The people in bakeries and restaurants that create pies, cakes and other desserts are called pastry cooks. These employees have a very specialized set of skills that distinguish them from line cooks and food preparers in commercial kitchen settings; most culinary schools offer a separate commercial baking educational track. Pastry cooks must have a thorough understanding of the science of baking, as well as be able to adhere to recipes and food preparation principles. Pastry cooks must also possess artistic and creative skills, as they are called upon to ice cakes, prepare and add fillings and toppings, and decorate to add to the visual attractiveness of the final product. Because of the brief shelf life of most pastries, the pastry cook must be especially sure to make them look appetizing for prospective customers.
Most of the pastry cook's work involves an oven, which helps distinguish them from other cooking professions. Cooks who work with broilers and sauté pans and burners primarily cook by “feel” and taste during the cooking process; while pastry cooks may conduct some tasting, once pastries enter the oven, little can be done to alter a bad dough mixture.
The education requirements for pastry cook positions vary by employer. Generally, previous experience in a similar position is required. However, some employers may require culinary school graduation as well. Pastry cooks typically work in a commercial kitchen environment in a bakery or restaurant. Because of the long preparation times for many baked goods, a pastry cook should expect a typical workday to begin early in the morning, while ending by the afternoon. However, shifts may vary depending on the needs of their employer.
Pastry Cook Tasks
Produce rolls, pastries, breads and desserts according to recipes.
Prepare daily requests for supplies and various food items.
Produce quality of appearance for all foods and ensure all plates are clean and appetizing.
Control proper storage of products.