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Do you have any tips or advice that you can give me about entering into baking and pastry?

I'm asking so I can have more intel before I start my own business in the future.

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Jennifer’s Answer

*This response was written by a group of HPE colleagues*

We would advice as a first step to watch T.V. shows such as Master Chef and similar, to understand how people with entry level experience learn about the culinary world, the process it involves and the situations they may face. This will give you a glimpse into this area and therefore a better understanding of what to expect.
If you realize this is something that may be a good fit, we would advise practicing at home and whenever possible volunteering to bring your dish/dessert to family gatherings and ask for feedback from people you trust. Be open to recommendations!
Research local workshops or opportunities for a more professional or guided class, maybe for a few hours during the weekend to get a sense of what it would be to enter that world.

Hope this helps!
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Tim’s Answer

Just to be clear, I'm not a baker. I am answering from the perspective of a spouse who was in baking and pastry. Here's a few tips from discussing with her and from witnessing her work:
- (IMHO) You don't 100% need to go to culinary school. However, culinary school does offer a chance to hone your skills, gain confidence, and network with other like-minded individuals. My spouse did attend Culinary Institute of America, St. Helena (Napa) for pastry. You may still be able to find similar networking paths though with Reddit forums, and of course, "practice makes perfect"
- Depending on what type of baking and pastry you do, schooling and practice can be super useful though. The level of attention to detail is evident in some of the best pastries (especially cakes), and clearly there's a level of precision in baking measurements, prior to the amazing artistic and inventive designs that bakers/pastry chefs create today.
- Expect early hours. Expect hard work, particularly heavy lifting with flour.
- It's a competitive area. I know many non-professional bakers who make wonderful delectable desserts. Very few make a sincere business of it, but just do it more "for fun"
- If you're making a business, make sure you're spreadsheeting your costs, and time, in addition to your revenues, and checking how that margin looks. That's what a business is all about.
- Be prepared for accidents. I know when my spouse was doing wedding cakes, she often had back-up cakes, in case something happened.
- Transport may be part of your business, unless it's "pick-up" only. And that can be half the risk in ruining a good cake.

I hope that helps, and I wish you the best in your pursuit of glory. Happy creating!
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Derrick’s Answer

The best advise I stand by is to ask yourself why? Why do I want to do this? What is my end game?
The reasons why I ask is, if you’re a strong willed, self motivator, creative, intuitive and problem solving type person, then you’re on the right track! Often times when candidates speak of going into the Culinary and Baking field, they’re not doing it for a “real reason”, they’ve seen the entertainment side of the industry and think that everything will be as smooth as buttercream! I’m 37 years into the industry, and owned my own bake & cake shop for 5 years, I didn’t open my shops to get rich, I operated my business for the love of pastry and baking. As a CEC, CEPC, ACE, CDM, CCE, I would speak to my former students about what your heart and soul says, if you’re in it for fame and fortune, this may not be for you, but if you live, breath and imagine the possibilities of what you as a pastry chef can create with minimal ingredients, that has a awesome presentation as well as jaw dropping taste, then I welcome you to the club!!!

Chef Derrick
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