A pastry kitchen chef, or pâtisier, is a station chef in a professional kitchen, skilled in the making of pastries, desserts, and other baked goods. You will find them employed in large hotels, bistros, restaurants, and bakeries. The pastry kitchen chef is a member of the classic brigade de cuisine in a professional kitchen and is the station chef of the pastry department. As with other station chefs, he may have other chefs or assistants within his department. Bakers may also be members of the pastry department in bakeries and larger catering establishments such as hotels.
Day-to-day operations can require the pâtisier to research recipe concepts and develop and test new recipes. Usually the he does all the necessary preparation of the various desserts in advance, well before dinner seating begins. Another station chef, usually the Garde manger, often does the actual plating of the desserts at the time of order. The pastry chef is often in charge of the dessert menu, which besides traditional desserts, may include dessert wines, specialty dessert beverages, and gourmet cheese platters.
The responsibilities of the pastry kitchen chef are included in the curriculum of the Prue Leith Chefs’ Academy, a top class catering college set in the grounds of the old Littleton Manor House in Hennopspark, near Centurion. The pastry module at the academy is at Master level, and includes instruction on pies, pastries, cookies, quiches, breads, casseroles, and soufflés. The results of a morning’s work by the pastry kitchen chef are tangible. What starts as a pile of ingredients takes the shape of a delicate pastry or a beautiful loaf of bread in mere hours. And the appreciation for this labour of love is as obvious as the smiles on customers’ faces.