01 Apr 2020
Baking is a meticulous task and if you’ve even gone slightly off track with the measurements, the consequences can be, frankly, catastrophic. As one can freely experiment in other forms of cooking, the chemistry of baking does not allow one to naturally do so. Therefore, one would ask how professional pastry chefs come up with these fabulous desserts? The answer to that is – precise measurements, creativity, and orientation to detail.
To the outside world, the job of a pastry chef may seem glamorous and pretty sweet. Starting with creating new recipes, inventing desserts and sampling some of the finest ingredients and confectionaries in the world, what’s not to love about the job. However, it’s not all crepes, fondants and crème brulées. It is a tough and challenging job and a role that demands commitment and dedication and only the best can survive, thrive and rise to the top.
As a famous pastry chef rightly puts it, “The restaurant kitchen is a place that tests every milligram of your essence. A perfectly balanced recipe of humility, hubris, and actual skill is needed.”
So, if you are thinking of making your mark in the world of sweet treats you need to develop an array of pastry chef skills and learn as much as you can about the sort of position that you will get in to, in the near future.
Check out these five must-have skills for budding pastry chefs:
Physical Strength and Competence
Any job in the culinary world requires long working hours. For pastry chefs, the physical demands are much more requiring early morning duties, possibly at the break of dawn. The work may extend well past late evenings where most of the time you will be on your feet in a hot kitchen environment. Having a lot of physical stamina is essential along with the strength that goes into mixing and manipulating pastry.
If you believe that there are no customer interactions involved in the job description of a pastry chef, you couldn’t be more wrong. In your role as a pastry chef, you will have to work on your social skills so that you can deal with customer requirements and be able to introduce new desserts in the restaurant that you work in.
Planning and Administration
Menu planning, inventory management, projections and developing recipes based on customer insights requires strategic and organizational aptitude. In addition to that, time management skills are equally essential to acquire. Compliance with safety, hygiene and kitchen regulations is also something that a pastry chef has to be well versed in.
Mastering the Art of Patisserie
This is possibly the most important of all the skills that a pastry chef must possess – having excellent knowledge of several key ingredients that are primarily used in patisserie and their various possible combinations, temperature management, mastering the display and usage of sweeteners in sugar-free desserts and having expertise in creating gluten-free desserts and pastries. The answer lies in one’s attention to detail and accurate measurements. The buzzword here is precision that holds the key to a beautiful dessert.
Patisserie also requires the chef to learn the art of being delicate and patient. Even though the hours of work are gruesomely long, a true pastry chef will never lose their creative spirit. The pressure can be tremendous, and it can affect a chef’s ability to create new recipes. Therefore, one should be able to handle the challenge and yet keep innovating.
Know Your Baking Hacks
Like every profession, pastry chefs have some unique baking hacks too that is part of the skillset that they acquire over the years. Here’s an insight into three of them:
Ice cream and cake:
Cake and ice-cream are a great combination for events. Pastry chefs can often whip an ice-cream with as less as four ingredients, whisk them together in a bowl, get the desired texture and serve it right out of freezer.
Choosing the Right Chocolate:
Professional pastry chef advises that the chocolate you eat be better than the chocolate that you bake with. Using medium grade chocolate does no harm and by combining it with elements like sugar and butter, most will not be able to even tell the difference.
Concentrate on Presentation
You eat with your eyes first and presentation in desserts add flair and character to it. This also separates the amateurs from the professionals.
Having formal training in the art of patisserie is definitely advantageous. Training is available at IICA, which is a well-known pastry school in India. Having the right skills, training, qualification and experience, is the foundation that can lead to one’s success in this competitive and demanding industry.
IICA, New Delhi