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Pastry Chef Interview Questions

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  1. As a pastry chef, how do you react if a customer sends back one of your dishes? See answer
  2. What are your favorite combinations of flavor to implement in dishes? See answer
  3. How would you react if you found out, just before the shift began, that you were missing an important ingredient? See answer
  4. Where do you prefer to get pastry when you’re not making it yourself? See answer
  5. Can you tell me the difference between a shortcrust pastry and a puff pastry? See answer
  6. Are there any food cultures or types of pastries that you’d consider a personal weakness?
  7. You take the dough out of the proving drawer, but it still hasn’t risen enough. What likely caused this?
  8. You create a batch of desserts and you aren’t happy with the finished product, but the kitchen expects the order to be ready soon. What do you do?
  9. A customer asks you what dessert items you’d recommend for someone who enjoyed savory more than sweet. What types of pastry desserts would you suggest?
  10. What are your favorite kitchen instruments to use as a pastry chef and why?
  11. Can you tell me about your greatest accomplishment as a pastry chef so far? What made it meaningful?
  12. How would you rate your piping skills as a pastry chef? What are your favorite piping techniques to use?
  13. When would you want to use buttercream versus royal icing? Do you prefer one over the other?
  14. Can you give me an example that exhibits your time management skills as a pastry chef?
  15. What is the window-pane test and when should you use it?
  16. Why is it important to use a convection oven when baking pastries and pies?
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6 Pastry Chef Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

As a pastry chef, how do you react if a customer sends back one of your dishes?

A:

This is an important question for interviewers to ask because it serves two purposes: The first establishes an important piece of interviewee history by prompting them to talk about times they’ve had a plate sent back. The other purpose is to gauge the pastry chef’s attitude about their food and ensure that they’re professional enough to take criticism in the kitchen.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Professionalism
  • An ability to take constructive criticism
  • A good attitude toward customer service

Example:

“If a customer returned my plate, I would do my best to understand why the pastry was returned and work actively to satisfy that person. If the kitchen was at fault, I’d make sure to put steps into place so that the same mistake wasn’t made twice.”

Q:

What are your favorite combinations of flavor to implement in dishes?

A:

Although pastry chefs often bring sample dishes along to interviews for employers to taste, it’s important to establish the range of flavors that the chef is comfortable working with. Someone who’s mostly confident at baking apple and cinnamon turnovers might run into issues if they’re asked to make a molten lava cake. This question establishes a baseline for the candidate’s range of skills.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Experience working with a wide variety of flavor profiles
  • Skills that suit your needs
  • Ability to conceptualize food quickly

Example:

“Although the sample dishes I’ve provided here make use of a blackberry compote, which is one of my favorites, I’m also comfortable with flavor combinations like cherry and dark chocolate.”

Q:

How would you react if you found out, just before the shift began, that you were missing an important ingredient?

A:

The candidate’s emotional reaction to this question is just as important as their words. If they seem alarmed by the concept and need to think about their answer, they might not have the experience you’re looking for in a pastry chef. A response that’s well-reasoned and confidant shows that the candidate’s knowledge of their field is rooted not only in culinary know-how but also experience in a working kitchen.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Little hesitation, if any
  • An idea of what secondary dishes they could use as replacements
  • Experience dealing with stress

Example:

“I would immediately look for something else to make using the ingredients I had left. We would apologize to customers and recommend the replacement.”

Q:

Where do you prefer to get pastry when you’re not making it yourself?

A:

This question helps to establish a more personal tone with the candidate and can shed information on their lives outside of work. Sharing what they think of pastry made by others can help you get a sense of their passion for baked goods, which is an important thing to consider in culinary pursuits.

What to look for in an answer:

  • A prompt response with gusto and enthusiasm
  • Multiple answers
  • Candidate’s skill in describing pastries verbally

Example:

“When I’m not baking pastries for myself, there’s a great little bistro downtown that serves fruit cannolis. The ricotta and wild berries blend perfectly.”

Q:

Are there any cultures or types of pastries that you’d consider a personal weakness?

A:

Establishing the candidate’s weaknesses can be an effective way to gauge their strengths, but even more importantly, it shows you where they can improve. If a pastry chef has no experience with dumplings or Japanese cuisine, you’ll want to ensure that you start them with something easy. One of the most important aspects of any pastry chef’s interview should be establishing a drive to learn.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Honesty and awareness of their flaws
  • An idea of what they’re comfortable trying
  • A detailed idea of their limitations

Example:

“Most of my experience has been in American and French pastries. I’ve never dabbled in Italian cuisine, but I’d love to learn more about it.”

Q:

Can you tell me the difference between a shortcrust pastry and a puff pastry?

A:

Pastry chefs are responsible for preparing various types of pastry desserts, each requiring different ingredients, prove times and bake times. They also need to know how to make different types of pastry. This question allows interviewers to gauge a candidate's knowledge of pastry crust and when to use one type over the other.

A candidate's answer should emphasize:

  • Passion for baking
  • Understanding of pastry types
  • Quick information recall

Here is an example of a quality candidate answer:

Example:

"Puff pastry is made using a delicate folding technique. Hence when you bake it, it puffs up, revealing the layers. That's why it's used for pastries or pies. In contrast, the shortcrust pastry is typically used for quiches or tarts. Instead of proving the dough, you chill shortcrust pastry in the refrigerator before rolling it out. Puff pastry has a nice, light texture whereas shortcrust pastry has a more thick, biscuit light texture."

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