In movies, pastry chefs look like these glamorous angels that create stunning edible art pieces that make you go wow. We are enamored by the way they are so passionate about their crafts. We think that they have the most envy-worthy job in the world. Imagine being surrounded by sugar, chocolates, and fruits. Imagine spending your days breathing in the smell of melted butter and pastries cooking in the oven.
But alas, the life of a pastry chef is not as glamorous as Hollywood makes it out to be. Pastry chefs do serious work in the kitchen. They have to manually operate the batter depositor at times to make sure that all cupcakes or muffins are evenly sized. They have to whip meringue and Chantilly cream by hand if the mixers break down. They have to make sure that every inch of cake is perfect so that those who have paid hundreds of dollars for it won’t go ballistic.
Whipping up New Recipes
Pastry chefs don’t make the same lemon tarts, chocolate mousse, and Tarte Tatins every day. So long as they trained someone to do these for them, pastry chefs must focus on what their real job is (aside from making sure that the pastries taste the same every day): they experiment with new recipes. Do they put chili in chocolate cake? Can they make butter cake without butter? How can they make these cakes more flavorful and less sinful?
Pastry chefs have to coordinate with the head chefs and the rest of the serving staff about the menu. They need to make sure that the desserts will complement the appetizers and entrees. As the culmination of the meal, pastry chefs are pressured to create amazing desserts that will wow dinners.
Managing Inventory and People
It’s not about mixing sugar and butter the whole day, either. Pastry chefs must deal with suppliers. They must manage the inventory. They must make sure that nothing is amiss, and everything is accounted for. If they make chocolate truffles, they should account for how many pounds of chocolate has been melted for them. Pastry chefs do reports, too. They must justify the expenses their kitchens incur.
On top of that, they have to manage the different personalities of the kitchen staff. From the sous chef to the dishwasher, the pastry chef is at the helm of making sure that everyone’s working well together. The pastry chef must lead by example.
Maintaining a Clean Kitchen
Forget about drool-worthy desserts for now. The priority of any pastry chef is to make sure that the kitchen is clean and free from contaminants. Do you know how big of a problem an unhygienic kitchen presents to the business owners? The city’s health department inspects restaurants and their kitchens to make sure that they are following sanitation and hygiene requirements.
On most days, it takes everything from a pastry chef not to break down and cry. But, hey, pastry chefs are made of sturdier stuff. They didn’t go to culinary school and survived just to cry because a gallon of butter burned accidentally. They know how to face a challenge head-on and make amazing desserts in the process.