There is little doubt that one of the most important jobs in any catering establishment is the pastry chef. A large kitchen is divided into stations, each of which is headed by a chef, and the pastry chef or pâtissier is one of those station chefs, and as such he may have a number of sous-chefs or under-chefs as well as cooks and other helpers working beneath him. The pâtissier specializes in pastries, desserts and other similar goods that are baked in the oven. The pâtissier is a member of the kitchen chain of command, and is accountable for the day-to-day running of the pastry department. This includes planning the menus, costing and the ordering of such supplies as are needed by his department. He may also be called upon to try out or develop new recipes.
The duties of the pastry chef are contained and well covered within the diploma course curriculum at the Prue Leith Chef’s Academy. Prue Leith’s is a top class catering college located in the grounds of the old Littleton manor house in Hennopspark, a suburb of Centurion. The diploma course is run at the college twice a year, starting in January and July. It runs for eighteen months and is split into three semesters. The college has a well equipped teaching kitchen, a lecture theatre and a fully equipped demonstration kitchen. Many of the students who successfully complete the course and leave the college with the Prue Leith Diploma will go on to be pastry chef at some of the world’s top kitchens. The diploma is recognized the world over as an outstanding qualification. Such students are expected to be at the top of their profession within a few years of their graduation.