Dessert has become a practically mandatory component of any restaurant menu—diners seem to really expect that sweet ending to their meal. But it doesn’t always make economic sense to hire a pastry chef, who is only dedicated to a few small dishes.
“I see [dessert] as essential and important and valuable, but at the end of the day the numbers have to work out,” says Shawn Pham, chef of Simbal in Los Angeles, of his decision not to hire a pastry chef. “Is what [a pastry chef] is going to produce going to cover their salary and make the restaurant a profit? It’s hard to guarantee that much revenue with a pastry chef.”
The reality is that there are as many—if not more—restaurants out there with dessert programs and no pastry chefs than there are places with pastry chefs. And it is very possible to serve a standout dessert selection to your guests without making a dedicated hire.
Just take it from Pham and Greg Baxtrom (chef of the critically acclaimed Olmsted in New York). Both chefs—neither with much formal pastry training—have managed to build extremely buzzworthy dessert programs without having to invest significant resources into a pastry department. [Read more…]