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CKatCook

Pastry Chef Pay

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I am putting this here because I wanted those that work in the pastry industry to answer....

I am trying to get a realistic picture of what kind of money pastry chefs actually make. As I have mentioned before on the boards I am fixing to relocate so I can go to pastry school with my husband and I have been having some difficulty finding online a good ball park figure of what pastry chefs make, so I get an idea of what to expect.

I know this is a bit of a personal question and if you don't feel like answering me here if you would kindly PM me with it, I would be grateful. I read anywhere from 25, 000 to 60,000 on the internet.....so I am confused.

Thanks!


"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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If you're looking for a lucrative career, being a pastry chef ain't it, I can tell you.

That's why a lot of people tell you you have to love it, because most of us don't do it for the

money. I never have.

Of course I need the money, because like everybody else, I gotta pay the man. I can

pay the man, but there isn't a lot left over for luxuries or even money to stash away in savings

or IRA's.

The most I ever made doing this job was $16.50 an hour. Right now I make $15 an hour and

I have 17 years experience.

Granted, it all depends on where you are, and what exactly your job entails. I would say that the

$60,000 a year figure belongs to executive pastry chefs in NYC, Chicago, and LA and Vegas. You stand a better chance of making money if you stick to these metropolitan areas.

Most of the time, unless you are in a hotel, large corporation or grocery, you get no benefits either.

I'd say $25,000 a year is more the average wage, but even that's a little high. Remember, schools are going to sugar-coat the wage thing, because, they are a business too, and they really want to get you enrolled. Be wary.

My best advice to you is to think about what your money requirements are, and realistically, if this is the type of career you should choose based on that. Because even if low wages don't matter to you now, they will at some point.

I wouldn't be able to get by unless I had my husband's salary to count on too.....that's why I can "afford" to be a pastry chef. :smile:


Edited by chefpeon (log)

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while i agree with most of what chefpeon states above, so much depends on venue/geography/experience that the range you've discovered is very close to the reality:

if you're working at the french laundry in yountville, you can probably expect to make $75K + benefits

if you're working at a small home style restaurant in a small town, you can expect to earn an hourly wage that might end up around $25K...might or might not include benefits

i've worked in san francisco and made $42K + benefits (8 years ago)

i've worked in new york city and made $55K + benefits (5 years ago)

(due to my experience, i know i was making far less than someone else with more experience and bargaining power could earn, so take that into consideration with my numbers)

but if you factor in the cost of living in those cities, it still doesn't add up to much money

i think if you become a corporate pastry chef for a large hotel chain (ritz carlton, etc.), you can hope to earn somewhere in the six digits plus amazing benefits...but that would be far down the road with regard to experience and the kind of work/hours you're able to put into it. as you're a husband/wife team, you might have problems with a situation like that.

there are other options like country clubs, private cheffing, catering, etc. where you can control how much you work and how much money you make but again, it comes down to where you are willing to live, what venue in which you're willing to work, etc.

there's no easy or right answer to your question, unfortunately.

edited to add: the definition of a "pastry chef" is also very loosely used. some places want to hire a "pastry chef" and only pay them a paltry hourly wage. while you might get some good experience starting out at a place like this, you'll probably suffer under some crappy conditions with crappy equipment, long hours, no staff, etc.

this doesn't mean that at a higher end place with a staff, etc. that you'll be better off, but you might earn more money and get a little more respect (your name on the menu, etc) or PR which can mean more to a career than money when you're starting out.

often though, you as a "pastry chef" are required to run a department, cost out your food/menu, do the ordering of your product, hire and fire staff, maintain all standards, show up when anyone else calls in sick, etc. etc. etc. and with all of that, you are still answerable to the executive chef. you might have a bit of independence depending on how the restaurant is run, but this is pretty standard.


Edited by alanamoana (log)

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I'd like to add that you just got two answers from each end of the scale.

There's alana, who HAS done the big city pastry chef gigs, and....

there's me, who's lived mostly in small towns, and except for two jobs in large scale bakeries,

I've worked mostly in mom 'n pop shops which are where you would expect to find the lowest

wages and no bennies.

There's a lot of stuff in between, and like alana said, it's hard to generalize.

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My hubby and I aren't a "team" he is going for regular savory chef, executive chef stuff. I am going for pastry.

I wanted the "down and dirty" I didn't want it sugar coated, because if we move so we can go to culinary arts school, then I want to go with my eyes wide open. "No holds barred", so to speak. I realize schools love to sugar coat things and I really wanted a real answer. I have heard that the probably of making in the 50's is slim considering I am 38 now and lack experience. I hear advice completely the opposite. At this point I don't know which way is up. I realize that you have to love it, because one could never get rich doing this and I do love it, but I don't want to starve either. Make sense?

Thank you for your honest answers to this difficult question.

edit to add: Money isn't the only thing I am factering in....I am of the philosophy if you are going to be poor, be poor doing something you love..


Edited by CKatCook (log)

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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If money is an important factor, pastry is not for you. If you want to make money in pastry, the best route is to own a business and have other pastry chefs working for you. Money in pastry, like baking, only comes from volume (or specialization, like chocolatier or catering).

I think the most important question one has to ask oneself is "Can I deal with the drudgery, the repetition?" because, like most jobs in the food industry, pastry is all about consistency, or baking the same things over and over again. That's the one thing most aspiring pastry chefs don't realize. As a career, you have no where near the creativity options you have in a home kitchen. You make a standard set of pastries or cakes or breads, and that's it until you find your next job. If this type of production work does not appeal to you, then you are in for a big surprise, as well as a mediocre wage.

Yes, you will find yourself making the tart tatin 1000 times, and that means peeling the apples too.

I don't mean to scare you off, but you really have to love it, the good and the bad, to make a life of it. It's had work for low money. And by asking money questions up front, I recommend you think a lot about what you're about to get yourself into.

Pastry school, a good one, will run you $30-$60,000 for an associates degree. On a pastry chef's salary, it will take you a near lifetime to pay that off. That's why most people who go to pastry school end up working in a completely different field, to pay off student loans.

Sorry if I've scared you away, but these are lessons best learned upfront.

But if you really love it, it's a field worth its toil and sacrifice.


Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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btw. we are hiring a pastry chef at the moment, so if anyone wants to live in the beautiful city of cologne close to the rhine valley where all those good rieslings come from

literally "be my guest" :-)

cheers

t.


toertchen toertchen

patissier chocolatier cafe

cologne, germany

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If money is an important factor, pastry is not for you. If you want to make money in pastry, the best route is to own a business and have other pastry chefs working for you. Money in pastry, like baking, only comes from volume (or specialization, like chocolatier or catering).

I think the most important question one has to ask oneself is "Can I deal with the drudgery, the repetition?" because, like most jobs in the food industry, pastry is all about consistency, or baking the same things over and over again. That's the one thing most aspiring pastry chefs don't realize. As a career, you have no where near the creativity options you have in a home kitchen. You make a standard set of pastries or cakes or breads, and that's it until you find your next job. If this type of production work does not appeal to you, then you are in for a big surprise, as well as a mediocre wage.

Yes, you will find yourself making the tart tatin 1000 times, and that means peeling the apples too.

I don't mean to scare you off, but you really have to love it, the good and the bad, to make a life of it. It's had work for low money. And by asking money questions up front, I recommend you think a lot about what you're about to get yourself into.

Pastry school, a good one, will run you $30-$60,000 for an associates degree. On a pastry chef's salary, it will take you a near lifetime to pay that off. That's why most people who go to pastry school end up working in a completely different field, to pay off student loans.

Sorry if I've scared you away, but these are lessons best learned upfront.

But if you really love it, it's a field worth its toil and sacrifice.

While money is not a very important factor, it is one factor in many I am looking at to make the decision. I appreciate the tough talk, these are the kinds of things I want to hear.

edited for stupid spelling....


Edited by CKatCook (log)

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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while all this talk of "pastry chef" salary is nice one should really consider that walking out of school you will probably be looking in the ballpark of $10/hr possibly plus benefits but likely without. it would most likely be several years before you would advance to a sous chef position and then after that to become an outright chef, well one could certainly die of sadness for the lack of guccis and manolos a pastry career is guaranteed to bring.


Edited by nicolekaplan (log)

nkaplan@delposto.com

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while all this talk of "pastry chef" salary is nice one should really consider that walking out of school you will probably be looking in the ballpark of $10/hr possibly plus benefits but likely without.  it would most likely be several years before you would advance to a sous chef position and then after that to become an outright chef, well one could certainly die of sadness for the lack of guccis and manolos a pastry career is guaranteed to bring.

definitely a point well taken nicole. you're looking at the investment in time and money in school and then at least five years of "drudgery" before becoming a pastry chef. while i do think people in pastry tend to be promoted quickly (for lack of qualified applicants), i don't think it is always wise to move up too quickly because you then lack a good solid foundation. i know that i moved up very quickly, but stepped back early on because i knew that i needed more time to develop my skills and palate.

ckatcook, i wasn't implying that you and your husband were a team in the pastry kitchen, i've read your other threads...i'm just saying that if you want to work in the same place at the same time, that is something you'll have to take into consideration. a lot of places don't want to hire couples because if they get screwed by one, they're likely to have to get rid of the other. not saying you'd do that, but it isn't an ideal situation in every case. it will likely take your husband even longer to get his footing in the business (promotions, etc) because there are many more savory cooks out there who are 18 years old and full of spit and vinegar. while there are advantages to age (being older and more mature), the energy it takes to work 12-16 hour shifts isn't always there in the older and more mature body. there are lots of cooks waiting in the wings.

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while all this talk of "pastry chef" salary is nice one should really consider that walking out of school you will probably be looking in the ballpark of $10/hr possibly plus benefits but likely without.  it would most likely be several years before you would advance to a sous chef position and then after that to become an outright chef, well one could certainly die of sadness for the lack of guccis and manolos a pastry career is guaranteed to bring.

definitely a point well taken nicole. you're looking at the investment in time and money in school and then at least five years of "drudgery" before becoming a pastry chef. while i do think people in pastry tend to be promoted quickly (for lack of qualified applicants), i don't think it is always wise to move up too quickly because you then lack a good solid foundation. i know that i moved up very quickly, but stepped back early on because i knew that i needed more time to develop my skills and palate.

ckatcook, i wasn't implying that you and your husband were a team in the pastry kitchen, i've read your other threads...i'm just saying that if you want to work in the same place at the same time, that is something you'll have to take into consideration. a lot of places don't want to hire couples because if they get screwed by one, they're likely to have to get rid of the other. not saying you'd do that, but it isn't an ideal situation in every case. it will likely take your husband even longer to get his footing in the business (promotions, etc) because there are many more savory cooks out there who are 18 years old and full of spit and vinegar. while there are advantages to age (being older and more mature), the energy it takes to work 12-16 hour shifts isn't always there in the older and more mature body. there are lots of cooks waiting in the wings.

Thank you for your many kind responses. My hubby and I do not want to work in the same place until we own our resturant. Even then the resturant would be split into a pastry side and savory side. Believe me...LOL. :rolleyes: I am not trying to argue, I just want you to have a clear picture.

I am not deterred into being a pastry chef. I just love it...LOVE it. At this point I can't imagine doing anything else. However, it has been nice to hear "the good, the bad and the ugly" of it all. I mean just starting out you do hear all this wonderful stuff. I am not a fan of jumping into things blind only to go 'oh crap' later.

I guess I would rather be happy and poor...hehehehe.... :biggrin:


"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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All very realistic and sage advice.

Jmahl


The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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Must be great not to care if you are poor. Guess I am older than you, or lack your trust fund!

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CKatCook, it is good to go into this with open eyes, as you are doing...but if your ultimate goal is to open your own restaurant, you should be doing more than researching the career and school aspect of the business.

i'm sure, as an adult you understand the risks and costs of opening your own business...also that you are sacrificing your entire life 24/7/365 to this venture...at an age when a lot of people are starting to consider early retirement (after you go to school and get some experience under your belt).

i teach at a culinary school now and i'm pretty amazed at the naivete of many of my students when it comes to understanding the business aspect of running a restaurant. not that i assume you have the same naivete, but just to put it out there for someone else reading this thread.

there's nothing wrong with being poor and happy. i fully understand the desire to follow one's passions, but i am in the same boat as chefpeon and can rely on my husband to afford my career choice (granted, this was later in life). i did fine before i met him (no debt, etc), but there is no way that i would have been able to save any money for retirement, etc. had i stayed in new york.

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Well, from another geographical perspective.......In las vegas, or more specifically the MGM/Mirage coorporation which owns Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, Mirage, among others. The starting pastry cook(or Baker, as is what Pastry Cooks are called here) the starting salary is around $16/hour with full benefits (they pay 100%) Their is no state income tax, and they will give you a one hour paid break where they feed you.

I will use Bellagio's main pastry shop as an example, since I formerly worked there, but no longer. We were gauranteed an 8 hour shift (one hour of that was break) and overtime was optional and usually welcome, but they didn't always need it.

I have my quarrel's with the union, but the reality is if your just starting in this business, its a good way to make a solid salary, while going through your learning years. Also, another benefit is the ability to transfer. For example: Say you work at Le Cirque at Bellagio, you can transfer to someplace like Robuchon, Mix, Aureole or another restaurant that MGM/Mirage owns and keep your benefits,vacation time, and many times your pay.


Edited by Othafa9 (log)

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Well, from another geographical perspective.......In las vegas, or more specifically the MGM/Mirage coorporation which owns  Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, Mirage, among others. The starting pastry cook(or Baker, as is what Pastry Cooks are called here)  the starting salary is around $16/hour with full benefits (they pay 100%)  Their is no state income tax, and they will give you a one hour paid break where they feed you.   

I will use Bellagio's main pastry shop as an example, since I formerly worked there, but no longer.  We were gauranteed an 8 hour shift (one hour of that was break)  and overtime was optional and usually welcome, but they didn't always need it.

I have my quarrel's with the union, but the reality is if your just starting in this business, its a good way to make a solid salary, while going through your learning years.  Also, another benefit is the ability to transfer.  For example:  Say you work at Le Cirque at Bellagio,  you can transfer to someplace like Robuchon, Mix, Aureole or another restaurant that MGM/Mirage owns and keep your benefits,vacation time, and many times your pay.

I do plan on starting in a hotel. I have a huge hotel background and would love to work at some place like Bellagio or even a resort.


"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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CKatCook

there's nothing wrong with being poor and happy.  i fully understand the desire to follow one's passions, but i am in the same boat as chefpeon and can rely on my husband to afford my career choice (granted, this was later in life).  i did fine before i met him (no debt, etc), but there is no way that i would have been able to save any money for retirement, etc. had i stayed in new york.

Well, I guess from my prospective 40-50 a year (if I work this right) does not sound that bad. I know that sounds crazy, but right now to be honest, I am only clearing 36(not including my husband's income), and before that I was a social worker making much less. So really in terms of money only I am only trading one career pay for the same pay different career. One where I will be happier doing. I realize that it's hard, hard, hard work. (Bless all those that have done this all their lives...) I appreciate your kind advice, and once again it is good to get the real deal as far as advice is concerned. I know I need to learn more on the aspect of owning a resturant, and if the truth be told, we may never end up doing that. Now, exactly where in the pastry field I will end up I don't know yet. I have alot of interest in all areas. I love chocolate and candy work, I love straight up baking and particular French pastry. I know I would like to spend some time in France, honing my craft some. May arrange an internship there if I can wing it some how. My husband is just happy cooking. (me being the more practical of the two of us...LOL)


"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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while all this talk of "pastry chef" salary is nice one should really consider that walking out of school you will probably be looking in the ballpark of $10/hr possibly plus benefits but likely without.  it would most likely be several years before you would advance to a sous chef position and then after that to become an outright chef, well one could certainly die of sadness for the lack of guccis and manolos a pastry career is guaranteed to bring.

I couldn't agree more. I miss having money. :sad:

Pastry gets the worst end of the salary/ hourly pay. This is IMO, due to the fact that a "bone roaster" progresses from garde manger to hot apps to fish-veg to meat-veg etc. etc. and each promotion can result in a slight raise (50 cents to a dollar more per hour). Pastry cooks don't necessarily progress from station to station in the eyes of management, so i rarely saw raises in the pastry department. I worked with someone that hadn't gotten a raise in 10 years.

$10 per hour is what I started at as a pastry cook (50 hr/wk), and stayed there for a year. After 3 months with no pastry chef, I fell into the "Chef" role. I did the job that needed to be done, working 60-70 hours. Then after a 6 mos. went by I grew a set, and told them I love my job, but throw me a bone. I got bumped to $13. Mind you, I was also tossed into the position at 21. :rolleyes:

I left "romantic fine dining" and now I'm "Executive Muffin Wench" at a Cafe/Bakery making 600 a week (off the books) and my hours run 70 - 90 hours a week.

I don't know what your financial situation is, but we all suffer for our craft. The passion is what matters.

Good luck with school!

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$10 per hour is what I started at as a pastry cook (50 hr/wk), and stayed there for a year. After 3 months with no pastry chef, I fell into the "Chef" role. I did the job that needed to be done, working 60-70 hours. Then after a 6 mos. went by I grew a set, and told them I love my job, but throw me a bone. I got bumped to $13. Mind you, I was also tossed into the position at 21. rolleyes.gif

Ain't that the truth Bruiser? They have no problem "promoting" you, but somehow the jump in pay that comes with more responsibility, doesn't come so automatically. You usually have to end up asking for it, and for some reason it feels awkward to do that, even though it shouldn't. I HATE asking for more money, even though I know I'm perfectly justified in doing so. :wacko:

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Just as an aside to this topic, I think I must mention how much of my OWN equipment I use on the job, and this includes cake pans, my torch, all my decorating tools, molds, colors, transfer sheets, pastry bags, tips, etc etc etc. I know many other PC's who travel with their own equipment.....you almost have to, because you certainly can't count on a lot of the crap the employer provides, and if it is provided, it almost certainly is in lousy condition.....at least in my experience.

So that's another "cost" of being a PC........

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I haven't posted in a while. I moved down to So. Florida to be the full time cake designer for a high end events/catering company in Miami. The pastry chef was making $85,000. at this company. The baker was making $60,000. My salary was between theirs. We were all full time, salaried employees. Despite the salary, I left the company- many reasons, one being the working conditions, and many unfulfilled promises to provide good working conditions, etc. The pastry chef moved across the country- the only one left is the baker. The turnover is very high at this company despite the salaries. I am much happier now even if I make much less than I was there.

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Well, I got my first pastry chef job at 22 in a restaurant, and I made 14 dollars/hour, plus tips, and other perks... Ended up taking home close to $3000/month (CDN). (unfortunately the same year I also had some serious health problems which was a huge career setback)

Anyhow, this is what I've found with food jobs (I do both savoury cooking and pastries - I started on the line in fact). You never make great money, but if you have passion, can bring something to the team that no one else can, you will make a decent amount of money. Not great, but decent (ie. enough to live somewhat comfortably). I know I make more money than just about anyone my age because I can do anything - hotline, pastry, traditional cuisine, modern cuisine (molecular gastronomy), etc...

But, to make good money, you need to own your business, period (which can be a huge risk). Very few chefs make alot of money working for someone else.

Also, I never had to deal with paying for school or loans (didn't go to culinary school, just worked my way into top restaurants at a young age). That can set you back alot in cash, and also in monthly loan payments. What else, books? I have probably over 2000 dollars worth of cooking books, maybe more. To set yourself apart in the industry, you need to continually learn. Knowing the classics that they teach you in culinary school isn't enough, because no one uses them in restaurants anymore.

Anyhow, good luck to you and your husband.

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Wow...my power has been out due to a storm in the area here and I come back and there is lots of advice and replies. I am very grateful for all the advice, tips and hints.

I guess before I go to culinary arts school I will definately stage some where, I am thinking of hitting up the best hotel in the area and start collecting equipment and books.

Is there anything you would definately NOT do? Meaning, if you had it to do all over again, what would you change?

Thank you for all that you do....


"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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Um, I might suggest going to a cheaper community college sort of culinary school. I have a friend who went to the CCA in San Francisco, spent about 40-50k, and is paying over half of his monthly salary to student loans. He's been working about a year and a half for our company and has only gotten a 36 cent raise. It might be different at other schools, but still, the investment to payoff ratio sucks.

I got 10/hr at my first job. I am now making 14 as an assistant, a year later. Which is enough to live on, but I could easily double that pay doing well... just about anything else. Even entry-level postal workers make 4 or 5 dollars more than me, so it's tempting to leave this field sometimes. The chef I was working under was making 17/hr, before she quit and found a job for $20.

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not only the pay is not as much as we all would like... you also have to remember that the hours are horrendous...... if you like to sleep late..forget about it

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