To be a pastry chef, you have to know how to bake – and it helps if you know how to cook, as well. But having the ability to turn out an excellent batch of cookies after following a recipe is not all that goes into being a pastry chef, just a good home cook can’t go from their own kitchen to a busy, 5-star restaurant kitchen without some prep. The Making of a Pastry Chef is a book that doesn’t detail every skill that you need to cut it in a pastry chef’s kitchen. Instead, this book covers everything else you could possibly want – and need – to know about being a pastry chef
The book starts off with a History of Sweets, starting with what desserts were eaten in ancient times and moving up, relatively quickly, to sweets in the present day to set the stage for the pastry business. From there, it really starts to talk about pastry chefs and what inspired them to get into the field, as well as what their training and other early career experiences consisted of. The rest of the book is dedicated to food – the traditions that still are strong in the field, the trends that are followed on a year-to-year basis, and guesses at what the future of the industry might involve. Throughout the text there are tips about skills pastry chefs need and use on a regular basis, such as how to design a menu or how to put together successful flavor combinations. Many famous pastry chefs were interviewed, so there are a lot of snippets of personal stories, as well as personal tips, throughout the book.
Now, although this book could certainly provide guidelines for someone wanting to enter the pastry field, it is also an excellent read for those who are interested in sweets and baking. It might even prove to be pretty insightful to those who prefer savory cooking. The recipes in the book – all from top pastry chefs – are all do-able for the home cook and range from simple to elegant enough for fine dining, and you’ll definitely get a sweet finish with any of them if you decide to give them a try after you finish the book.