Pastry and Dessert Arts

Pastry and dessert arts explore the technical skills and training an individual needs to create edible works of art for special occasions and everyday enjoyment. Take a look at what it takes to work in this specialized area within the food industry, including what type of training you'll need and how much you can earn in the field.

Are Pastry and Dessert Arts for Me?

Career Overview

Pastry and dessert arts are a small specialty in the larger field of food preparation where science and art intersect. A pastry chef has mastered everything from the science of baking to the art of decorating finished creations. If you've always wanted to be part of the fast-paced world of cooking and you have a flair for design, a career in pastry arts might be just the thing for you.

Career Options

Bakers and pastry chefs can be found in restaurants, catering companies, artisan bakeries and boutique dessert and pastry shops. They may also work for resorts, cruise ships, hotels and casinos. You can find work as an assistant or executive pastry chef, caterer or bakery manager, or you can specialize in one aspect of dessert arts, such as cake decorating.

Employment and Salary Info

According to Payscale.com in April 2014, pastry chefs in general were paid a median hourly wage of $12.00 an hour, while assistant pastry chefs earned $11.00 in the same month. Executive pastry chefs employed on a salaried basis earned a median annual wage of $50,746 in 2014 (www.payscale.com). As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for bakers in general are expected to increase by just 6% nationwide, or slower than average, between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Become a Pastry and Dessert Chef?

Formal Training

Some people advance to pastry chef positions through entry-level jobs, receiving on-the-job training and apprenticing under experienced chefs. You can also find formal training in pastry and dessert arts through community colleges and cooking schools. In a professional baking and pastry arts program, you can gain a strong understanding of basic culinary skills and learn about equipment, food safety, nutrition and kitchen management.

Degree Programs

If you're just getting started, you may be interested in obtaining an associate degree, while working in the food service industry. Two-year programs may include topics in food costs, plated dessert presentation and international desserts. Bachelor's degree and certificate programs are also available. While pursuing a 4-year program, you might receive training in food protection management, food science chemistry, accounting and economics. You'll also study classical pastries and desserts, baking production, candies and cake decorating.

Professional Certifications

After finishing a degree or certificate program and acquiring some professional work experience, you may pursue voluntary certification through the American Culinary Federation (www.acfchefs.org). This organization offers four levels of pastry certification, completion of which could confer an advantage in this highly competitive field.

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