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pastry chef/dessert chef


pastrygirl
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Here's how I see it, in simple terms.

Calling a pastry chef a "dessert chef" is like calling a proctologist a "butt doctor". :laugh:  :laugh:  :laugh:

I completely agree, I think calling a Pastry Chef a dessert chef is more the narrow view or lack of understanding of the american public. Many have no idea really what a pastry chef is, they understand baker, chocolatier, etc. But pastry for americans is confusing, is it bread, cookies, muffins? they have no idea of the big picture that being a Pastry chef is... So perhaps media, or less skilled people call themselves dessert chefs, and people go "OK i get it now, you make desserts"

I do not think you would hear anyone address themselves or the media address them as a Dessert Chef in Europe/outside of the states.

For a member of the American public who seems to be lacking understanding, could someone please explain to me how "pastry chef" is more encompassing than "dessert chef," which seems to me to include both pastries and a wide array of other things?

All I've seen so far is the repetition that Pastry Chef is a much more befitting title, and dessert chef is degrading, etc., but nobody has been able to explain why this is the case. To me it seems as though it's a silly semantical dispute.

Edited by MikeHartnett (log)
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I think semantics is getting in the way of our understanding of these terms. 

A pastry chef IS a dessert chef, but so much more.  Breads, laminated doughs, viennoiserie...and everything in between that and what chefpeon mentioned.  The term "pastry chef" does sound limited.  But it is not.

If you can't make the basic building blocks of pastry, you don't have the background to make all the components which comprise most desserts.  Certainly you can put frozen puff pastry together with creams and mousses and fruit and chocolate and make whatever your heart desires and hey!...you're a dessert chef!  But a pastry chef knows how to do all of it, start to finish, no frozen doughs, no mousse from a mix, no ice cream from Haagen Dazs, no frozen choux puffs or pre-baked tart shells. 

The title is deceptive.  Don't take it literally. :wink:

I'm embarrassed to quote myself, however the above is a start at explaining "pastry chef" versus the "new" term of "dessert chef".

The Pastry Chef is an individual trained extensively in all things pastry-related and sweet-related (but savory pastries are a large part as well). (Check out the curriculum at the San Francisco Baking Institute: SF Baking Institute Bread & Pastry Curriculum.) Every component that would go into viennoiserie (breakfast pastries to most of us): croissant dough, danish dough, puff pastry, brioche, scones, doughnuts...and the filling for these items, be they fruit, cream cheese, pastry cream -- all of these doughs and fillings can be used (or variations of) in desserts. Weeks of training in additional fillings, such as mousses, and icings such as the myriad of buttercreams and ganaches, in combination with cake layers, meringues, puff pastry, pate a choux, tart and pie doughs; regional cakes and breads such as kugelhopf, panettone, gateau pithivier (and oh so many more)...these are only a few of the building blocks of the pastry world which encompass not only dessert, but breakfast, morning coffee, afternoon tea. Not to forget chocolates, ice creams, sugar work...and the knowledge of fruits which go into so many different pastries and desserts.

If there WERE to be a title of "dessert chef", they would report to the Pastry Chef.

I'm just giving the barebones of it all. Take a look at the the website above or look at some of the French pastry programs.

I'm not saying that dessert doesn't encompass a lot in and of itself, or trying to belittle anyone called "dessert chef". All I'm saying is that "Pastry Chef" is that and so much more and I hope this helps to educate those in the US who don't understand the background and years of training and practice that go into the making of a Pastry Chef.

kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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If the argument is that this goes against tradition, then ok.  But you should just say that.

okay, it goes against tradition.

also, for those of us actually practicing in the field...either as a job or as a career, it just sounds funny. whether it be semantics or an actual trend expressing job titles, if you're a pastry chef hearing that someone is a 'dessert chef' just sounds stupid. we'll see how far it goes. it's the first i've heard of it.

For a member of the American public who seems to be lacking understanding, could someone please explain to me how "pastry chef" is more encompassing than "dessert chef," which seems to me to include both pastries and a wide array of other things?

All I've seen so far is the repetition that Pastry Chef is a much more befitting title, and dessert chef is degrading, etc., but nobody has been able to explain why this is the case.  To me it seems as though it's a silly semantical dispute.

If you read the entire thread, you'd have seen the above...

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If you'd have read my entire question, you'd have seen that I was asking how the term "pastry chef," which from an objective perspective based on the word "pastry," seems to refer to the making of only pastries, is more encompassing than the word dessert, which refers to the making of any dessert, which may or may not include pastries.

Your statement, which said both "it just sounds funny" and "it just sounds stupid" did absolutely nothing to address my question. I'd like to point out that I did in fact read the entire thread, and your statement, in addition to the one I quoted, were the ones that prompted me to ask for clarification in the first place. Not one person in this thread has in any clear way explained why the word "pastry" encompasses a greater range of skills than the more general word "dessert." That is why I wish for a little clarification.

Edited by MikeHartnett (log)
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At the end of the day we all seem to be forgetting the base of this all.

Now as has been mentioned Chef is a term thrown about liberally,

Chef Patron

|

Chef de Cusine

|

Sous Chef

|

Gardes Manger Rotisseur Poissionier Entrementier Patissier Saucier

|

Commis's of all sections

Now just like Italian is the language of Music, French is the language of Cookery, now the french have a term for Dessert so if we really want to address it, is why did the french call them Pastry(Though not sure Patissier translates well) chiefs of a section.

As has been highlighted really there is no rank of Pastry Chef, the true rank is chief of pastry section. Though it is accepted to call them pastry chefs. If I said there is a new Pastry shop opening on the corner, or there is a new Patissiere you can see clearly it is a language problem.

Now in regards to me it is a made up term, but if it is accepted then I would have to agree, I'm a good tournant, I can hold my own in pastry, but I'm not a pastry chef, it takes years of training, and constantly doing it. A fine example one quiet afternoon I melted the sugar and got lost in pulling sugar roses, as the pastry chef(Head Chef) said what's that cauliflower.

I can do all the dessert bits and give me the recipe it'll be replicated so I for one would accept the term dessert chef, but not pastry chef. I've even had companies trying to send me in as a pastry chef after explaining I'm a good tournant not a pastry chef. I've even had my bread praised, but I didn't research the recipe, I didn't spend years refining it.

Perhaps all this is lost out of the industry. Apologies for not finding the accents for the french words.

Going on my limited and struggling french pate would be pastry in French, though I also see patisserie mentioned a fair bit in the english/french dictionary iirc pate de sucre is sweet pastry, pate feuilletee is puff, pate a choux is choux pastry etc..

Edited by PassionateChefsDie (log)
Perfection cant be reached, but it can be strived for!
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I guess my point is that if the reason people are upset with the term is because it defies tradition, that's fine. But when they say it's because the word dessert doesn't encompass all that pastry does, that's when I have trouble with it, because if you're going by dictionary definitions, pastry "is the name given to various kinds of baked goods made from ingredients such as flour, butter, shortening, baking powder or eggs. It may also refer to the dough from which such baked goods are made." Dessert is a "cake, pie, fruit, pudding, ice cream, etc., served as the final course of a meal." So, while the entire pastry line is not encompassed by "dessert," neither is the whole dessert line encompassed by "pastry."

I'm just sayin'.

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But that's the point the translation is Pastry, not sure its got anything to do with tradition but more a loss in translation. I for one would be happier going in a Patissiere than a pastry shop, even a dessert shop misses it for me.

The true title is Patissier Chef de Partie , but as the section is probably one of the most exacting, and very different from many others(Organisation is paramount), I for one and many in the trade accept the term Pastry Chef.

But it is strange when you think about it, you never hear of a Fish Chef, Vegetable Chef, Starter Chef, Roast Chef. Sauce Chef, Larder Chef it would generally be Section Chef de Partie. Which makes sense there can only be one chief, then if we accept chief of cusine can there be more?

Edited by PassionateChefsDie (log)
Perfection cant be reached, but it can be strived for!
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Which makes sense there can only be one chief, then if we accept chief of cusine can there be more?

Isn't it normal in some French restaurants for the pastry/dessert kitchen to be completely separate from the main kitchen? I've heard them talk about the cuisine, and then about the laboratoire. It makes some sense that they'd have different chiefs.

Notes from the underbelly

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The fact that patissier isn't translated well is a really interesting point. Maybe that's what I'm misunderstanding, then. The translation of patissier to pastry chef loses the original meaning. It's understandable that those in the position would like to retain the original meaning, but I think what confuses me is that in the English translation, you've already lost the original meaning. I almost think you're gaining more meaning by changing it to something closer to the original French meaning. Maybe not "dessert chef," since that seems to be a source of contention, but perhaps something else?

Egulleters, it's time to determine the new name for pastry chefs in English-speaking countries the world over!

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Which makes sense there can only be one chief, then if we accept chief of cusine can there be more?

Isn't it normal in some French restaurants for the pastry/dessert kitchen to be completely separate from the main kitchen? I've heard them talk about the cuisine, and then about the laboratoire. It makes some sense that they'd have different chiefs.

I've even heard of some NYC restaurants doing this. Can't remember which, though. If you've got the money to do it, and you take pastry seriously, it really is the best option, though.

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If I'm honest this is really old school I for one do accept them being Pastry chief, but that would still be a section, regardless of where the kitchen is. Many times the Larder is a separate kitchen in larger establishments, so how come they're not honoured with the title?

As the top one is Chief of Cuisine anything under him has to be a section. I think some may stem back to the organisational skills needed. I would thought the people pre-disposed for the section, would be better as organisers which I think is why sometimes they tend to be the Sous as well.

I do agree with what your saying, but it will always be a section covered by the chief of cuisine, therefore one chief the rest chief of a section(Chef de Partie).

Edited by PassionateChefsDie (log)
Perfection cant be reached, but it can be strived for!
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For a member of the American public who seems to be lacking understanding, could someone please explain to me how "pastry chef" is more encompassing than "dessert chef," which seems to me to include both pastries and a wide array of other things?

All I've seen so far is the repetition that Pastry Chef is a much more befitting title, and dessert chef is degrading, etc., but nobody has been able to explain why this is the case.  To me it seems as though it's a silly semantical dispute.

OF COURSE it is a silly semantical dispute. Are silly semantical disputes not allowed on this forum? I enjoy one now and again. Besides, pastry chefs are notoriously picky and attentive to detail, silly semantical disputes are right up our alley.

It seems we have three definitions of 'pastry' that are contributing to the confusion.

1) Pastry: a type of dough - the dough itself, such as pate choux, pate brisee, pate feuillate, pate sucre

2) Pastry: a baked good, often individually portioned, usually made out of one of the above doughs, often with other ingredients, such as a croissant or danish (is a muffin a pastry or a cake?). Pastries are often eaten for breakfast.

3) Pastry: a field of expertise that encompasses rubbed doughs, laminated doughs, creamed doughs, cakes, confections, plated desserts, ice creams and sorbets, mousses, chocolates, pulled sugar showpieces, etc.

I subscribe to #3 which is why I'm old school and think 'dessert chef' is limiting and silly. It seems we have a lot of #2 fans here. Like an old boyfriend used to tell me, 'that's OK, you're allowed to be wrong' :wink::shock:

Edited by pastrygirl (log)
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