How to Hire a Pastry Chef
Pastry is almost always first in and last out of the kitchen. Being a pastry chef requires dedication, specificity, and creativity.
When hiring a pastry chef for your restaurant, you must find candidates with that dedication and determine the other necessary qualities you want them to bring to your team.
Hiring and turnover are a challenge that plagues the restaurant industry, which is why we’ve written this guide to assist you in hiring the perfect pastry chef. We’ll cover how to define the type of pastry chef you need, what goes in a detailed job description, and how to ask the right interview questions.
According to Glassdoor, the average pastry chef makes $51-72k a year. Add in the cost of hiring and training a new staff member ($2,000); this is an expensive role that you’ll want to retain and grow with.
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How to Hire the Best Pastry Chef for Your Restaurant
In the intricate world of culinary arts, pastry chefs are masters of sweet delights. They elevate the dining experience to a whole new level.
For both seasoned restaurant owners and new managers seeking to bring this kind of talent into their kitchens, the process of hiring a pastry chef requires a discerning eye and a meticulous approach.
From executing an existing menu to reinventing classic desserts and innovating with seasonal flavors, a pastry chef can transform a meal's final course into an unforgettable crescendo. Finding the perfect fit involves a delicate balance between skill, creativity, and alignment with your establishment's ethos.
Deciding to Hire a Full-Time or Part-Time Pastry Chef
You must assess workload and demand to decide the scope of your pastry chef’s hours. Hiring a full-time pastry chef may be ideal if your restaurant experiences consistent demand for pastry items throughout the day or offers a dedicated dessert menu. This ensures availability for consistent production and creativity in pastry offerings. With a part-time chef, you’ll have limited pastry offerings and more flexibility for fluctuating dessert needs.
You should also consider your budget. Hiring a full-time chef is a substantial financial commitment. However, this person adds expertise to your kitchen and a new perspective to your menu that could bring in more clientele. Opting for a part-time pastry chef cuts the cost and is oftentimes a better fit for smaller restaurants with sporadic dessert sales or limited hours. It allows you to grow with skilled support without the expense of a full-time salary.
What are the Levels of Pastry Chefs?
There are three levels of pastry chef to consider when hiring one for your restaurant. These levels will impact the years of expertise you’re looking for and the overall salary.
Apprentice pastry chef: During an apprenticeship program, pastry chefs receive on-the-job training and coursework. They shadow seasoned and executive pastry chefs to learn pastry arts and techniques like portioning and mixing.
Pastry chef: Pastry chefs work in restaurants and commercial bakeries, and many own their own businesses or work freelance jobs for one-time events such as weddings. They prepare sweets and pastries for restaurant menus and create original desserts from scratch.
Executive pastry chef: Executive pastry chefs oversee baking departments in markets, restaurants, and commercial bakeries. They test recipes, develop menus, and handle inventory and kitchen supply orders.
Define Your Needs
Defining the specific needs of a pastry chef for a restaurant involves a thoughtful evaluation of your culinary goals, menu offerings, and overall vision.
To start, here are some general qualities that a pastry chef needs:
Creativity: A pastry chef may need to develop new recipes and innovate with seasonal flavors.
Attention to Detail: Precision is crucial in pastry-making.
Technical Skills: Mastery of baking techniques, ingredients understanding, and pastry fundamentals are essential.
Time Management: The ability to work on multiple desserts simultaneously or manage a team that does.
Passion and Patience: A love for the craft.
Here are some other ways to define what you need out of a pastry chef for your restaurant:
Evaluate Your Current Menu. If you have one, assess the existing dessert menu and determine its strengths and weaknesses. What is the potential for improvement? Do you need a professional to conceptualize future offerings?
Determine Expertise. Are you seeking a chef who can innovate with new flavors or repeat your current work? What is the level of proficiency a candidate would need in baking, chocolate work, or sugarcraft?
Kitchen Dynamics and Collaboration. How will this role collaborate with existing kitchen staff? Should this chef excel in managing time-sensitive preparation to complement the flow of your kitchen?
Operational Impacts. Assess the financial implications.
Growth and Development. Is this a potential leadership role?
By carefully evaluating these aspects, a restaurant owner can create a detailed profile outlining a pastry chef's specific needs and expectations tailored to their establishment.
Here's an example:
We need a full-time Pastry Chef to fill the role of our old one. Our existing dessert menu has been in place for 6 months, and we would like to move to a more seasonal approach with a few constant items that diners love. We need people to talk about the dessert menu. Our Pastry Chef needs to be trained, certified, and prepared to lead the execution of their desserts. They should have already worked as a Pastry Chef for 2-3 years or apprenticed in a top restaurant and are ready for leadership. This role will have some assistance from current kitchen staff, and we plan to dedicate more hires to Pastry in the upcoming year. We can afford a salary of $65,000 to start, including health benefits and a $1,000 professional development stipend per year.
Create an Effective Pastry Chef Job Posting
Now that you have written out exactly what you need from a pastry chef, you should have everything necessary to write a clear job post.
Write a Detailed Job Description
To create a descriptive pastry chef job description, simply:
Write a list of workplace expectations for the pastry chef at your restaurant, and title this section “Job Expectations.”
Include how to apply, and who to reach out to.
Write a list or include all their daily responsibilities and title this section “Duties and Responsibilities.”
Write a list of any experience requirements, certifications, or specific skills candidates must possess or satisfy and title this section “Experience and Skills.”
Highlight your restaurant’s unique selling points.
Write an equal opportunity statement.
Read our full write-up on creating a detailed pastry chef job description.
Pastry Chef Job Description Example
We are hiring immediately for a full-time PASTRY CHEF - HOURLY position.
Schedule: Full-time schedule. More details upon interview
Requirement: A minimum of five years relevant experience is preferred
Pay Range: $16.04 - $23.48
Internal Employee Referral Bonus Available
Online applications only. Apply through job posting or by emailing resumes to [email protected].
Nashville Event Catering is committed to recruiting team members who express an interest in and passion for hospitality-driven experiences; come from diverse backgrounds, are open-minded and curious about our clients and guests; and, most of all, possess a welcoming smile and spirit. Our company aims to develop mentoring and career-building opportunities through a talent pipeline that allows us to promote from within.
Creates, plans, and supervises the daily production of top-quality pastries, desserts, and baked goods. Leads our pastry team and supervises associates.
Duties and Responsibilities:
• Ensures proper food handling, presentation, portion control, and maintenance of proper serving temperatures.
• Monitors and controls the maintenance and sanitation of the pastry kitchen and equipment to ensure a work environment that meets/exceeds federal, state, and corporate standards and regulations.
• Supervises hourly kitchen/pastry associates, including interviewing, scheduling, payroll, training, counseling, participating in reviews, and recommending disciplinary action as appropriate.
• Helps plan and implement seasonal menus.
• Orders and maintains pastry supplies and products to ensure appropriate inventory levels.
• Performs other duties as assigned.
• Medical • Holiday Time Off
Advertise the Pastry Chef Job
Most new employees have discovered their latest restaurant jobs through friends (55%) or social media (50%) — with that in mind, here’s how to get the word out about your job opening.
Use Online Job Boards
Tapping into the vast pool of restaurant talent available online is crucial. Online job boards provide an extensive reach, connecting you with diverse potential candidates.
When looking at job boards, choose the right platforms, ideally websites that cater to the hospitality sector.
Leverage Social Media
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn broaden your reach and provide a more interactive space for potential candidates to engage with your restaurant's brand. Posting on social also makes it easier for your current employees to share the posting with their networks.
For this, you’ll need a visually appealing post and a link to your job posting online. Or, depending on character limits, you can shorten the description and add it straight to the social platform.
Consider using paid features to boost your job posting content to reach a larger, more relevant audience.
Tell Your Employees
Never underestimate the power of internal resources when hiring staff for your restaurant. Establishing an employee referral program incentivizes your team members to bring in talent within their networks.
If you don’t have the budget to incentivize referrals, you can motivate in other ways, such as free meals, gift cards, or recognition.
Screen the Resumes
After waiting for your applications, you’re probably excited to begin the interview process. But first, you must screen all the resumes you received – which can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for.
Develop a resume screening criteria to identify top candidates. These criteria will help you review the resumes and job applications to identify who you want to hire. You’ll score based on past experiences, qualifications, skills, and potential fit for the restaurant. Here are some of the top criteria we recommend prioritizing:
Relevant experience: Look for candidates with a proven track record in the hospitality industry, particularly in previous pastry or chef roles. Look into the types of establishments they worked in. Are they similar to your restaurant?
Customer service skills: Evaluate resumes for any mention of customer service achievements, positive feedback, or specific instances where the candidate went above and beyond to meet customer, client, or diner needs.
Knowledge of pastry: Screen for mentions of menu knowledge, any certifications related to their craft, and familiarity with any of the desserts your restaurant specializes in.
Adaptability and stress management: Restaurant environments can be fast-paced and unpredictable. Seek candidates who thrive under pressure and can adapt to changing situations seamlessly.
Team player: Assess resumes for mentions of teamwork, collaboration, or instances where the candidate worked closely with colleagues to achieve common goals.
Then select your top contenders, and move onto the interview stage.
The interview is where you get to the heart of your candidate and where your future pastry chef gets to know you.
Your pastry chef candidates should be prepared to share a culinary portfolio of past creations. Hiring managers may even ask candidates to come up with a dish on the spot after providing their menu or seasonal offerings. You can use the candidate’s resume and portfolio as conversation starters.
First, you’ll want to set the candidate’s expectations for the interview. Introduce yourself, briefly describe the restaurant, and why you’re hiring for this role. Let them know you’ll leave a few minutes at the end to answer any questions they may have.
Behavioral questions aim to uncover past behavior as a predictor of future performance, focusing on situations relevant to a chef’s responsibilities.
Examples of behavioral interview questions for pastry chefs:
Can you describe a time when you had to handle a challenging customer or a difficult service situation? How did you resolve it while maintaining a positive guest experience?
What challenges have you faced in previous kitchen dynamics?
Describe an instance where you made a mistake. How did you handle it, and what steps did you take to rectify the situation with the customer?
How would you describe your leadership style?
What was your favorite thing about your last job?
What is your proudest moment as a chef?
What qualities do you believe make a good chef?
Why are you the best candidate for our restaurant?
Where did you go to culinary school?
What aspect of your skill set are you working to improve?
What is your favorite dessert to prepare? Walk through your presentation as well.
Have you managed restaurant staff before? How many employees reported to you?
What is your experience with purchasing ingredients and creating a budget?
Tell me about a culinary trend and how you might include it in your menu.
Review References and Background Checks
Part of the hiring process is reviewing references and conducting background checks. It’s an essential aspect that job candidates will expect. This way, you ensure your pastry chefs are skilled workers but also trustworthy, reliable, and will contribute to a happy team dynamic.
Contacting Past Employers
Work history and references can be extremely helpful in hiring the right pastry chef.
Previous employer questions:
How did [candidate] manage their time, team, and energy?
What are the best dishes that [candidate] created at your restaurant?
Were they good with budgeting for ingredients?
Would you rehire them?
You should always ask permission before contacting previous employers to respect privacy.
Criminal Background Checks
Ensuring the safety of your restaurant is paramount. Background checks also help with legal compliance to make sure you’re following all relevant laws and regulations governing certifications.
Like contacting past employers, you must obtain a candidate's consent before conducting a background check. Provide the necessary information and forms and make sure they understand the process.
An important note on discrimination: a candidate’s criminal record should only be used to evaluate job suitability and not be the sole basis for disqualification.
Verification of Qualifications
In the world of pastry, qualifications and education matter. Check their certifications, such as CMPC, Food Safety Manager Certification, CPC, CFPP, or anything else listed on their resume. Ask about professional development and other relevant expertise.
Make the Offer
The best part of the hiring process – making the offer!
Provide a Written Offer Letter
A written offer letter serves as a formal legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of employment. Begin by addressing the hire by name, and express your enthusiasm for having them join your team.
Repurpose the job description here as the job details: specifying the position and responsibilities.
Outline a compensation package, including base salary or hourly, any bonuses or benefits, and pay frequency (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly).
Detail the terms of employment (an employee agreement contract), and start date. Include background and certification check conditions, a deadline for acceptance, and a signature line.
Compensation and Benefits
Be prepared for the possibility of negotiation. Some candidates may want to discuss their salary or benefits. Emphasize any unique aspects that will make your offer stand out.
Set Expectations for Start Date and Onboarding
Confirm the agreed-upon start date with your new hire, and tell them about anything they need to bring on their first day and what to expect.
Orientation and Restaurant Policies
To make your new pastry chef feel like part of the team from day one, introduce them to as many people as possible. Give them a brief tour of the establishment, and review restaurant policies and the employee handbook.
Training on Equipment and Processes
Outline a training plan, including dedicating specific shifts to learning the restaurant’s menu and operational procedures.
Encourage your new pastry chef to ask questions and provide feedback throughout orientation.
Read more here on How to retain restaurant employees.
How to Create an Effective Restaurant Training ManualGet Access
Recap: How to Hire a Pastry Chef
The key steps in hiring the perfect pastry chef are:
Define who your perfect pastry chef is. What problems can they solve? What are their hours, and how much is their pay? How do they fit in with your existing restaurant culture?
Write a job description with those values in mind. Remember to include the basics, such as location, position, and type of job.
Share that job description far and wide. Give it to your employees, your mom, your uncle. Post it on job boards, social media, and industry-specific platforms.
Screen resumes of potential candidates after creating a list of screening criteria. Reiterate who you’re looking for and who has the qualifications to fit your needs best. Choose a handful for the next step in the process.
Conduct phone screens and interviews with a few qualified candidates. Ask all sorts of questions that cover skills, behavior, and culture fit.
Review other application materials such as cover letters, personal statements, and recommendations. Call your candidates’ references if they have any.
Make an offer on your top candidate.
Begin the onboarding process with retention and training top of mind.
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