A chef patissier (pronounced pa-tees-syay) is, of course, responsible for the preparation of pastries. He or she may have the assistance of a chef confiseur and a chef glacier.

Return to Brigade De Cuisine (The Team of a Professional Kitchen)?

In English, this person is referred to as the pastry chef. He/she can be responsible for everything from desserts to breads to ice creams.

Typical days are about 14 -16 hours depending on the season and the restaurant, but the general concensus among pastry chefs is "first one in, last one out." I have worked in places where 8 hours was normal, but those are the exception. Knowledge of chocolate, sugar, doughs, breads, sorbets, as well as a very keen sense of detail are vital elements in any pastry chef's repertoire. Usually the last dish a patron sees is the pastry chef's, so it had better look and taste great.

Great pastry chefs of France are known as Meilleur d'Ouvrier , literally means "Best in Craft", and to earn that title takes an incredible amount of work that causes many to give up long before it is over. ( My chocolate instructor in Paris had three nervous breakdowns before he won his title.)

The first level is a local competition, and then there are regional and national competitions, which lead to a small number of finalists who must compete against each other in the same kitchen over a period of two days. This is very difficult, as they are closely observed by judges, many of whom are past winners. To make it more difficult there usually is just one oven and stove.

Part of the battle is to see how they compete in a very high pressure situation. Armed with only their knowledge and skill, they do not bring recipe books, but must know everything about what they make, including history and alternative techniques. History is also greatly stressed in their education as well, unlike here in America. Politics are not so important because they are looking at what the chefs can do as opposed to who they are. The American Cooking Olympics are sort of like this only not as rigorous. To win in the competition leads to many accolades, to lose definitely lowers one's self esteem.

One of the greatest winners was Yves Thuries, who won in two categories, an unmatched first. His shops and restaurant are in Cordes sur Ciel in the south of France near Albi. Which was where the last of the Cathars was executed by the way.

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