The sweetest career, in many ways

Pastries, cakes, cookies — any dessert at all make you swoon? Maybe you should get paid for that passion and become a pastry chef.

But if you do decide to go to school, you won’t just be sitting around eating bonbons. According to Cat Kemp, a pastry cook at Gramercy Tavern in New York, it’s a complicated art to learn.

“What intrigued me about pastry was the way it combines art and science,” says Kemp, “With all cooking, there’s a great deal of creativity involved — the combinations of flavors, textures, colors, as well as the plating and appearance of the food. But with pastry, there’s a great deal of science that goes into the recipes. The same ingredients, combined in different ways or in different ratios, can give you completely different foods.”

If you decide this is the career for you, you have a few options. Most schools offer a one-year or six-month program where you can get a certificate or diploma. Or you can earn an associate’s degree, which may help you advance further later on.

That said, school is not essential. “I’m glad I went to culinary school, but I don’t think it was necessary,” says Kemp.

Whichever you decide, it is unlikely you will be bored in your new career. “We try to use as many seasonal ingredients as possible, so our menu is constantly changing,” she says. “I’m still getting to make new things and learn new techniques.”