November 15, 2013

Student Spotlight: Monica Paredes

2013-11-15_1243Monica Paredes started the Pastry Arts program here in Austin back in April of 2013 and from the very beginning, we knew she would succeed. Monica is completing her externship now and has had the opportunity to work with three different highly acclaimed chefs in the culinary industry. Read below to see what Monica has to say about her experience in the Pastry Arts program and how a little determination can go a very long way!

“For nearly two decades I had worked successfully as a corporate communications and marketing consultant. With the help of my supportive family, I decided to make the leap into pursuing my lifelong dream of becoming a pastry chef and started class on April 22nd, 2013. After visiting several schools, I was most impressed by the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts because of its small class sizes, intensive labs, business focus and knowledgeable staff. As a working wife and mom, the Baking and Pastry Arts schedule was a perfect fit for me.

I began my externship on October 3rd, the day after the program academics ended, by assisting award-winning Chef David Bull and his team at the Austin City Limits festival. Working both weekends was an invaluable learning experience on so many levels. I also volunteered to help Chef Bull at the March of Dimes Signature Chefs event and was able to meet new people and acquire even more skills.

Throughout the six months of academics I researched various top restaurants in Austin and was determined to work with acclaimed chefs in the industry for my externship. I reached out to my network on LinkedIn and Facebook to see if anyone had any contacts or suggestions for the places I was considering. Luckily a friend in New York City connected me to Chefs Jessica Maher and Todd Duplechan at Lenoir, currently rated one of Austin’s best restaurants and already on the top of my list. Although they were not looking for interns, I contacted them and was given a position as a pastry cook assisting the Pastry Sous Chef. In this role I have been able to do an amazing variety of things within this farm-to-table eatery, including making all the components for the evening dessert service, to witnessing ordering and receiving processes, menu planning and recipe development, and even helping with culinary prep at times. Although the skills I acquired from my program have helped me to be successful in this role, I am so grateful for the connection with my instructors, whom I can call on any time I have questions or need guidance.

Most recently I worked with an award-winning pastry chef, whose work I have long admired. Once again, relying on my network, I was connected with Chef Laura Sawicki and was able to help her prepare her signature desserts for the VIP area at Meatopia, hosted by the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio.

Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts offered the opportunity to work with Chef Bull and I was eager to volunteer. However, my excellent baking education and the empowering and supportive Chef Instructors in my program are ultimately what have given me the confidence to reach for the next level. Success in this industry requires a strong work ethic, persistence, innovation, connection, and good communication. My instructors encouraged me to create the opportunities I could not otherwise find. I am excited about my new career after I graduate. Some fellow Escoffier alumni and I are working in partnership to build a much needed establishment here in Austin. Also, I have begun work to organize global gastronomic trips to culinary meccas featuring well-known chefs, who will be leading the cooking classes. I am so grateful for my education at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts and all the doors it has opened for this next chapter of my life.”