By: Ryan Hodros, Pastry and Culinary Arts Student
For the second installment of New Perspectives, I sat down to lunch with Rose McPherson, another of my classmates in the Pastry Arts program. Her nickname in class was “Mad Dog” as a joke because she’s such a positive person, she never got angry even during face-paced, high-stress periods in class. Rose currently works at the Empire Lounge in Louisville and is at the start of what will no doubt be an impressive career in the culinary industry.
Why did you get into the Pastry Arts?
Well, it’s mostly because I’ve always wanted to work in a kitchen. I was in ProStart in high school, and after I graduated, I started off wanting to be in [the Culinary Arts Program] but I decided that Pastry was a much better fit. It’s much more methodical and thought out. But I also wanted something more like a day job where I’d be able to work all day in the kitchen, then come home and make dinner for the family. The schedule on the culinary side of the kitchen isn’t conducive to that, by my understanding.
What made you pick Escoffier?
[She laughs before she can answer] My sister, to be honest. I’m really close with my family, and they all knew I wanted to go to a pastry school that was local so I could stay near them, not terribly expensive, and not long. I really didn’t want to go to school for like three years. Escoffier’s program runs just fast enough to be challenging without skimping on what I learned, so I guess they found me the right fit.
What was your favorite part of Pastry School?
I really liked plating with Chef Jon. Before [that block of curriculum], I wanted to work in a bakery making cupcakes or something like that, but it really made me shift my thinking. I started to really want to do plated pastry work in the kitchen because it’s a really amazing artistic outlet, and that really appealed to me.
What was your least favorite part of Pastry School?
I really didn’t like bread, from start to finish. I tried very hard to keep an open mind, but I just never found a way to like it. I think it’s because I’m not patient enough. I’m the kind of person that has trouble putting off a job to do other things and come back. I tend to stay focused on one task until it’s finished. I did find the science of bread making, with the yeast growth and keeping your dough at the optimal temperature and all that. But I don’t know, I just don’t love to eat bread, and if you don’t, you probably won’t like making it.
What are your plans for the future?
Right now I’m working at the Empire Lounge in Louisville, but I really want to get out and see the world. I’m still young, and so I’m looking for opportunities to travel and work and really build a resume that will raise people’s eyebrows. I’m currently looking into working on a Cruise ship in their pastry kitchen, which I think will be a really great fit. I’ve never really been outside the country, and I’m starting to get the travel bug pretty bad.
Many students stress about finding an externship. How did you go about finding yours?
It was really difficult at the start. I honestly tried to do it by myself and I didn’t know what I was doing. When I went to career services, it got much easier. They know a lot more about who is hiring in the area and what’s going on in the industry than most students do. When you’re in class and working [like I was] it’s really hard to find time to research these things. Once I went to career services, it became significantly easier.
What’s your favorite thing to make?
[Laughs again, a little harder this time.] Oddly enough, it’s pasta. Chef Suzanne taught us pasta at one point in class, and so I got a taste for it in school. But at [the Empire Lounge] they had me doing it for a couple of weeks and I loved it. Ravioli, gnocchi, all of it…they’re fun to work with and the dough is very forgiving. The only thing I don’t like is it’s time consuming, but when you’re at work, what else are you going to do?
Do you have any cool stories to share?
I don’t know how cool it is, but the most fun I had was during cake week. We were split in two groups, and the other group was doing this really elegant, really traditional white-on-white wedding cake, but our group decided to make a Super Mario Bros cake and I’m glad we did. I got to flex my artistic talent, making a little cartoon Princess Peach and making all the little decorations that we used…I was really proud of our work, and it was a lot of fun. I surprised a lot of people with my artistic talent, and that was nice too!
What advice do you have to share with future students?
Go into class with an open mind. You’ll be making and trying a lot of weird things you’ve never tried before, but don’t let it scare you. Also, on the first day, Chef Suzanne told us to leave our ego at the door, and that is great advice. If you go in thinking you know everything, it’ll hurt you in the long run. Don’t wait to start looking for your externship. Build your resume early and always think about where you want to be. Focus on the task of hand, but keep your future in the back of your mind at all times. It’ll go a long way towards keeping your career focused.