As fine dining and the quality of food in clubs continues to rise, chefs are realizing their pastry program deserves the same respect and authenticity as their savory cooking. As much as people want to think that a pastry department isn’t as important as the rest of the kitchen, it’s often dessert that is the last impression a club leaves on its members after their dining experience. All too often, pastries can be an afterthought to savory chefs; however, having a strong pastry program can play a vital role in making a club’s kitchen successful.
When creating a pastry menu, desserts should align with a club’s savory offerings and reflect the club’s concept and style as well as its target market and seasonality. Along with having desserts that sound irresistible when reading the menu, it’s important to have servers who are able to upsell the final course to diners along with offering options for dietary preferences. Most clubs also have more outlets to offer pastries to members than just the final course of a meal in the dining room. Between a la carte, weddings, banquets, wine dinners, and other member events, there are plenty of opportunities for members to indulge in something sweet. It’s important to remember that pastry programs are not limited to just desserts; rather, they can also prepare items, such as bread for sandwiches or bread service, and breakfast and brunch pastries as well.
Even though a pastry department can play a vital role in making a club’s kitchen successful, not all clubs have the demand or resources to employ a pastry chef. Higher-end clubs are most likely willing to spend more and invest in a pastry department, while a casual or smaller club will spend less on desserts or find a pastry department unnecessary. It could be as simple as a club looking at the financial breakdown and seeing that pastry sales aren’t worth the cost of maintaining a pastry team. Luckily, there are several ways for a club to run a successful pastry department without a pastry chef.
Even without a pastry chef, making pastries in-house can create a personal and meaningful experience for members as well as the ability to customize and accommodate any dietary needs. When making in-house pastries isn’t possible, then most clubs will outsource to local bakeries, especially if making a profit isn’t a concern. Depending on the product, size of event, or if in a peak season, certain products are just more practical to outsource as opposed to making everything from scratch. Outsourcing can also provide a club with a larger variety of products to meet event and member needs.
With high expectations from members, there can be a bit of guilt associated with buying pre-prepared or frozen products. However, with so many high-quality pre-prepared items now available to chefs, few might realize just how common the practice is. Not only are pre-prepared and frozen pastries more convenient, but they can save on labor while also simplifying the food preparation process. Suppliers now have many items that resemble and taste like scratch-made and reduce prep time. Pre-made items also do not need to be kept as is; chefs can add their own twist to the product to help it stand out.
Par-baked products give clubs a convenient solution to providing members with fresh flavors of signature baked goods. Par-baked products are the ideal solution for clubs that want time-saving ways to serve signature baked items without compromising consistency, quality, flavor, or appeal. Products can be quickly produced by staff that require minimal training compared to the artisan training and experience needed to produce quality goods from scratch. Bakery products are a staple of most meals and with par-baked products a range of baked goods of the highest quality can be produced in a fraction of the time.
There’s a lot to consider when deciding the direction a club’s pastry program should take and whether to hire a pastry chef or not, such as the cost of equipment, ingredients, and labor costs involved in producing pastries. But whatever the choice, a club’s pastry program should not be static. A pastry program should always be evolving like the rest of the menu and keep up with the latest trends in the pastry industry with a talented and passionate staff to execute it all.