From wedding cake designers to self-owned and operated bakeries, the most successful pastry chefs possess a number of qualities and skills that help them find the success that they currently enjoy. If you are dreaming of becoming a pastry chef, you’ll also want to develop these qualities and skills yourself. Which ones in particular, you may ask? Here are five skills every pastry chef should have:
Good grasp of Mise en Place
Mise en Place is one of the most important basics every chef learns, and having a good grasp of this practice is incredibly important for pastry chefs. How important, you ask?
Imagine you’ve been tasked to make a batch of biscuits for a client’s function. You’ve already begun to cut butter into the dry ingredients, but stop for ten minutes to prepare another batch of ingredients you had forgotten to prepare beforehand. In that short amount of time, you run a real risk of having the butter soften to a point that it ruins that unmistakable flaky texture associated with biscuits!
This simple example illustrates the importance of mise en place and can quite literally make the difference between success or failure.
Highly adaptable social nature
Although the “gift of gab” isn’t necessarily a requirement to become a successful pastry chef, it does pay to have a certain degree of social adaptability. Even if you decide to open your own business in the future, you will be working alongside other pastry chefs as well as interacting with different types of customers. A high degree of social adaptability can work wonders in launching your career to new heights outside of the kitchen.
Keen attention to detail
Given how baking leans heavily on the science behind cooking, precise measurements and temperatures are key to creating delectably picture-perfect dishes. It’s not uncommon for pastry chefs, especially those working in top-class restaurants or in hotels, to have to juggle a variety of tasks at the same time that setting an oven 20 degrees hotter than you intended to becomes a risk. As such, it’s important for aspiring pastry chefs to develop a keen eye for detail during their pastry classes.
Solid understanding of the basics and a curious palate
What separates good pastry chefs from great pastry chefs? A great pastry chef is naturally curious and often experiments with new flavor combinations and techniques in the search for the “perfect” dessert that truly deserves to be called “signature dishes”. Naturally, you will want to hone your mastery of the basics to the highest level possible before you start experimenting as strong foundational skills will make it easier for you to play around with existing dishes, which will help you develop new recipes.
Time management under pressure
The world of pastry arts can be quite fast-paced,depending on where you practice your craft. Some pastry chefs may be tempted to cut corners in order to save time, but such actions will often lead to subpar results. This is why time management and carefully planning out your next two or three moves in advance is important for pastry chefs. Of course, this skill takes time to develop to a point where it becomes as natural as breathing. Frequent practice and additional experience in a professional kitchen will also help you develop this.