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Icing on the cake

A baking specialist creates cakes, cookies, biscuits, pastries. S/he can work at the pastry substation in a hotel or restaurant or have his/her own business. For a specialist, the presentation of a product is as important as its taste and flavour.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 14, 2012 11:29 AM IST

The lowdown
A baking specialist creates cakes, cookies, biscuits, pastries. S/he can work at the pastry substation in a hotel or restaurant or have his/her own business. For a specialist, the presentation of a product is as important as its taste and flavour. A cake, therefore, has to have the perfect icing, which does not only taste good, but has to look tempting enough as well. From fruits like strawberries and passionfruit, to mangoes... the creativity of a baking specialist must know no bounds. With the concept of customised cakes gathering steam, baking offers good career prospects. If you are creative and have an eye for conjuring up interesting cakes in the shape of bags, dolls, cricket bats etc, this profession is for you. You get ample amount of recognition if your work stands out. Also, for starters, the investment capital required is not a lot. It usually requires minimum investment as compared to other fields. One can start up by advertising on Facebook by opening a page with detailed information on one’s offerings and specialisations. Pictures of one’s products can also help in gaining more eyeballs. This can lead in getting a usual of seven to 10 orders a week

Clockwork
Someone with his or her own business might have a daily routine like this:
7am: Wake up, exercise
8.30am: Walk into the kitchen and consult the order book
9am: Have breakfast in kitchen
9.30am: Start working on the orders
Noon: Take a break
2pm: Have lunch and discuss wedding cake design with a client
3pm: Clients start walking in for orders

The payoff
The junior chef of a five-star hotel or high-end restaurant might be paid Rs. 10,000 a month and a senior sous chef or pastry chef about Rs. 48,000 to Rs. 50,000 a month. Anyone with his or her own cake-making venture can survive if they manage to build up a good clientele, and sometimes make profits of about Rs. 2lakh to Rs. 3 lakh in the busy season

Skills/TRAITS
* Creativity. You have to be innovative and creative to come up with interesting recipes
* You have to have good managerial skills to lead teams if working in a hotel or a restaurant
* You have to have a sound head for business if running your own venture

Getting there
A degree or a certificate course in baking after Class 12 helps. Experience counts so that you can either join a restaurant or apprentice with a good chef. A degree in hotel management is the best route to the profession

Institutes and URLs
* Institute of Hotel Management, Training and Nutrition
www.ihm.pusa.net
* STEP proframme at The Oberoi
www.oberoihtels.com/careers
* National Council for Hotel Management and Catering Technology
www.upes.ac.in/

Pros and cons
* You get into this profession because you love what you do - which is cooking
* Profit margins can be very high in the food business
* Stressful at times in the busy season
* You deal with perishable items so you may suffer losses at times

Baking has established itself in India and is growing at a fast pace. Young people are quite enthusiastic about it, and many are taking it up as a career option Kandy Vaid, a baking specialist based in Delhi

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