What pastry school supplies does a burgeoning pastry chef need? What supplies do you need for pastry school that your school won't provide?
Whether you're about to start classes or looking for a gift for someone you know who is about to join an incoming class of pastry chefs, this list of pastry school supplies is just what you're looking for. I know you might think pastry school supplies are things like rolling pins and measuring cups and fancy tools and all that stuff, but most pastry school kitchens already have that stuff. So this isn't the stuff you think you need. These are the pastry school supplies you actually need.
Why should you listen to me?
In February 2021 I graduated as valedictorian from Cambridge School of Culinary Arts' pastry certification program having made entremets and croissants and mousses and pate a bombes and so much more. The part-time, 300+ hour, 16-week intensive program had me on my feet and in the kitchen two days a week from 8:30 am to 4:30 p.m. with an evening seminar weekly on topics ranging from ServSafe (I'm certified) to the business of food management to the science of chocolate and how to write a good recipe.
I also love gadgets, tools, back-to-school shopping, and believe in always being over prepared.
What pastry school supplies will be provided by your school?
I can't speak for all pastry schools (I only went to CSCA). But tuition at most pastry schools will include the cost for lot of the pastry school supplies you will need for your classes. Incoming pastry students at CSCA each received a Mercer backpack which comes with a hard-sided knife kit case tucked inside filled with all sorts of tools, from piping tips to cake knives to kitchen scales and so much more. We also recieved 2 white chefs coats (with our names on them, fancy!), two pairs of checkered pants, two black aprons, and a white chef's training cap.
Pastry school kitchens will have plenty of their own tools and gadgets on hand. At one point I stopped bringing my kitchen scale with me because there was always a stack of extras in the kitchen and I used mine so often at home. But that doesn't mean there weren't still things that weren't provided (or that I wanted to make sure I'd never be without) that I made sure to bring with me every day.
While it's great that there are communal supplies in the pastry kitchen, when you're in a rush and you can't find the one shared [insert item here] it's annoying! You'll be glad you have these with you.
Here's what you'll want to have with you in class:
1. O'Keefe's Working Hands to prevent painful cuticle cracks and dryness
You wash your hands a lot in pastry classes. In all culinary classes, actually. (And we washed ours even more often because of COVID precautions.) You're also frequently taking latex gloves on and off, handling lots of dry ingredients, and oh my god the amount of dishes you'll be washing??? SO MANY DISHES. Your hands will get beat up. On the first day of classes, one of my chef instructors told us all to pick up a "big green tub" of O'Keefe's Working Hands. I'm so glad I did.
A little goes a long way with this stuff; a pea-sized amount is enough for each hand. One tub will last you forever. It's a heavy duty moisturizer that absorbs into the skin quickly so you can get back to work without your hands feeling greasy and gross inside your gloves.
2. Dr. Scholl's Kitchen Clogs (in wide width, too!) for all-day foot comfort
A non-negotiable requirement of most kitchens is a pair of closed-toed non-slip does. Usually black. There are a lot of options out there but most chefs swear by a clog-style shoe.
I was nervous about the shoe requirement because I have wide feet and a lot of times it's hard for me to find shoes that fit and are comfortable. It was crucial for me to find shoes that I could wear while being on my feet all day without hurting, and luckily Dr. Scholl's clogs come in wide widths.
Dansko's Professional Clogs are also a popular choice, but I found they were too tight.
At the end of the first few days of classes my feet were killing me, but once I got used to being on my feet all day, these were the comfiest shoes I could've asked for. (If you're not used to being on your feet all day, you may also want to get a foot massage roller or plantar fasciitis inserts to go with them.)
3. Sharpies (12 ct) so your hard work doesn't get thrown out during end of day fridge clear out
Labeling and dating your items in the communal kitchen fridge and freezer requires one tool: a sharpie. Trust me, you never want to go to grab your carefully prepared dessert component from the fridge only to find it was composted because you forgot to label it.
Keep a Sharpie in the sleeve of your chef coat at all times. You need at least 12 of them because you will lose them.
4. Masking tape for labeling your food
If Sharpies are one half of making sure to always label your items, a good roll of masking tape is the other. Write your name on the side of the roll so you always know it's yours. Sure, there will probably be a communal roll of masking tape, but it will also often go missing, fall under tables, or be all used up just when you need it.
Of course you'll share your masking tape roll with your classmates if they need it or can't find their own, but knowing that you always have a roll in your bag means that never having to worry about where the classroom roll has wandered off to.
5. Plastic sheet protectors (50 ct) for keeping your recipes safe from spills
Things get messy in the kitchen and when you've got a printed copy of recipe to work off of, the last thing you want is to spill something and render your recipe unreadable. Once I received my recipes for the day, I'd slip them into a sheet protector before bringing them into the kitchen with me to keep them safe while I worked.
Get a pack of 50. You'll get several uses out of each before they're too scuffed up and warped to see your recipes through anymore, but you'll definitely want to have extras.
Pro-tip: If you need to cut a recipe down or scale a recipe up, use a piece of masking tape to cover up the initial measurements and write the new measurements over them. That way you don't accidentally use one of the original measurements instead. And because the tape is on the plastic sheet protector, the original recipe is still preserved for future use.
6. Takeya Actives Water Bottle (32 oz) to stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is key to making it through a day anywhere but especially in a pastry kitchen where ovens run hot and dusty flour clouds are not infrequent. A water bottle with a wide enough mouth for ice cubes, that stays cold for the whole day, and that is completely leak proof if it gets knocked over is crucial.
Takeya's water bottles came highly recommended by Wirecutter and I am obsessed with mine. It has a wide, sturdy base with a gripper bottom which makes it hard to knock over, the spout is easy to drink from and seals tightly, and it truly does keep your water ice cold for the entire day. They come in a range of fun colors too. I preferred the 32 oz size, but they also have 22 and 40 oz options available.
The lid screws on tightly, and the spout has it's own screw-on lid which seals tightly and is connected to the lid with a plastic loop so you don't have to worry about losing it. The lid also has a sturdy plastic loop so you can clip it on to your bag easily.
7. Tide pens to keep your chef coat pristine
White chef coats are white because stains show up on them easily. The idea is that a very good chef is so skilled that they can get through a shift without staining their white coat. But you? You're a newbie! You're a beginner! You're going to get stuff on your coat.
Having a Tide pen on hand means you can prevent stains from setting in before you can get home to bleach your coat.
8. Mini calculator because math is hard
If you have trouble holding numbers in your head or just really hate doing math (same and same), you're going to want a calculator. And yes, your phone has one, but for quizzes and exams where you can't use your phone, or if you just want something small to tuck into your pocket to help you quickly scale recipes up or down, a mini calculator like this is perfect.
9. A set of metal rulers for precise pastry work
No set of pastry school supplies is complete without a set of metal rulers. You need something super sturdy (e.g. not plastic) so that when you're running a pastry wheel down the side the sharp blade doesn't cut into the ruler itself. That's a one-way ticket to getting debris in your food and no one wants that.
The long metal rules are perfect for when you're rolling out large pieces of dough, while the smaller ones are great for cutting puff pastry shapes for vol au vents, hand pies, and more. They're also handy in a pinch when you just need a straight edge for scoring or to make sure your knife cuts are equal distance apart.
10. An extra instant-read thermometer is your best friend
Okay, instant read thermometers were included in our pastry school supplies, but you will literally use yours like 100 times a day. And yes, you will clean yours regularly. But you'll also accidentally send yours through the dishwasher or knock yours on the floor. Depending on what you're doing, the tip will end up coated in hardened caramel or all sorts of other sticky things. So it's a good idea to have an extra one on hand just in case.
11. Tasting spoon-slash-fork so you'll never forget which spoon goes in the food and which goes in your mouth
When you're tasting food in the kitchen you actually don't dip your tasting spoon in the food at all. You use a different spoon to transfer the food onto your tasting spoon. That way the spoon that goes in your mouth never goes in the food. It's far too easy to accidentally confuse the two, which is why the unique design of this spoon-slash-fork is so brilliant.
I didn't have one of these spoon-slash-forks when I was in school but I so wish I had. The fork end is narrow enough to still fit into the pocket on the sleeve of your chef's coat. If you're reading this blog post because you're looking for a gift for a pastry school student, this is a great option.
There are no lunch breaks in pastry school. At least, not at mine. And unlike in savory cooking classes, baked goods aren't really edible until after they're baked... usually nearer to the end of the day. So you'll want to bring lunch. In my classes, we all had different bakes and worked at different paces, so it was on us to snag a few minutes here or there to wolf down some food before getting back to the kitchen.
An insulated bento-style lunchbox stashes neatly inside the communal fridge (and doesn't look like a class project). With just two pieces, bento style lunchboxes are easy to wash in the 3-basin sink (unlike a lunchbox with lots of separate containers or lids inside) and run through the sanitizer before you head home.
You'll probably be issued at least one apron with your pastry school uniform. But the amount of wear and tear you'll put on an apron means you'll definitely want to have backups on hand. I like these ones because they have pockets (!!!), an adjustable neck strap, and extra long ties which means they'll fit any size body.
Keeping your hair out of your face is a must in the kitchen. You'll definitely be issued a standard kitchen cap with your standard pastry school supplies. But if you've got long hair you'll need something to keep your hair securely pulled back. I love these Teleties because they're gentle on the hair, won't tear or damage your hair with repeated use, and don't cut off your circulation if you keep a spare one on your wrist. They come in a variety of sizes and colors, too.
(Disclaimer: I'm a member of Teleties' affiliate program and earn a commission from sales generated through my links which help support the blog. I was not paid to promote Teleties, and I paid for my own Teleties myself. I just really like them!)