basic math. I'm not from France or anywhere near Europe, but I've calculated this (monthly expenses, based on internet data):

$ 500 of housing

$ 200 of food

$ 100 of electricity bills, water, internet etc etc

$ 200 other expenses (I don't know... Going out? Emergency expenses?)

Total of $1000/month.

 

Am I missing something? I must be! I mean, because with a $25K salary a year, considering taxes etc, I'm pretty sure this is doable, and on the long run I'm hoping the salary will increase?

 

I know pastry job is a tough job, but honestly, I'd rather work long hours on something I love than long hours on something I find merely tolerable.

 

Thanks a lot for your time and patience!

Tangerine.

post #2 of 12
I'm not clear on this, but are you planning on going to school in france? Your cost of living numbers seem super low. I don't get the 25/45 thing either.
Here's what you do need to know:
When you get of school you will not be a pastry chef! You will need experience working under on before you will be able to get a position as a pastry chef!
Wish I could be more helpful.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hey! Thanks for the answer!

Yes, I am planning on going to school in France (seems better than US or other countries, from what I've seen. I don't live in France currectly! I'm from Brazil). I know I won't be a pastry chef as soon as I graduate and that this will take many years, it was just a therm I've used.

Again, the salary is something based on internet research. Looking for "pastry job salary", most statistic websites tell me the average is of 45k, but when going to job posting websites I find most 25k salaries, which seem more realistic.

As for the expenses, I do realize they seem low! Am I missing something? The housing is the most expensive, but I've researched a lot and, for small studios and even rooms for rent (I don't mind roomates), 500 is what I found. I can't think of other expenses beside food (I don't eat much and can be pretty unpicky about it), electricity and general expenses.

Thanks for helping me!!
post #4 of 12

Tangerine,

I think there are a lot more collateral expenses you may have overlooked. insurance, transportation, uniforms, tools, books, shoes,internet, phone etc.. Maybe you have calculated all this with your experience.

I can tell you one thing, a good business background is very helpful in the industry. The bakeshop can sometimes become an orphan that is taken advantage of by F&B, Exec.Chef.   Small budget, low payroll etc. If you have the ability to put numbers to your work you should do alright.

panini

PS I would not count out the US schools. Even some of our local community colleges have wonderful programs.

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Panini, thank you so much for your answer!!

Just a quick question, since I'm a bit naive in this topic. Doesn't the work place offer tools and uniform? The legislation is a bit of a problem. Here in Brazil the work place must offer everything, inclusing tools, uniform, food and transportation, without charging anything from the employee. How does that work in Europe and US?

Additionally, the other thing that made me choose France was the cost. Being a shorter program (5 months at Ferrandi, which is where I'm most interested in), and including up to 6 month of internship, this looked the most attractive. What would you recommend in the US? I've checked the CIA and some schools in California, but they are longer programs (about two years) and charge a lot more for foreign students, like myself...
post #6 of 12

Tangerine,

 I have just come back to ChefTalk after a loong time and don't want to rock any boats. I've been in the industry for too many years. I have seen schools go from Culinary Schools to Chef Schools. The simple fact is that you won't be a chef upon completion without prior experience. Some of these schools both in the US and abroad have become diploma mills. You need to do your do diligence. Take the time to actually contact graduates to see where they are . Read every feedback you can get your hands on. (with a grain of salt). I'm not familiar with the Brazilian market at all, but it does not hurt to see if there are any internship programs locally. You will need this time in the industry to complete your education, keeping in mind it never ends. I sense your passion so don't let anything derail you. All of the hospitality industry is very rewarding in a weird way.

panini

btw I want to stress there are wonderful schools out there. I have had a handful of interns go on to wonderful and rewarding careers.

ps make sure you read all the boards especially on culinary students.


Edited by panini - 8/3/14 at 1:33pm
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #7 of 12

Tangerine if your from Brazil and you plan on working in the country, then i hope you know you will be very lucky to come out of school and be making $25.000k a year. 

Usually in Brazil you work a lot of years to demand a salary that high. 

 

Now working out of the country, again most likely could make less, until you have the experience to back it up or you get lucky. 

Salaries will depend widely on where you work, and the country in which you will be working. 

Location, hours, experience etc... 

 

In Brazil your employee here, must have some needed supplies and tools at the jobs location, but when going to school you most likely will have to buy your uniform, books etc... during your educational trajectory. 

 

 

I also feel your costs are a bit low....

Considering your nationality and the changing economic situation your calculations may be off, considering Euros and Dollars are a lot more valuable then reals. Meaning you may end up paying more... 

Food at $200 a month could be very difficult to hold up. 

And to pay rent at about $500 could happen if you end up living with other people....

Getting your visa and travel expenses will also cost a bit of cash. 

 

 

Now i believe the salary IN BRAZIL can increase depending on qualifications, experience and worth ethic, but i highly doubt it will surpass $50.000 a year unless you have your own business and its has an amazing reputation.

In Brazil anyone in the food industry is lucky to make the equivalent of at least $2.000 a month. 

Chefs and Pastry Chefs can make more, but that really depends on many factors. Chefs of well known restaurants in Brazil can make as much as Nascar Pilots, of course i mean Chefs like Alex Atala and Rodrigo Oliveira.... 

 

Good Luck!!

 

P.S. I know what im talking about since im from Brazil too... 

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

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post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Panini, thank you so much! I'm almost literally killing myself for not thinking of asking other people... Haha
If you don't mind, would answer some of my questions??

Kaique, I definitely don't plan in working in Brazil. Salaries here are ridiculously low even for financial positions, for pastry jobs, it's terrible! All ny calulations and expenses are in dollar/euro, visa and air fare excluded since I have another reserve for that.
Even so, I think working outside the country is for the best. Are you willing to answer some questions I have, followig panini's advice?

Thanks a lot!!
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tangerine View Post

Panini, thank you so much! I'm almost literally killing myself for not thinking of asking other people... Haha
If you don't mind, would answer some of my questions??

Kaique, I definitely don't plan in working in Brazil. Salaries here are ridiculously low even for financial positions, for pastry jobs, it's terrible! All ny calulations and expenses are in dollar/euro, visa and air fare excluded since I have another reserve for that.
Even so, I think working outside the country is for the best. Are you willing to answer some questions I have, followig panini's advice?

Thanks a lot!!

No problem...

Also do you have dual nationality to work legally outside of the country Because if not it becomes very dificult to work legally and work higher positions. 

Ask away we are all here to help... 

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

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post #10 of 12

Just throwing my 2 cents in on this one but when you come out of culinary school you are at the bottom so you will have to find a way to make your lifestyle fit your income. When I graduated from the  Culinary Institute of America - Hyde Park (1991) I got a job at one of the best restaurants in Chicago making $8.00 an hour with no parking allowance or health benefits. You will have to work your way up and as Panini said include the many expenses you left out. One option which I am a big fan of in the US is community college. They are cheap, you can work while you go to school and if you pick the right one you get just as good an education. Culinary school is not chef school (I agree again with Panini) and you don't need to spend 60K to learn basic principles.

 

Hope that helps.

Thanks,

Nicko 
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Thanks,

Nicko 
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post #11 of 12


In order to make big $ you have to put in your time like we all did. When I got out of school it was $1.00 an hour. When  I retired it was about  $40.00.   A good Pastry chef today in hotel or country club setting in Florida  Minimum  55,000. =+benefits  tops 80,000. Keep in mind I said Good.

Job Is  NOT  40 hours  if that's what your looking for.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #12 of 12

If I may, can I offer one piece of advice?

 

Try before you buy

 

You wouldn't dream of buying a pair of shoes without trying them on first, and probably the same with any piece of clothing.

 

You've never worked in a pastry kitchen, but you are willing to fork out a large chunk of time and money to prepare yourself for working in one?

 

Try before you buy

 

Get into a kitchen, any kitchen, and see if you like it.  See if you like the co workers, the employers, the working hours, the social life your job will afford you, and most importantly, the customers.  If you like this, great, go for it.  If you have to stop and think if this is really what you want to do for the next large chunk of your life, take more time to think about its 

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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