A good first step to becoming a pastry chef is to obtain a baking and pastry arts certificate. Generally, getting a certificate requires you to complete a certain amount of classes, these usually being fewer than a degree would require. In addition to taking classes, you’ll often have to take a “Final Review,” in which you will have to create a dessert for one of the instructors for review. A certificate is often seen as a good alternative option to a degree.
Nevertheless, many bakeries see a certificate as inferior to a degree. A degree is something you should ultimately try to obtain if you want to become a pastry chef.
The first part of receiving a certificate is learning baking basics. You’ll learn food and kitchen safety, culinary terminology, proper use and care of equipment, and how to prepare various basic desserts. Some schools will require you to take the ServSafe Food Safety exam before moving onto the next section of the curriculum.
Next you’ll learn how to work with bread and yeast and how to prepare various types of bread. Here you will also learn the fundamentals of creating pastries. You will then move on to more advanced techniques. You’ll learn how to make specific types of desserts, such as crepes, mousses, and soufflés, and how to decorate cakes and other pastries. You’ll also learn how to create showpieces, how to prepare sauces, and use gum paste, fondant, and marzipan.
Finally, you’ll often have to apply your skills in a work-place setting. Your instructors will put you in a business environment with actual pastry chefs and artists, and be given the task to help them make various desserts.
It is hard work getting your baking and pastry arts certificate, but in the end it will pay off. Use your passion for baking to excel at your school. You’ll learn innumerable things at your cooking school, most of which can be used on the job.