Does a pastry chef benefit from having a full culinary degree?

Joined Jun 12, 2002
Hello Everyone -

I was wondering if it was at all advantageous for a wannabe pastry chef to pursue a full culinary degree including cuisine? Is a pastry arts diploma sufficient?

Also, I'm under the uninitiated impression that being a pastry chef is less stressful than an ordinary chef - is there any truth to this?

Thanks everyone :)

Joined Mar 4, 2000
I have a degree in Pastry Arts, and there are times when I wish the curriculum had included certain courses that the culinary students took, such as table service, knife skills, and international cuisine. However, all of these things can also be learned on the job, so it's up to you whether you want to learn in a school environment, which is organized and deliberate, or in the real world, which may take longer to master. It's all a question of whether you want to spend the money to learn what you'd ultimately learn anyway.

As for the stress: It really depends on the job, the chef or pastry chef, and the employer. There is no clear cut answer to this question.
Joined Feb 21, 2001
I had a couple of decades of kitchen work, line, prep, you name it, sous chef, chef, kitchen manager, and then I got a degree in pastry arts. I wouldn't recommend putting in the same kind of time for you now, but I sure feel like I benefited from all that experience. It is helpful to know how to cook, but more important, I think it's good to know what your counterparts in the hot kitchen go through in the course of their work day. I've been in their shoes. But I wouldn't want to go back to that for anything. Work over a stove all day and you stink at the end of the day. If I go home smelling like food, I want it to be chocolate and vanilla and sugar.
Joined Jun 28, 2001
If you can get your foot in the door to work under some great chefs, I say skip the school and do that instead. I've met wonderful chefs who didn't go to school. At the same time, I've met others who didn't get such good training on the job and could have really used the professionalism schools have to offer (the good ones anyway; I took one class at a local CC and they weren't able to crank out anything more than grocery store bakers). I went to "real" school after that and was MUCH happier with what they had to offer. Going to school is usually quicker to be exposed to different things in a short amount of time. But if there is a very specific avenue you want to take, then on the job works better for that. Bah! I'm no help! LOL.
Joined Jul 28, 2001
lol, if you can understand LCS then change your profession now.
I always reply to a ? like this the same way. Focus on you major and back it up with basic business and basic cooking or baking skills. Without the understanding of hot and cold food you will not be able to pair courses easily and sometimes become dependant on your hot chef for designing you creations(not a fun career). The key to having a stress free position is having a full understanding of the business, accounting,labor,p&r,costing,etc. Once you have an understanding of these thing and are not depending on others your independance will relieve stress.
example: you don't have an understanding of labor allocations in your department. You will almost always come up short if you can't justify your needs to Mgmt.=(stress)
Just my 2 cents
Joined Jun 22, 2002
I think that at a point, it depends on the company (wheather if it's a restaurant or a hotel). Sometimes, they need people who are specialist (as Pastry Chefs) and other times, they need people with other kind of knowdledge as a full culinary degree.

I think that you can take some other courses to get this culinary knowdledge, in addition to your pastry arts degree.

I have the same idea that you have. Being a Pastry chef is less stressfull than an ordinary chef. That's just my opinion. In pastry times are different.

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