questions for a pastry and sous chef

Discussion in 'Professional Pastry Chefs' started by triniti, Nov 25, 2001.

  1. triniti

    triniti

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    10
    hello my name is Anne-Marie. i'm going to culinary arts school to become a chef. i have to do an interview on my career but i dont know if i want to be a sous chef or a pastry chef. so i was hoping that i could get an interview from both. thanks a lot.


    Here are the questions:
    1. Describe a typical day at your job.
    2. What kind of peron is best suited for this job?
    3. What kind of skills will I need for this job?
    4. What are the educational requirements? Degrees? Licenses?
    5. Why did you choose this career?
    6. What are the advantages to this career? Why? Benefits?
    7. What are the disadvantages? What is the hardest part of your job? Why?
    8. What role does technology such as computers play in your career?
    9. What is the future outlook for this career? What about job security? Do you know of any possible changes in your job in the future?
    10. What is your specialty?
    11. How long have you been interested in this career? How long have you been cooking?
    12. What culinary school did you go to or where were you trained? Where or what type of school would you recommend?
    13. What advice would you give someone going into this field?


    my email address is [email protected]

    :chef:
     
  2. leo r.

    leo r.

    Messages:
    251
    Likes Received:
    10
    Hi Triniti, there are some key differences between the two chefs.A sous chef often organises the kitchen. They brief the CDP`s and commis chefs on the days work plus any advanced preparation (mise en place). A sous chef, in effect, deputises for the Head chef, is multi-skilled in every aspect of kitchen work. As a sous chef, you need excellent communication skills and the ability to motivate people, particularly when under pressure! You will be an advisor and trainer in cookery techniques,knife skills,food presentation,hygiene legislation,etc. Leadership qualities are also essential for pastry chefs. They also train junior chefs, but their work is more specialised. A pastry chef is highly creative, the recipes they use are very precise. Most of the pastry chefs i have met are totally dedicated to their field of work. They,like head/sous chefs have extensive experience from working in different establishments. They usually hold Advanced Diploma`s/Certificates from a Culinary Academy or College. Sous/pastry chefs also take part in lots of competitions,which gives them the chance to demonstrate their skills in other parts of the world. I hope this helps you in your career choice, good luck, Leo R.
     
  3. triniti

    triniti

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    10
    no it doesn't help. i just have to have two interviews. one from a pastry chef and one from a sous chef. then i decide which career i want to use for my report. that's why i included the questions. it's so hard to find things on chefs other that executive chefs.
     
  4. w.debord

    w.debord

    Messages:
    1,640
    Likes Received:
    11
    I'm sorry Triniti I want to help you but I've answered these same questions far too many times to repeat myself again. There is alot of information that covers your questions if you read some previous posts in the culinary student thread. The answers you seek if answered properly take alot of time.

    Quickly: No one really aspires to be a sous chef (that's why theres little info. on it). Why?, it's all the same hard work and half the money and rarely do you recieve any glory. Not too many people want to be second in charge, it isn't an easy position.

    I'm a pastry chef. Quickly: Computor have no daily part of my physical career. I find my education, communication and information thru it off hours only. You'll need to understand science and some math. You'll need alot of patience, craftmenship, artisty, intelligence and percirverance (you don't have to spell though;) ). I don't see the future as extremely bright, throughout the industry commercailly produced products replace us in most restaurants. I'm self-taught.

    Advice: this can be a very hard field, work in a restaurant for at least a couple months before you deside to make this a career! READ, READ EVEN MORE, STUDY, take your education into your own hands don't think it's something someone hands to you! Dig and find the answers to your questions they've been posted dozens of times already.
     
  5. dilhavarti

    dilhavarti

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    10
    Hey. I'm the new guy at chef talk. This is the end of the first real day off I've had in about three weeks. It's five in the morning, and I'm surfing around looking for chef coats and pants that don't look like pillow cases that I can afford. You don't care, so I'll get right to the questions. If you want to see who I am, http://profiles.yahoo.com/dilhavarti.

    1. Describe a typical day at your job.

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. You're getting ahead of yourself.

    First, I drag arse out of bed. Turn on hot water in bathroom. Stumble to kitchen. Turn on water. Return to bathroom, pull sink stopper, and throw razor and great-grand-father's boar's hair brush into water, then turn shower to all hot. Return to kitchen, make coffee, return to bathroom. Pull sink stopper, stare at self, ask what I'm doing up at this hour, realize I'm going to be late, turn off sink water, then enter shower. Wash, rinse, repeat. Realize, suddenly, that because I work F, Sa, Su, I won't see my M-F wife until after New Years, at the annual family gathering in Portland, OR (airfare courtesy my parents' frequent flier miles). Make coffee. Shave, rinse, don uniform. Bicycle to work. Enter kitchen. Greet Haitian panini lady, turn on pressure steamer, walk to computer, clock in, get coffee for me and chef (who will be late), set up rice. Curse Pedro, the Salad Guy, because he is late for the 8th day in a row.

    Chef shows up soon after I clock in. Sometimes he's been in the walk-in the whole time. Whatever. I'm asleep for another hour anyway.

    Then start cooking for 4-13 hours, depending on the day.

    Return home, drink cold coffee forgotten from this morning, fight with *or* screw wife, go out drinking until 2 or 3 am. Return home, fall down, repeat.

    2. What kind of peron is best suited for this job?

    Warriors. People that chop off a finger in the middle of a rush, put the chopped-off part in their pocket, and go get it welded back on after they clock out.

    3. What kind of skills will I need for this job?

    See #2, above. And never forget how to show up on time.

    4. What are the educational requirements? Degrees? Licenses?

    In the kitchens I've worked in, a felony conviction/extremely strange or dangerous disposition seems to be sufficient.

    5. Why did you choose this career?

    Every other career I've tried to "choose" has proven to be catastrophically unsatisfying. I won't bore you with the details.

    6. What are the advantages to this career? Why? Benefits?

    People will pay you to play with food; most of the time you will drink and eat for free. And it's really cool to think that the most important tool in the job you do is a knife.

    7. What are the disadvantages? What is the hardest part of your job? Why?

    It seems Americans don't respect cooking and being a chef the way other cultures tend to. The "bright light" for me was reading Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential" on the plane on the way back home. I suddenly felt a surge of pride at being a professional chef. I could do things with the fruit of the earth and sea and air and fire and ether; things that my friends could never fathom, because I felt it from the guts, the balls, the heart, the soul and the brain in a way they could never fully understand. I make food, and the ritual of eating it, in a way that makes them worship me for two or three hours straight, worship me like a god. Plus I know how to bartend, which is a wonderful and mysterious compliment to any social gathering.

    The hardest part is fighting your own lack of confidence. Confidence will one day yield the crop of an orgasm or fainting (either, as a first, are a momentous occasion in the life of a chef) at one of your dinner parties. I have found no greater singular power over a crowd.

    8. What role does technology such as computers play in your career?

    At my last two chef jobs I have used a palm-OS based machine with a keyboard to record recipes on the fly in-between rushes. I have found this to be an invaluable tool in recording recipe adjustments. Although my keyboard now smells like fish.

    9. What is the future outlook for this career? What about job security? Do you know of any possible changes in your job in the future?

    As far as I'm concerned, people will always ask me to cook for them. Even if our great country is reduced to trading seashells for pretty rocks, good cooks will still be there, making something special using hollow boulders for reductions and seasoned car-fenders for sautée pans.

    10. What is your specialty?

    Nice stuff for the pretty people, or pretty stuff for the nice people.

    11. How long have you been interested in this career? How long have you been cooking?

    I stuffed pickle jars, peeled poached peaches, minded sun-ripened tomatoes, and tended an 1/8 acre garden in the Willamette Valley starting at age five. We couldn't afford real milk, so I was in charge of making sure we had mixed milk in the the fridge, all the time. We were poor, and necessity is the mother of all invention. I learned viscerally how to slaughter and prep most creatures with warm breath by watching it done at a very early age.

    This career chose me. I fought my affinity for it for a long, long time. I stopped fighting a month ago. It's what I need, and have learned to love.

    I've been cooking since the first day I realized one thing. If I didn't LEARN how to cook and preserve food for the winter, all my brothers and sisters, and my Dad, and my Mother, would all be hungry for a very long time.

    12. What culinary school did you go to or where were you trained? Where or what type of school would you recommend?

    The bulk of all useful knowledge in neatly arranged in libraries around the globe. More general information (which is generally more up-to-date), is usually well covered in periodicals specific to a particular industry. Periodicals tend to highlight useful areas to mine in a particular field.

    All of the school-trained chefs I have worked with have been utter flunkies at dealing with people, following the chefs menu, turning over tickets, dealing with problems, and mustering the willingness to do what it takes to do the job right. Therefore I must recommend the school of hard knocks, which teaches the modern chef that in order to plate new food for rightnow tickets, old plates must be washed; in order to have a clean kitchen, the kitchen must be maintained in a cleanly fashion; in order to turn out inspirational food, the kitchen must be inspired.

    Knowledge of how to cook well *can* be learned in school; knowledge of how to work in a kitchen is learned in kitchens. Listen to the knowledge of both, and you will sail over every obstacle with ease and grace.

    13. What advice would you give someone going into this field?

    1. A sharp knife is a safe knife.
    2. Always cut toward your friends.
    3. Remember.

    all rights reserved 2001
    Christopher Bacher, Miami Beach, FL
     
  6. w.debord

    w.debord

    Messages:
    1,640
    Likes Received:
    11
    Oh my god, what a GREAT POST dilhavarti!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I can't believe you posted all rights reserved.......you should!, because the first thing I thought was this is sooooo well written it should be laminated and glued to the front of every culinary text book and posted in the beginning of every 'want to be' thread.

    This was too much fun to read!! And unforunately dead on too!

    Anytime, anyplace I'd be delighted to work my arsk off next to you. Except....you better be 'on' and awake the moment you walk into the kitchen (no hour waking up time).
     
  7. katbalou

    katbalou

    Messages:
    589
    Likes Received:
    12
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    dear dilhavarti,
    i just had the best laugh, you desribed a day in the kitchen with such accuracy!! :D
     
  8. momoreg

    momoreg

    Messages:
    2,938
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    "Always cut toward your friends"

    :lol:

    Very funny post (and true in so many ways).
     
  9. dlee

    dlee

    Messages:
    107
    Likes Received:
    23
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    dilhavarti,

    Welcome to "The Cheftalk".

    When I hear the statement, "I want to become a chef". I just make a print of this post to hand out to people who ask the 100 questions.

    Great post Chris !

    Just one thing to correct with what you said in the defence of "the few good culinary students"..." All of the school-trained chefs I have worked with have been utter flunkies..." I would like to say most..... not all. I have a culinary student outstanding does everything and anything asked of the student and done on time.

    I also have another Culinary student who wants to become a chef and works with me part time. He does about 45 Hrs. in school and 20 hrs. with me. Then the student says it too much hours of work...... How do I answer that ...... I did not for days till the next schedule was made and gave the student a more realistic Chef schedule, and a more realistic Chef work (prep, with time limits).

    After reading my reply It should be under another thread...Like maybe ... Chef's and culinary students. Sorry guys seems like it is my turn to let off some steam. :)

    Sous Chef in Miami

    Ps; Yes W.DeBord. "the same hard work and half the money and rarely do you recieve any glory." (maybe a little glory... Sometimes...) I still would not trade my job for any other.
     
  10. panini

    panini

    Messages:
    5,159
    Likes Received:
    277
    Exp:
    Owner/Operator
    Hi Anne-Marie,
    I guess I would consider myself a Pastry Chef,
    1. Enter bakery turning off alarms and checking cooler temps on the way to the coffee machine. Pour coffee, put something stale in the oven to freshen it up for our breakfast. Greet assist. and get her started on daily inventory. Breeze through paper for current events. Check all communication for orders, phone,email etc.
    Sit with assist. have breakfast , go over orders and get daily production charts done. Tell the morning guy to put some sneakers on breakfast items or he'll be having his breakfast for lunch. Rest of the day is spent organizing, producing, purchasing and rec. etc.
    2. I think a even tempered, type A, with good communication skills and a sence of urgency is the best suited for what I do.
    3.I think skills come with experience, I'm in the industry for quite a while now but still have not stopped learning. Communication is probably the best skill to have.
    4. I was in Culinary school probably before you were born. The most important requirement to be sucessful in this field is a business education to back up your Culinary Education. If you cannot calculate your own labor,food etc. %'s you will always be dependant on someone else which usually means you will be short on $ and labor. You must understand bottom line to free yourself from the rath of belt tightening. There are also the local requirements, health permits, food handling permits, etc.
    5. I choose this career because it comes natural to me. I did start on the hot side comming up through my apprenticeship. Then flipped to pastries 20 yrs. ago. Been doing my own thing for 9 yrs.
    6. The advantages are great. I'm pretty selfish, I like the ooh's and aaah's.
    7. The disadvantages are long hours. The hardest part of my day is not seperating myself from associates. Even though you have most of the responsibilities and the worries you cannot put yourself above. You have to communicate with everyone eye to eye on a level playing field. Seperate yourself and you are the general of the army, stay with them and your the captain of your team.
    8. Lost the computer for one day and could not understand how we used to do without.
    9. I feel customers and clients have a special respect for the pastry and baking side of the field. There will always be jobs in this area. The only possible change for me personally will hopefully be my retirement in a few years. I really have my goals set to retire at 55. Maybe 40 hr weeks consulting or a bed and breakfast.
    10. My specialty, tweaking old fashioned recipes. Taking mistakes and creating some other product from them.
    11. Grew up in the business and have been cooking and baking for 30++ yrs.
    12. I went to culinary school in New England in the 70's and did my apprentichip in NY. I'm neither pro or con on Culinary Schools. The debate is great. I grew up in the bus. so it was not as beneficial. I'm all for any type of education, formal or informal. I'm just not sure of the agenda of some schools. or some chefs for that matter.
    13. I would advise anyone to go into this field, as long as you treat it as your career. Understand the industry, not just your kitchen.
    Good luck,
    Jeff
    paninicakes.com
     
  11. dilhavarti

    dilhavarti

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    10
    Hey, I'm blushing over here.

    But what really concerns me is that the original problem might not have been solved. Here's a nice person, you know, asking questions, and I go out and give it both barrels. Perhaps the backstory to getting to where I am could have been helpful.

    I spent a bunch of my summers steaming crabs and making tacos in low pressure environments. It was fast-food work that gave me the ground rules of the kitchen. I mean, you don't learn this stuff by reading it, right? You learn it by burning yourself with scalding water at taco bell. And ****, after six months of washing dishes at Sea Galley, let me tell you, I know how to get the dishwasher out of the weeds when it's busy, you know?

    Chère Anne-Marie; don't give up. You wouldn't be asking if there wasn't something in you that wants you to cook. What can I say? Like everything else I've tried, working in a commercial kitchen is no holiday. But it beats the **** out of a bunch of other things. Even if you end up smelling like fish goo, at the end of the day, you didn't spend the last eight hours looking at a computer monitor.

    Well, I'm glad y'all liked my first post here. The official promotion came through yesterday (that is, the money was approved), so it's been a pretty good week. Your comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks for the feedback!

    See you in the window!

    Christopher Bacher
    profiles.yahoo.com/dilhavarti