is becoming a pastry chef the smart move?

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Joined May 30, 2013
Do what you love and the money will follow.
I enjoy my work, have great insurance, am well payed, and don't work too much more than 40 hour weeks.
I do work holidays though. And savory chefs do seem to give us pastry people grief.
However everyone else loves the person with the sweets.
 
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Joined Aug 18, 2013
Take it from me who works for the medical, financial, and insurance industry. Always do what you love and "live" around that salary. Being a nurse might get you a "better" pay every two weeks, but it has horrible hours. Yes, far worse than a pastry chef. It's slave work and satisfaction? Well, there are those who love their job, but over half are there because they are trap and afraid of changing. I kept my license because it was too costly both in education and maintenance. The medical industry is changing especially now with the new healthcare law. Trust me when I tell you, the change from the labor stand point is VERY ugly. So be very sure of going into it because it isn't cheap. Btw, how do you feel about wiping someone's ass? Let that sink in for a second.
 
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Joined Mar 15, 2013
Hi Xmezzaluna, follow your passion and success will follow. Whatever you decide, please do it because you love it

You can't imagine how many people I see everyday in kitchens who are there for the pay check and not because they like what they do. For me it's hard to watch them sometimes. It's not "smart" to sell your dreams. We all work because we want a good life- the best possible. Having the job of your dreams is a big part of "the good life." /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smiles.gif
 
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Joined Feb 20, 2014
You guys are great help.I was doubting becoming a pastry chef because of all the late night and holidays but i think im gonna stick to becoming a pastry chef because its something i love doing. So thank you guys for really helping me know what i should do cause im only 15 and need to start thinking about college and careers because here in 3 years im gonna need to be ready and i have a question........Do you guys honetly like being a pastry chef???????!!!!

This is stuff id like to do....!!??

THANKS!!!!!
 
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Joined Nov 1, 2011
Here is my 2 cent input:

Many people are not lucky enough to do something that they love to do for a profession. I became a pastry chef because I eat, sleep and dream in the industry. I am completely in love with what I do. I have worked for many great bakers and learnt more from them than any culinary school can teach you and as you progress you will always learn something new. Chef's are forever learning and expanding their horizon.  As with any profession  you need to work your way up the pay grade scale. I am luckily enough now after being in the trade for 7 years to be opening up a bakery and passing on my knowledge to my young apprentice.

If you can put in the hard work you will reap the benefits.
 
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Joined Aug 4, 2000
Take it from me who works for the medical, financial, and insurance industry. Always do what you love and "live" around that salary. Being a nurse might get you a "better" pay every two weeks, but it has horrible hours. Yes, far worse than a pastry chef. It's slave work and satisfaction? Well, there are those who love their job, but over half are there because they are trap and afraid of changing. I kept my license because it was too costly both in education and maintenance. The medical industry is changing especially now with the new healthcare law. Trust me when I tell you, the change from the labor stand point is VERY ugly. So be very sure of going into it because it isn't cheap. Btw, how do you feel about wiping someone's ass? Let that sink in for a second.
I was a chiropractor who did house calls during the '90s and it was a true solid p.i.t.a..  While the profession is honorable if and only if honorably applied, the was too many hoops to jump thru.  And I practiced during the telemarketing conundrum and by twelve noon, I had very little patience remaining for my patients after a morning of 20 or so telemarketing phone calls.  The laws have made it nearly impossible to be country doctor anymore.   8^(
 
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Joined Apr 13, 2014
 Ive been a hairstylist for 24 years here in DFW.   I have worked in a non baking Job all my life and I couldnt wait each weekend to bake something I saw in Bon Appetit or a magazine or a cookbook.   The weekends were my time to myself to emerge myself in a cookbook and try something new ive never made before.  It was like I was on a mission every week to bake or cook something that friends and family would enjoy .  Looking back through the years I  have always wanted to learn the art of pastrys and often dreamed of being a Pastry Chef. 

  As a single mother in her early 40's  of three kids I saw my life needing something a little sweeter so I decided to come to Le Cordon Bleu this fall and get a degree in Pastry.   My passion in baking has consumed me in my daily life as I talk about what I want to bake each weekend with my clients.   They loved to hear what I am making each week.  I am so lucky to have the support of my family and friends and clients that allow me to go to school and work at the same time.  My dream is to be the best I can be and to continue to be passionate about desserts so I can find my true purpose in life. 

I guess my question to all of you Pastry Chefs out there is it possible to be the best since im 41yrs old?  I start school next Monday and im so nervous but want to learn all about French pastries.  

  Thanks

Amy 
 
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Joined Jun 27, 2012
The only time age has anything to do with a career in F&B is when you can no longer physically perform the work.
Hair dressers stand on their feet all day (mine wears 3 in heels lol) so that is not a problem as you are already used to it.
Your financials are none of my business just want to add this.... the money starting out may not be what you are used to compared to a seasoned hairdresser with established clientel.
All that aside, go for it!
I had to retire from both nursing and pastry due to the "no longer able to perform the job" bit.
I do still bake but now it is for my own pleasure and that of my family.
Get ready to buy a closet full of ugly non slip shoes :eek: .

mimi
 
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Joined Jun 4, 2014
Do what you love and don't look back.

I'm working for free in a small patisserie and I don't care that I'm surviving off the dole, It's the most satisfied I've ever felt and I couldn't be happier to get up at 5:00am and limp home at 7:00pm

I've worked in IT for $80K+ and I've run my own games studio, but still, I wouldn't trade my job for anything... okay, I wouldn't mind being paid, but I don't care that I'm not :p
 
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Joined Nov 6, 2001
I did not see it mentioned above but I might of missed it, your health / body is something to think about. I started in the restaurant business in my teens and now at 48 my career is starting to be a concern of mine. This business can be hard on the body and you might want to consider if you want to be cooking full time into your 60's. 
 
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Not long ago I turned 60 and am seeing a tremendous drop in my energy levels.  Be prepared for this and keep up an exercise program for your body is the only real thing you own in life.
 
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Joined Aug 28, 2014
Try to pinpoint what aspect of pastry you would like to work in. Small scale, large commercial, restaurant, bakery, hotel, cake studio...you want to do bread? Plated desserts? Breakfast pastries? Cakes? Find places that will let you stage for a day to help you figure it out.

Having worked in restaurants my entire career...an average inexperienced pastry cook will make between $8-10/hr. Some places will pay OT, others will cap you at 40 hours, others will have you work for free for a couple of hours each day (essentially shift pay). Experienced cooks will make around the $10-12 mark (excluding hotels) and once you get into management; sous positions will pay mid 30s and exec pastry positions are in the 40s and 50s. You could very well be making $25k/year even with a few years of experience.


Definitely be prepared for long hours, limited family time especially around holidays, and to work through sickness and injuries. But to me it's worth it. I love working with my hands, the camraderie you get in a kitchen, and the process of creating beautiful plated desserts. Every once in awhile I think about leaving restaurants to work in a bakery, but theres something so electric and vibrant about being in a restaurant kitchen. that being said, it's not for everyone....some people are better suited
For bakeries or catering or wherever else..

Staging in various kitchens and businesses for a day is going to be your best gauge to see if you'll enjoy this career.
 
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Joined Nov 17, 2014
As someone mentioned this is a great post to be resurrecting. I am currently researching (yet again for the 50th+ time) whether I should pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a Pastry Chef. I can tell you I have read over a hundred blogs and articles on people saying it is hard work, little pay, etc and I admire those who have much more to say than the stereotypical facts. I decided to take some alternative routes and plan on finishing up my last two quarters in Psychology. I have a master plan of wanting to accrue different certifications in the food industry to piece it together as one and be a "one of a kind" character.
 
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If its a dream and will make you happy, do it. Joy cannot be under emphasized, it keeps me going thru the hard times. Have a second income backup plan though, the pay is not there for most
 
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Joined Sep 25, 2014
Typically most pastry work where I live commands somewhere in the range of 14-16 if you've got certs. Though I never worked in a bakery.
 
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Joined Jan 23, 2015
I know I may be late in the game, but I'm considering going back to school. I've been w the same company 11 yrs and 6 of those years I've been in the Bakery dept. I was thinking of getting my education as a chef.Most ppl suggest pastry since I've been in that area for so long. I really hope to own my business but I'm not certain which direction I should take.

Open to ideas. Definitely have the passion of working w food no matter what!
 

kuan

Moderator
Staff member
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Joined Jun 11, 2001
You don't have to do school full time.  French Pastry School in Chicago does it in modules.
 
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Joined Jun 27, 2012
Welcome to Chef Talk...

See if you can get your hands on one or three textbooks that address pastry.
Pretty sure CIA has made them available for the public.

Look them over and see what you have already mastered and if that content includes (along with basic bakery skills) dishes you would see on a linen tablecloth restaurant menu or can make enough different pastries to fill an upscale bakery display case (include those jewel like confections here) you are one step away from certification in one or another aspect of pastry (certifications are oftimes just as good if you have many years of experience to back it up).
Extra points if you can create a pastry menu lol.

Then look around for an internship (inside your current company?) in one or another of the savory kitchens.
Go in with a good attitude and humble manner and you just might be taken under someone's wing (their "project" if you will) and get to see and do enuf for you to be able to make an educated decision.
Will you need additional formal education or have you picked up enuf along the way to be able to "learn on the job" (maybe take a few module classes to shore up your weaker walls).

Whatever path you chose I wish you luck......

mimi
 
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Joined Oct 11, 2014
Heya Food welcome to the forum!

You ask a great question. I have gone through the same thing you are asking about right now and it is not as difficult as one might think to get both certifications as I have. I would suggest that you challenge the Certification for Baker where you are as you have the hours and most of the knowledge to do so after 6 years. Get your employer to sign what you have done and hours worked and then study and write the exam. This way you will not lose the ability to use your hours for baking if you choose to go the culinary route and then later decide you rather have your baking certification. YES the bastards that be will not allow you to use hours you have worked if a certain time frame has passed since you worked as a baker (same goes for culinary). They also might make you take the year worth of foundation courses and still use your hours and then you are pretty much guaranteed to pass your exam. 

As for the culinary route....assuming you do not have any training nor hours in this......you must start from the beginning and go to school and get the hours. You might be lucky and get some hours that you have worked in a bakery put towards your culinary but that is up to the governing board where you live. If you have some training and hours towards culinary then challenge what you can and go to school for the rest and then accumulate the hours. 

I would also suggest that despite what we all say here on the forum, that you do your homework. Really ask a lot of questions from your governing board to your fellow bakers and chefs to your bosses at work as they might have already done this for other people. Never be afraid to ask the questions and challenge the rules as this gets you to where you want to be in a much shorter time frame without all the red tape and wasting your time and money trying to jump through their hoops.

I wish you all the best!
 
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