How many times have you lingered outside a patisserie, gazing through the window at the fabulous sweet creations? Do you visit restaurant after restaurant, ending up pushing your lacklustre dessert around the plate thinking “I could do better”? The world of confectionery is a skilled, creative and highly competitive industry, but if you’ve got the gift then a world of wonderful sweet creations is out there for you to discover.
‘Sweet dreams are made of this’
Some chefs will train traditionally and then specialise in confectionery, others come from a baking background, and some start their culinary careers with an immediately sweet focus. However you begin, it’s important to understand what’s involved, and how the right training can set you up for a truly delicious new beginning.
As a confectionery chef, you are responsible for creating products like cakes, desserts, cookies, chocolates, pastries, pies and doughnuts. Perhaps working in a restaurant, a bakery, or even a chocolate shop, confectionery chefs use a combination of highly honed motor skills and creative flair to develop delicious treats and sweets for their lucky customers.
‘Life is uncertain, eat dessert first’
Confectionery chefs are often responsible for menu development, so it’s important that you really understand your craft. Learning how to develop products that complement the rest of the menu is a crucial part of a confectionery chef’s career, so find a course that is going to guide you through every aspect of the job, so you’re as prepared as possible when you embark on your new exciting career.
You’ll also have to consider cost control, portioning and ordering - these will be part of both vocational and educational training. Communication is also an integral part of working in a kitchen environment, and part of your training may include developing your interpersonal skills - maybe this will be through exercises with your fellow students, practical experiences in a kitchen or presentations.
‘Learning is not a spectator sport’
Whether you’re already working in a kitchen environment, or are completely new to the business, it can be useful to gain some work experience in a kitchen. Be this in a bakery or a restaurant, an apprenticeship or work placement can complement your studies and help you gain true insight into the culinary world. Learning about kitchen safety and sanitation, as well as how to use your tools correctly and operate machinery safely will be mirrored in both your vocational and educational pursuits.
Don’t worry, your studies will be hugely practical, and a confectionery chef course will allow you to practice techniques under the watchful eye of an expert, without the pressures of a busy kitchen environment. By combining vocational and educational training, you can really get the very best start in your chosen career.
‘The object of art is to give life a shape’
An artistic eye will take you a long way in the world of confectionary. With likes of Choccywoccydoodah leading the way in elaborate, highly ornate chocolate cake designs, it takes a touch of flamboyance, a natural flair and a lot of training to perfect your art.
Training as a confectionery chef involves not only developing your natural talents, but also learning specific techniques, appreciating the chemistry and physical attributes of your medium and, surprisingly, understanding nutritional considerations, believe it or not!
‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know whatcha gonna get’
Some confectionery chefs specialise in chocolate, working their way towards becoming master chocolatiers. A lot of the work of a confectionery chef will involve chocolate, but working solely with that gorgeous sticky brown gooiness takes a special set of skills. As part of your training you may learn techniques of cultivation and processing, as well as tempering, dipping, moulding and decorating.
Chocolate is a versatile and exciting medium, and as you learn, you’ll find various ways to work with it to create gorgeous, delicious results. Whether it’s truffles, pralines, desserts or showcase pieces, chocolatiers can have a fabulous time developing extraordinary and beautiful creations - if you can’t wait to get started, why not sign up for a confectionery course today?
Test your knowledge
Think you’re ready for a career in confectionery? Take our quick quiz to test your knowledge…
Where did chocolate (cacao) originate?
(answer: South America)
What is a ganache?
A glaze, icing, sauce, or filling for pastries made from chocolate and cream
A thick syrup used to make truffles
A form of spun sugar used in confectionery decoration
(answer: a glaze, icing, sauce, or filling for pastries made from chocolate and cream)
Which flavour is not commonly paired with chocolate?
How much did the world’s largest chocolate sculpture weigh?
By Carrie Barclay
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