Minita Bohra, Pastry Arts April 2013 Graduate
While preparing for a master’s program in engineering, Minita Bohra began baking at home for her husband. While satisfying his sweet tooth she discovered her own creativity – from initial sketch to final product – through creating pastries. Inspired to do something she loved, Bohra enrolled in the Pastry Arts program (April 2013) and today is externing with one of the country’s premier cake shops. We spoke with her before she left about how she landed such a prestigious externship with New Jersey’s Pink Cake Box.
Escoffier: How did you find out about Pink Cake Box and how did you get an externship?
Bohra: I am interested in [pursuing] cake decoration, so I was looking at the top ten cake decoration boutiques and they are in the top five. I followed them on YouTube for tips or [tutorials] and I thought of applying. They liked my résumé and my blog and they asked me to come in for a stage. It was on a Monday (in New Jersey) from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. They asked me to do various tasks and to make a couple of things like a buttercream and a meringue. And they saw my piping skills.
Escoffier: Were you nervous, having to make things on the spot?
Bohra: Yes, I was. It was my first time working in a professional kitchen. I had always done my cooking in school and at home. But, I was confident enough because we were taught everything (all the basics) in school.
Escoffier: Did you do anything special to prepare for that working interview?
Bohra: Before my stage, I went to a couple of my chefs (at school) and they helped me prepare. I asked Chef Ashley Tobeck for advice on how to manage the day-of-trial. She told me to make a floor plan of the kitchen so I knew where to find stuff. Chef Dan helped me prepare with the baking things, all the stuff related to cakes, like methods and temperatures, to get prepared and to practice at home.
Escoffier: How did it go?
Bohra: I was really nervous before entering the shop, but after that, when I could do all the stuff [that they asked], I was happy. I thanked Chef Dan. He was very strict with us on methods; I could remember what I needed to do! It is crazy in a professional kitchen – a lot of noise, a lot of people – it was a different experience for me, but I did it!
Escoffier: Do you have any advice to share with students who are seeking an externship?
Bohra: Apply, apply, apply. If you want to get a place you desire, you should have lots of options open. Make use of social media. I created a blog and made contacts through LinkedIn and Facebook. (Editor’s note: In the end, Bora had four externship offers to choose from and went with her first choice at Pink Cake Box.)
Escoffier: Tell us about your blog and what role it played when applying for externships.
Bohra: My blog was a simple one. I posted exciting stuff we baked in the school and other home projects. [Along with photos] I wrote a couple of sentences about the things I experimented with and learned about in the school. Writing a blog was really helpful. Chef Dan had asked us to start one. I really enjoyed blogging because I learned how to phrase words (English is not my first language), to use those terminologies of baking. It is really beneficial to keep records of your past for when you want to show people what you are capable of doing. I gave other chefs the blog address when applying for jobs so they could see [my work]. It was really helpful and I’m really enjoying it so I will keep adding the new experiments I do.
Escoffier: Any ideas on what is next after your externship?
Bohra: After I’m done I’ll be moving back to India where I am from. I talked to Chef Fabien Fayolle, Executive Pastry Chef at Armani Hotel Dubai; I’ll most likely plan to join him there in January 2014.
Escoffier: So exciting! Is there anything else you want to share with us?
Bohra: Starting at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts was a great experience and everyone was really helpful. It was also good fun: learning, baking, eating! My friends had a lot of fun too! (Laughing, referring to her friends’ ability to taste her creations.)