Dessert Chef: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Dessert chefs require little formal education. Learn about the training options, job duties and employment outlook to see if this is the right career for you.

If you're skilled in making donuts, cakes, pies, and other delectable desserts, then a career as a dessert chef may be well-suited for you. These chefs can work in a variety of food industries, creating fine desserts and applying their artistic touch. Working as a dessert chef can be physically demanding, but it's worthwhile for someone who's passionate about what they do.

Essential Information

Dessert chefs, also known as pastry chefs, create a variety of desserts, including pastries, cookies, candies, and other sweets. This requires both technical baking skills and a creative eye. This career requires little formal education; however, many aspiring dessert chefs receive baking and pastry training through postsecondary certificate and degree programs. This job might appeal to individuals with interests in the culinary arts, restaurants and catering, and food presentation.

Required Education High school diploma; postsecondary training is common
Other Requirements On-the-job training
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% for all chefs and head cooks (faster than average)
Median Salary (2015)* $41,500 for all chefs and head cooks

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Dessert chefs, or pastry chefs, create all manner of baked goods, pastries, confections, and other desserts for restaurants, hotels, bakeries, and pastry shops. They may work as the sole chef responsible for desserts in a small bakery or restaurant or serve as part of a team of dessert chefs in larger restaurants and hotels. In smaller establishments and as the head of a team, dessert chefs often design the dessert menus and develop new recipes.

Duties

On a daily basis, dessert chefs may be required to rise very early in the morning to begin the process of making pastries or other baked goods. They may prepare ingredients, and handle baking or other kitchen equipment. In addition to being knowledgeable about the science behind the baking and pastry-making process, dessert chefs must also possess artistic skill in decorating cakes and other creations.

Dessert chefs may meet with customers to discuss the details of wedding cakes and other custom-made desserts for special occasions. Their tasks may include ordering new supplies and ingredients, and ensuring that their kitchens comply with all health and safety regulations. In larger establishments, they may also be responsible for supervising and training staff members.

Requirements

Although not required, most dessert chefs likely have some kind of postsecondary education. Training may be acquired through community colleges, culinary schools, or undergraduate schools. These institutions may offer anything from courses in baking, pastries, and desserts to associate's and bachelor's degree programs in the culinary arts.

Some culinary schools may require that applicants have acquired a certain amount of practical experience prior to entering their program in order to ensure that students are fully knowledgeable about the realities of working in the food industry. Such experience may be acquired through internship or apprenticeship programs offered through culinary societies or industry associations. Once a student has completed a baking or pastry program, he or she is generally qualified for entry-level positions, and it take years of experience before the title of 'chef' is earned.

Dessert Chef Employment Outlook

Chef and head cook positions, including dessert chefs, were predicted to increase 9% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which was faster than average. Higher-end restaurants come with the most competition, and many job applicants must hold prior work experience to have the best opportunities. The BLS also reported that chefs and head cooks made a median yearly wage of $41,500 in May 2015.

As a dessert chef, you will get to experiment with crafting and embellishing tasty confections. You can work in restaurants, bakeries, and other places, commonly alongside a team. Postsecondary education through a baking or pastry program is a common part of training, but experience is what really matters for this job.


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