On Friday I finished up my gum paste flower wedding cake. We didn’t have a ton of time to work on it, so I scrambled to throw it together. I made a little bouquet with some of the flowers, piped some strings and rosettes using royal meringue icing, and cut some borders out of fondant. I’m not thrilled with it, but hey – it’s only my first wedding cake.
During the chef’s demo that day, he let us sample some cake he made. It was toasted almond with chocolate chips, chocolate ganache filling, and chocolate buttercream. So good!
This week is exams week. Booo! I won’t be blogging about school, but I will be blogging recipes and a book review. I’ll also be featuring some of my classmates from school. I adore all of my classmates and wanted to get to know them better, so I asked a few of them some questions.
Today’s featured student is Melina! Melina is very talented, and good at everything we do in pastry school. I’m serious. She’s just good. She’s particularly great at making birds and roses from pulled sugar, gum paste flowers, and cake decorating. She’s also fast; I remember when we were partners in class and how fast she got everything done. I know she’s going places after school. She can do anything she sets her mind to.
Where is home?
Home is Grand Rapids, Michigan.
I used to attend Michigan State University for Percussion and Music Education.
What made you come to pastry school?
I have always loved the arts through my schooling. Photography, music and culinary arts were always a huge part of my life. They all are still. After leaving MSU for a culinary school in Grand Rapids, my passion was fulfilled. I focused on getting my culinary management degree and quickly received that. I headed then towards the savory side of things, when I saw that pastry arts was more complicated. Pastry school here in Chicago was my next step. I craved a challenge and a sense of focus on the sweeter side of life.
Do you have any secret talents?
My last semester of music school at MSU, I randomly auditioned for the vocal jazz program. (I was debating on a double major.) Besides culinary arts and drumming, I also nailed the audition. I was also in the Grand Rapids Press for two of the top five (out of a thousand entrants) for a summer photo contest a few years back.
What has been your favorite week in school so far and why? Least favorite?
My favorite was by far, Chef En-Ming Hsu - Plated Desserts. She is my role model and someone I strive to become. This woman is such a model for professional women in the French male-based pastry world. Her focus and way of teaching in the classroom is poised and perfect, yet she's able to call attention to the class with her humbling and remarkable culinary attitude. I have no least favorite. Some of the classes have pushed me harder and some of the classes have made me think about my life. Each class holds something to be learned.
What do you want to do after graduation?
I strive to be an intern either at FPS or elsewhere in this never ending culinary world. As being a young absorbing sponge of a Culinarian, I cannot wait to travel and experience all that I can. Hopefully the Ritz Carlton and the Four Seasons will be needing a pastry assistant!
What’s your favorite dessert to eat?
Oh goodness. Probably a really soft chocolate chip cookie sprinkled with sea salt.
What’s something you have learned in pastry school?
You are your own worst enemy. Simply put. Never stop learning. Regardless of age, problems in life, or gender, reach and achieve your best. Prove only to yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to.
-Thank you, Melina! Oh, and I totally agree about the chocolate chip cookie with sea salt. Yum.