Becoming a Baking and Pastry Chef in Ohio
If you have a passion for baking and creating beautiful desserts, you might think about becoming a professional pastry chef or head baker. As a pastry chef, you will make artisanal breads, pastries and a variety of desserts for restaurants, bakeries and other food-related businesses. Pastry chefs also create new recipes, manage inventory and ordering, and are usually responsible for training their apprentice pastry cooks and other assistants.
Since this is a highly skilled field, you’ll have to master the basics of the baking arts and gain work experience before you’ll be considered for a leading position in the kitchen. Working in a professional kitchen takes a lot of stamina and the ability to stay focused in a sometimes chaotic environment. As an entry-level pastry cook in Ohio, you’ll have many opportunities to hone your craft as you advance your career.
Requirements for Pastry Chefs in Ohio
While there are no formal requirements for becoming an entry-level baking and pastry chef or baker’s assistant in Ohio, most employers give preference to candidates with a high school diploma or GED and some experience working in food service. To advance as a pastry chef or head baker requires high-level skills in the culinary arts and experience managing staff and inventory in a food-related business.
Pastry chefs often take culinary courses to help them qualify for higher positions in the kitchen. Obtaining an associate degree (AS) might help you advance your career as a pastry chef and may make it easier to pass the exams for professional certification.
Professional Certification for Pastry Chefs
The American Culinary Federation (ACF) offers a variety of certification options for pastry cooks and chefs. For each level of certification you’ll have to sit for and pass an examination, and then you can renew your certification every three to five years.
There are five levels of certification offered by ACF, from the initial Certified Fundamentals Pastry Cook (CFPC) all the way up to Certified Master Pastry Chef (CMPC). Gaining higher certification will allow you to stand out to potential employers and helps demonstrate your skills and experience in the pastry arts.
Culinary Programs in Ohio
Taking courses at a local college or culinary school will help you develop the fundamental skills you’ll need to secure entry-level employment as a baking and pastry chef. Culinary courses may be short-term programs that teach the basics of baking or longer programs aimed at securing an AS degree in the pastry arts.
Some culinary programs in Ohio include:
- International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute (ICASI). ICASI offers two programs for students of pastry. You can enroll in the short six-month basic pastry program to obtain a certificate of completion or go for your associate degree in the two-year advanced program. The basic program is ideal for students interested in learning the fundamentals of baking in preparation for an entry-level position as a kitchen assistant. In the advanced program, you’ll take these skills further as you learn to adapt techniques and create your own recipes as a pastry chef. You’ll also learn about restaurant management, safety and accounting, and finish the program by completing a 200-hour paid externship under a local pastry chef.
- Cincinnati State Midwest Culinary Institute (CSMCI). CSMCI has a two-year program certified by the ACF that’s perfect for future pastry chefs. Their pastry arts program teaches the fundamentals of baking, pastry and sugar art and also includes courses in nutrition, buffet design and restaurant management. You’ll fulfill general education requirements in English and math, and will take a variety of pastry-based electives like wedding and theme cakes, chocolate confections and artisanal bread making. When you graduate with an associate degree in applied business, you’ll be ready to start working as a pastry chef or even open your own food-related business.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, in 2018 there were 4,370 chefs and head cooks employed in Ohio. The BLS doesn’t list pastry chefs in their own category but includes them in this broader one, because the positions are similar. Pastry chefs in Ohio made an average of $19.75 per hour, or about $41,070 annually, in 2018, which is lower than the national average of $25.08 per hour for this field.
Projections indicate that this field will expand by 6.5 percent over the next six years, with an average of 600 job openings each year. While pastry chefs in Ohio often earn less than the national average, this is still a good area of the country to begin your career. With so many job opportunities you should be able to find an entry-level position and secure advancement as your skills mature. You may also consider applying for positions in neighboring Pennsylvania or West Virginia where the average pay is higher.
Working as a Pastry Chef in Ohio
Ohio is a great place to start your training as a baking and pastry chef. This region of the Midwest is rapidly becoming known for its unique and exciting culinary environment. The state is packed with farms and orchards, so you’ll have the opportunity to showcase local produce while making farm-to-table desserts and pastries. Whether you live in a big city like Columbus, Cleveland or Cincinnati or in a smaller town like Dayton, there’s a wide variety of restaurants and food-related businesses that employ pastry chefs at all skill levels.