Being able to prepare and cook food is not something that comes naturally to people, though some people do have a certain knack in the kitchen, they cannot adopt the title of chef. To even work in a kitchen as a sous-chef (under chef) takes the best part of two years at a catering college. During this time a catering student will learn something about cooking pastry, but not everything. The pastry chef, or pâtissier, is a member of the “brigade de cuisine” in a professional kitchen and is the station chef of the pastry department. There are very few establishments in the world that run specific courses for this area of expertise. As with other station chefs, the pastry chef may have other cooks or assistants within their department. The patisserie includes baking, sweet and savoury pastries, ice creams and fruit desserts. All of these subjects are included in the patisserie section of the Prue Leith Diploma courses.
In order to be appointed to the position of pâtissier, or pastry chef, most catering establishments of repute will insist that you have a diploma in pastry. But a diploma in pastry is not a qualification that grows on trees. Indeed, a pastry diploma is normally awarded only after very long and hard courses. There are very few establishments, especially in South Africa, that run pastry chef courses. But the Prue Leith Chefs’ Academy does offer the Prue Leith Diploma, which is highly thought of throughout the catering and hospitality industries. This diploma course includes a whole section devoted to patisserie.