Pastry or culinary? What do students like the most?, Hospitality News, ET HospitalityWorld

By Raghunandan Venkatappa

The hospitality industry is one of the largest industries in the world today. In 2019, it contributed 10.3% to global GDP, and although it experienced a sharp decline during the pandemic, it is once again booming and making an excellent recovery. In India too, the industry contributes 10% of the national GDP, which is in line with global trends. This shows us the future reach of the industry in the country. Hospitality as a general term refers to the entire industry based on travel and tourism, which includes food and beverage, travel, accommodation and leisure. In the food and beverage sector, there has been rapid growth which has been largely driven by the nation’s seasoned chefs. As a growing industry, the culinary market has been seen as imbibing western techniques, but in recent times, Indian cuisine and chefs have made their mark worldwide through several starred and popular restaurants in the world. Michelin.

Before moving on to what students prefer, a basic understanding of both terms (Culinary vs Pastry) is needed. Cooking, or as it is popularly called – hot cooking, deals with the preparation of appetizers, soups and main dishes, etc. Students opting for a culinary education begin their apprenticeship with basic knife skills, which builds on learning the basics of vegetables and fruits, meats and seafood, and other essential ingredients. Various courses have standardized curricula that range from basic subjects to more advanced culinary techniques, including regional and international cuisines, as well as modern adaptations and variations that are in tune with ever-changing consumer demands.

Although the specifics may vary from course to course, the basic idea remains the same: students learn the basic skills first, including handling and processing ingredients. It starts with vegetables and fruits, slowly moving on to meats such as red meats, poultry, seafood and also something as basic as an egg. Once the base is established, they move on to basic sauces and sauces, which helps them gain an in-depth understanding of regional and international cuisines. Regional cuisines can include North Indian and South Indian which are further broken down by state. While international cuisines include French, Italian, American, Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, etc. Once students have specific cooking knowledge, they move on to progressive techniques for preparing and presenting dishes.

Baking is a versatile industry that requires a lot of attention to detail, scientific understanding and, above all, creativity. If the name Pastry suggests a narrower definition, there are actually three sub-divisions within this field, namely Pastry (preparation of desserts, cakes, ice cream, etc.), Bakery (preparation of breads of all kinds) and Confectionery (preparation of sweets, chocolates and other sugar-based products). When we talk about a pastry course, it again emphasizes the basic knowledge of the products. Similar to cooking, the first few weeks of the course focus on teaching students how to handle common ingredients such as flour, butter, eggs, sugar, dairy, etc. The basis of most pastry courses available (both nationally and globally) is the tradition of French Patisserie; the reason for this is that it was the French chefs who streamlined the various techniques into what is now considered a benchmark. Therefore, students learn basic doughs (doughs), sponges, sauces, breads, cookies, and chocolate products to begin with.

As they progress through their journey, a more detailed and diverse set of products and techniques are gradually introduced to them. The do’s and don’ts of each product are the most important part of learning them because cooking is much more precise and scientific. Once these techniques and know-how have been understood by the student, it is time for him to give free rein to his creativity because this is the basis of all innovation in this field.

When choosing between pastry and cooking, students should keep in mind that there are usually “pastry people” and “cooking people”. That means people who like fine detail and well-defined recipes might enjoy cooking more, while those with an adaptive work style, who prefer having their hands free while cooking, might do better in the kitchen. That said, cooking professionals also have a basic understanding of baking techniques, and baking professionals also have knowledge of ingredients and culinary techniques. A holistic understanding of baking and cooking will ensure professionals are more comprehensive and better equipped to run the show in any kitchen.

What are the prospects for chefs considering a career in the baking industry?
The bakery sector is a huge umbrella that includes multiple specialized divisions, be it breads, pastries, chocolate, confectionery or custom cakes. The scope of a student pursuing a career in the industry is very versatile in terms of employment opportunities. The industry is no longer confined to hotels, restaurants and stand-alone outlets. The requirement for a trained professional has been found in airline kitchens, cruise lines, event catering, hospitals as well as corporate kitchens.

According to the report by Imarc Group, the bakery industry in India reached a value of USD 10.2 billion in 2021. The market is further expected to grow at an annual growth rate of 10.94% between 2022-27 with a maximum value of 19.3 USD. billion by 2027. One of the major driving factors of this industry is the availability or exposure of product knowledge by the Indian market. The FMCG sector has streamlined most of the common bakery products on the supermarket shelves, which has inspired young people into this career. Moreover, the existing Indian chefs have changed the face of the industry by exposing the country to niche and innovative products through the interface of social media.

Students looking to enter the industry come with great passion, the ambition to innovate and also to bring out their creativity. For this to happen, it is essential that they master their basics. This can be achieved through various programs and courses offered by the large number of academies and colleges in the country. Since the profession is skill-based, there is no need to have a background in any particular discipline. Students, whether fresh out of school or with a bachelor’s degree, can take a course that helps them learn and hone their skills to industry standards. There are several academies offering various courses for all age groups. Tier 1 cities have definitely seen an increase in student numbers over the past 3-5 years. The sole objective of such academy in the country offering the course is to improve the Indian market to accept the best quality products and have the knowledge regarding them.

The pastry and bakery industry offers a wide range of specializations. One can choose their niche and master it or one can choose to be an overall achiever. Since there are no set rules in the matter, one can always learn, practice and experiment to discover one’s true potential or area of ​​interest. All courses ensure that students learn all sections of pastry and baking, which provides a good foundation for students to understand the industry as well as its strengths. Once this is established, they can work their way through with the help of larger establishments or on their own. The hospitality industry offers them a wide range of choices to work in their preferred area of ​​interest. One can join the industry or venture on their own as an entrepreneur, either through a standalone outlet or a cloud kitchen. Also in the FMCG sector, companies need qualified and competent leaders for their research and development of new products.

The demand for fresh, healthy produce and alternative diets is on the rise, especially after the pandemic has opened up a whole new market for bakers to experiment with. Consumers have become more aware of what they eat, forcing chefs to innovate in their approach to food. Additionally, the idea of ​​sustainability has caused the food industry to return to organic methods of recipe creation.

Basic knowledge has been emphasized a lot in the industry, but it should not be forgotten that this is a people and customer driven industry. One acquires not only the practical practice of preparing products, but also how to market them to the right customers. To enhance his career, a pastry chef must work on his soft skills such as team management, time management, rigor, patience and creativity. Through the courses and training, one is sure to acquire additional skills such as inventory management, making sound financial decisions, managing the customer and their requests, handling complaints, etc. One of the most important things to remember is that throughout their career, a great chef should be pushed to learn something new, because that’s what sets them apart from the crowd.

The best advice seasoned chefs offer newcomers to the industry is to be persistent, resilient and have the ambition to learn and grow every day of your career, because there are never two days identical in the kitchen.

The author is the Executive Pastry Chef of Academy of Pastry Arts, Bangalore Center with a Bachelors Degree in Hospitality Management from Christ University completed in 2008, has various experiences working with Taj Hotel Group, Hotel Group Accor hotels at the International Expo in Carnival Cruise Line, United States, IHG Hotels