I talk the school up quite a bit in this blog, with good reason I would argue. But for the skeptical out there, I thought it might be a good idea to introduce prospective students to others like me. Today I’m going to introduce you to one of my classmates in the Pastry Arts Program, Genevieve Dodd. Genevieve is currently working at Tee & Cakes in Boulder as a baker, cake decorator, and barista. She’s one of the most talented people I’ve worked with, and it was fun getting back in touch in order to interview her.
Why did you get into the pastry arts?
First of all, my love of eating pastries. I love dessert. It makes me happy to eat, it makes me happy to prepare, it makes me happy to research. You’re giving people something that makes them happy. So it seemed fitting to turn that into a career.
What made you pick Escoffier?
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t because I love Boulder and wanted to stay here. But honestly, it’s because of my admissions advisor. I was on their website and wanted more information, and Greg [Johnson] called the next day. He asked a bunch of good questions like “why do you want to get into the culinary field?” and “where do you want your career to go?” He was very supportive from the get go. I felt like, at [Escoffier] I wouldn’t be a number, I’d be a student they were genuinely trying to teach. Which made it a great fit!
What was your favorite part of Pastry School?
I really liked the opportunity to have multiple chef instructors. Though it was stressful and I hated saying goodbye to my chefs, it gave a real experience. You’ll work for multiple chefs in the industry, so it’s a great start. Plus, you gain multiple perspectives on different techniques, which is incredibly helpful. I think I learned the most from that.
What was your least favorite part of Pastry School?
I think it was that, and I guess it comes in any school, but not everyone [in class] had the dedication I did. I was so excited and was so eager to become a great chef and learn as much as I could, and working with people who didn’t feel the same way was tough. But I learned to adapt and it became another challenge to overcome.
What are your plans for the future?
Well, immediately find a job in pastry, obviously. Although I learned a lot in school, I’m still fresh in the industry and I recognize I still have a ton to learn. What I want most is to work under a skilled chef where I can learn as much as I can, in as many fields as I can. I want to learn as many facets of the industry as I can.
Many students stress about finding an externship. Do you have any externship stories?
While a lot of my classmates had to send out a ton of emails in order to find an externship, I only emailed Tee & Cakes [where I’m currently working]. Two weeks later, I got an email back for an interview, and they hired me the next day. I feel really blessed, because I know it’s usually much more difficult than that and I’m glad it worked out.
The actual job felt very much like jumping in the deep end. You learn a lot in school, but the pace is so much faster in the industry, it’s a lot of hard work. It’s scary, but you learn so fast it’s totally worth it. It’s been a great opportunity and I learned a ton in just eight weeks. I’m stoked to learn even more while I’m there.
What’s your favorite thing to bake?
One of the things I loved about school was that I learned how to make different things that I had no idea—breads, tarts, we even made pasta with Chef Suzanne at one point. It’s great learning new things. But my favorite thing to bake is pie. They really resonate with me. My nickname is Mama G, so I think the Mama G in me wants to make things filled with nurturing and kindness and then sharing it with the people I love.
Do you have any cool stories to share?
My favorite, I guess, was during our first big test. We had to make a fruit tart, pate a choux (cream puff dough), and pumpkin muffins, all in four hours. That would be easy for me now, but we had just started, and I don’t test so great anyway, and it was just very stressful. Anyway, as I finished baking off my cream puffs (which turned out great, by the way), I went to put them up on the speed rack and accidentally knocked Jazmin’s [a classmate] cream puffs all over the ground. As Chef decided what to do about it, I whispered to Tressa [another classmate] “I’m gonna throw up!” It turned out just fine though. Jazmin got to use my cream puffs for her test and I had to do another batch. No problem.
What advice do you have to share with future students?
Every chef that taught me said to keep every recipe I learn in school ever. Keep it nice in a laminated slip and organized so you’ll be able to find them easily. Then at the end of the course, you can find your recipes easily. I never did that, and I wish I had because it becomes really important for your career and in the industry.
Other than that, I would say to try and have fun. It’s easy to get wound up in the stress of tests and notes and that, but so much of food is fun and about having fun. So, though I know it’s ironic [because I stressed out so badly] try to not get too stressed out.
Genevieve’s got a great career ahead of her. Her positive attitude and thirst for more knowledge will take her far, and it all started at Escoffier. I’m glad she and I are friends and it was a pleasure interviewing her.