I’ve always been a very curious person; it opens the door for new experience and knowledge. In terms of professional skills, my curiosity has given me a wide and diverse skillset, which can be a great asset. The downside is that sometimes I feel I fall into the category of jack-of-all-trades, master of none. The good news is that there is no box that defines us; we are dynamic individuals and can use all of our experiences and skills to shape nearly any career that we want.
I tried to take those sentiments to heart and explored a LOT of various options during the course of food related career paths I could take. There were times I beat myself up about not ‘mastering’ one skillset and feeling like I was too scattered, but sometimes that’s the path you have to take.
One of the greatest takeaways from exploring a variety of career paths was the network of culinary professionals I got to know. Combined with the network from school, both the students in my course and my teachers, it’s great having so many wonderful people to reach out to for advice, inspiration and support.
Let’s take a look at a few career options after pastry school.
A food writer was something I was very drawn to, although I always wanted to pair the food writing with other areas. When I stared Recipe for Adventures it was a travel blog documenting a year around the world. It transitioned to a food and travel blog as I included my pastry school adventures, living abroad and various food and traveling experiences. Through a friend of a friend, I met the folks at SORTEDfood and what started as a bit of work experience learning the ins and outs of a YouTube channel, turned into regular contributions.
I worked on a food styling shoot for a jelly campaign, as well as helped out a London blogger/chef for a piece in a well-known newspaper. It was a great experience learning the behind the scenes of food styling working with food stylists and photographers in how to best capture the images; a few of the tips I used as takeaways for my blog.
I’ve loved photography ever since I was a kid and my dad showed me his camera. One of my most enjoyable college courses was a photography course I took my senior year (with a 35mm in the darkroom!).
In the digital media landscape these days, with blogs and social media, it’s much easier to take options one, two and three and create your own opportunities. The options of creativity in this area are endless. As are the online resources to help you learn additional skills to hone your craft!
My first real (aka paid) chef job after pastry school was as a commis chef in the production kitchen of Pretty Sweet, a high-end patisserie catering company, created by pastry chefs Claire Clark, MBE and Sarah Crouchman. It was a great building block for me professionally and helped me build up confidence in the kitchen. Catering focuses more on large quantities and making sure that everything is created with the exact same precision and quality.
This is an area I don’t have any experience in, outside using it loosely in terms of creating recipes and content for my blog. I’m more specifically referring to brands who have development chefs to create recipes for their products. A college friend of mine works in sugar and was telling me about the chef he hired to test recipes using various types of sugar. Our food science teacher from pastry school used to work for a supermarket and worked in the development in creating their line of gluten free bread. Both of those jobs and the field of development chefs very much intrigues me!
I originally had this in the number one spots, as it seems like the obvious choice, but it’s also the one I personally resisted for so long. I started work experience at a Sushisamba/Duck & Waffle (two of my favorites in London) and worked alongside and was mentored by my good friend Chan. I learned so much in those two months working in the production kitchen. I fought against a restaurant because of the stories on the brutal hours, etc, that I migrated into the other areas of the culinary landscape.
There are countless other options, some I’m sure that we haven’t’ thought of yet that a really smart innovator is out there creating right now. I think the main thing is to get as much experience as you can – be it in mastering your craft, or diversifying your skillset.
Beth, originally from Atlanta GA, quit her job to follow her dream. She took a year-long round the world trip with her best friend, then decided to pursue her passion for baking and attend culinary school in London. Now a pastry chef in Los Angeles and a food writer, her travels are focused on exploring pastries around the world which she documents on her blog: Recipe For Adventures. Catch her on Instagram, Facebook andSORTEDfood.
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