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Career Profile: Pastry Chef

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http://www.bayanmall.org/blog/6-tips-to-choose-the-best-wedding-cake

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Taken by BayanMall http://www.bayanmall.org/blog/6-tips-to-choose-the-best-wedding-cake

Lillibeth Renteria, Reporter

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So, you want to be a pastry chef?

Being a baker or pastry chef is creating delicious desserts and breads for everyone. The job itself is being creative and using your imagination. It’s a very laborious job, lots of heavy lifting and concentration of specific details, learning new skills and mastering them. The job itself is difficult because it’s lots of mixing of batters and making sure the measurement of the ingredients is correct because one mistake can lead to others. Depending on the environment you work in, most bakeries start from the bottom all the way to creating new pastries. There are many types of bakers and each one plays an important part in the food business. Taking culinary classes in high school is important because you learn about certain skills needed for the industry: knife skills, measuring, the background of where your food comes from and good hygiene.

Who can do this?  Anyone who is creative and try new types of desserts. This person must have patience and the drive.  
What does it take? 

Where can you get it?  

One must have an associate’s degree and certificate in culinary school and must have taken a culinary class in high school.  
When can you do it?  Associate’s degree and certificate take at least 2 years. To be safe, take a business class or get bachelor’s in business as back up. This will take up to 4 years.  
Why should you do it?  You should be a pastry chef because seeing the smile on a person’s face if a great reward for all the hard work. The exposure the customer gives you keeps the business going.  
How much will you make?  Starting salary: $19,760 

Median salary: $24, 380 

Pastry Chef Abril Arevalo has been a pastry chef for more than 4 years now and she was willing to answer some questions about her career.

Tell me about what you do?   

I am currently a Pastry Chef, I work at cake boutique that makes various pastry treats. From cupcakes, cakepops, cakes, macaroons, cookies, brownies, and sugar cookies. But I am also skilled in the culinary field as I also worked on the line and prep cook at a restaurant as my first job straight out of college. 

How did you get into this field? Did you go to school for this?   

I found my passion for baking and cake decorating when I signed up for classes at Michaels craft store, with the Wilton program. From there I applied to different culinary schools, but sadly most 4 year culinary arts colleges only offer the culinary portion and no baking and pastry program. In Chicago, it was easy to find a school I wanted to attend because my Dad was a sous chef and guided me to the right school. I attended Le Cordon Bleu for two years and loved the classes. The teachers passed down their previous experiences from when they attended schools in different countries as well as the discipline in this field. 

What do you think is required for a job like this?   

A requirement needed for any type of kitchen job would be your sanitation license. It would be the first thing I’d get asked even before applying, I believe its a big sign to your employer about how prepared you are for the job.  

 What other jobs could you do with the skills you have gained in this field?   

Another job you could do with the skills from this field would be a Cook, line cook or prep. When I did my internship at a restaurant I learned everything from how the food was prepped for the Dinner service, to learning how to plate the food.  

What do you think the future holds for people in your occupation?   

I believe my field is the most fun yet exciting because every year there are new ideas and recipes coming into that field that are so innovating. I believe social media plays a big role because a lot a people are more of visual learners and its easy for anyone to learn how to bake to ice a cake due to YouTube and Instagram.  

What is the biggest challenge?   

The biggest challenge… has to be being so comfortable in what you learn from different jobs and learning to adjust to another work place’s work style. For example, me going from a fast paced restaurant night job to working 5 am morning shifts at a bakery was definitely a huge challenge for me. As well as learning that not everyone has the same work ethic as I do. Its very difficult working in teams when sometimes your team members don’t put in the same effort you do. It takes a toll on you and your passion for your field. I would get frustrated at times and doubt myself a lot. 

Another challenge is also the rate your employer hires you with, the minimum wage in Chicago is now $12 but it will change soon that the taxes will go up as well. A lot of places under page a lot of employees who have two or three degrees. That is a big challenge I currently face in my field. 

Are there many opportunities in this field?   

When I would go to different colleges to apply for Baking and Pastry, many of the advisors would tell me that my field wasn’t in demand. That I wouldn’t make a lot of money because not many restaurants or hotels were in a demand of hiring Baking and Pastry chefs. So my opportunities were limited but that didn’t stop me from attending college and making my hobby into my career. Compared from 2,3 years ago now the opportunities for a Baking and Pastry chef are quiet demanding now. 

Are there any tips you would give to someone going into baking and pastry? 

A big tip I would give someone would be to always stay true to your passion and never let anyone or anything get in the way of what you love doing. This field is very overwhelming due to the production and demand of these new type of desserts and cakes, so I always try to stay grounded and push myself to a safe limit that doesn’t over work my body and mind. But a big tip would be to always stand your ground and know your worth. Many business want a great job done at a low minimum wage, and I believe that your hard work should be appreciated and recognized.  

There are many private and public colleges that offer a two-year associates degree and certificate in baking and pastry. The least expensive school for this field seems to be College of DuPage with a tuition of $322.00 per credit, including knife kit and books. Another option is Triton College which has a tuition of $118.00 per credit hour. Both these schools can help you get your associates degree and certificate in two years. Some of the more expensive private schools would include Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago and Kendall College in Chicago.  

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Career Profile: Pastry Chef