Pastry and Pleasure

Culinary Baking and Pastry Chef Schools

Many students opt for a general culinary school education before they specialize in baking and pastry, and many degree programs insist on it. Certificate programs that focus on pastry chef skills are also popular.

If you specialize in pastry, expect to take elementary baking and cake decorating before moving on to pies, tarts, doughs, and pate-a-choux. Most programs also include classes in the business of baking, such as bakery management or pastry shop training. If pastry is your passion, seek out an internship in pleasure cooking, too.

A Pastry Chef's Career

Unless the restaurant you work for is very small, you'll work in your own kitchen or at least the pastry area of the kitchen, away from the frenetic pace of the hot line. You'll come in early to bake the bread, rolls, pies, and desserts for the day, and your baking will be hands on. You'll also need some artistic flair for this chef career, since pastries and desserts must be beautiful as well as luscious.

If you're fascinated by the baking profession, check out bakers' professional organizations such as the American Institute of Baking, the Bread Bakers Guild of America, and the U.S. Pastry Alliance.

With a degree or certificate from a culinary baking school or pastry chef program, you'll create the staff of life and the fun, as well. Substance and pleasure. But pleasure isn't frivolous. Digestion is a dance between the brain in the head and the "second brain" in the gut, says Harriet Brown, and it's healthier for the two brains to work as one. "As it turns out, when you eat something you like, your body makes more efficient use of its nutrients."

  • "Go With Your Gut," by Harriet Brown. New York Times op-ed (Feb 20, 2006).