Graduates, faculty and staff of The French Pastry School were honored to have guest speakers, White House Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, and Joe Trummer, a Food Scientist with the Sara Lee Corporation, address attendees on June 18 at the graduation ceremony of L’Art de la Pâtisserie, The Professional Pastry and Baking 24-week program at The French Pastry School. The newest group of alumni celebrated with their chef instructors, friends, and family at The Union League Club of Chicago. The ceremony was followed by a grand buffet at the school prepared by the graduates.
Many of the recent graduates, most of whom are new to the pastry industry, will stay in Chicago to work in high-end hotel pastry kitchens like the Hotel Sofitel, and restaurants such as Blackbird, while others will travel across the United States, from California to New York to take internships and full-time positions. Five recently graduated students will work as interns at The French Pastry School, assisting their chef mentors in the full-time programs offered at the school.
In his address, Yosses encouraged the graduates to follow their passion saying “you’ve chosen the right career, you’re on the right path, and you’re coming from the best school. This is the best pastry school in the world,” he emphasized, “and it’s only getting better.” Yosses stressed the importance of maintaining contact with their chef instructors, of being present in and contributing to the community of chefs. He spoke about the power inherent in their work as pastry makers, asking them to recollect the first time they ate a truly excellent dessert made with fresh, all-natural ingredients: “You’re not just making people happy,” he said, “you’re changing their world.”
Trummer, a Food Scientist with the Sara Lee Bakery Research and Development Group, has a background in chemical engineering as well as many years of baking experience. Chef Trummer spoke to the graduates from the perspective of a fellow career changer saying that companies like Sara Lee “want to have people like you to bring innovation to their products.” He also underlined the importance of tenacity and dedication saying “it took several years and a lot of hard work to fulfill the dreams I had.” Trummer along with Sara Lee Corporation sponsor The French Pastry School Scholarship Foundation, For the Love of Chocolate, awarding funds to qualified students in need of financial assistance.
Co-Founder and Dean of Student Affairs, Jacquy Pfeiffer also had words of advice for his students, encouraging them to specialize in a particular area of pastry, highlighting the example of their Chef Instructor Jonathan Dendauw, a Master Baker “who could make bread out of sand.” He also reminded his students not to worry about becoming “rock stars” or the television ratings; “your customers’ ratings are the important ones.” He entrusted a mission to them to become ambassadors for The French Pastry School. “We have this quest,” Pfeiffer said about himself and co-founder Sébastien Canonne, M.O.F., “we want to change the face of pastry in this country.”