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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pastry People

The following question was sent to me by an industry friend "Hey Klecko, are all Pastry people temperamental?"

The source wasn't looking for an answer, as much as looking for somebody to commiserate with. He was working on project with a collegue and apparently the two of them got into a knock down drag out. The first thing you need to realize is that the pastry camp is huge.

If somebody asked you if you liked birds...what would that mean to you? Your perception might be the cute Red Robin that graces your lawn plucking earth worms from the;earth on sun filled mornings. The person who asked it might have had a Pelican that spends have it's day pooping sardine looking stuff all over their favorite boat.

I don't have all day to erase ignorance, so let uncle Klecko split Pastry People into 2 camps first (and remenber, these camps could be split again, and again, and again) and perhaps later if the spirit moves me, we can take the topic deeper.

Pasrty Worker and Pastry Chef

The Pastry Worker often times executes their pastry menu in addition to other menus such as bread and / or cakes. they often times spend the first couple years of their training on a sheeter where they prepare Sweet / Puff Pastry / Croissant / Danish doughs.
When this task is complete and often times it will take up 1/2 a shift) the Pastry Guy / Girl will do doughnuts, coffee cakes, muffins, tie figure eights, roast nuts, and pretty much attend to the production of wares that you might find in grocery stores, gas stations or diners. If you had to make a general charactorization of this person....they are affable, hard working but not intense, have varied interests...and maybe most importantly, won't finish their career in this field.

The Pastry Chef often times (more often than not in fact) will not even work in a bakery but in a restaurant. Many of these folks have culinary educations and have to have the ability to work hard w/o being supervised. They are the only person in the building who knows how to do their job. Very few concepts can afford more than one Pastry Chef or a person with the itteligence to direct them. In my opinion this indavidual has to be more diversified than anybody in the hospitality industry.
As a bread baker there just is not a huge difference between making a German Rye and a Whole Grain basket, but in the world of preparing peoples most coveted treats......the menu changes often. Pastry Chefs also have to come in to their space and do most of the work prior to the Chefs coming in or their need for certain pieces of equipment will collide. Therefore Pastry Chef is stuck alone listening to Talk Radio by them selves as they stir compotes or bake high end scones.
The down side to being a Pastry Chef is that there are a lot of people doing it, this has really deluded their pay scale. Although there are not a lot of proficient people in this market...managment typically has the upper hand. They flaunt (through inuendo and akward silence) that they have raw talent banging at the door.
Yes my friends...if you find a talented Pastery Chef, hold onto them with your life. Like an honest mechanic, they are hard to replace.

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