Where are you from? What was your childhood like?
I was born in Los Angeles. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, a very rural area. They had horses when I was a child. I used to spend hours and hours just riding my horse up in the hills. I have two sisters, and we had a big group of kids in my neighborhood and we all just used to ride our horses or play. It was really ideal.
What were you doing when you were 17?
When I was seventeen, I graduated from high school. My parents sent me on a trip to Europe, mainly Western Europe in the British Isles. I fell in love with the pastries in Austria; it had a huge impact on me. I think I spent more time going from bakery to bakery than anything else. Seeing those old medieval buildings and the different cultures and traditions really made a mark on me.
Did you ever imagine yourself as a pastry chef or a baker?
I always loved to cook. In fact, one of the first things I can remember is when I was twelve, we went on vacation to my aunt’s house in Oregon. She showed me how to make homemade black raspberry jam and biscuits. After that, every Saturday for two years I would make homemade biscuits. Looking back on it, I think that it was really an indication of something I really loved to do. I actually didn’t know what I really wanted to do until I was in my 20s, and then I decided I wanted to be a chef. From being a chef, I went over to pastry and became a pastry chef.
Any funny stories in your career?
Years ago, I worked for two celebrity chefs in Los Angeles. We used to make everything from scratch. Part of my responsibility as the pastry chef was to take the inventory of everything in the walk-in to get the day going. We have gotten live escargot the day before, and we had to get the toxins out of them so we put them in a bucket of water. Well, somebody forgot to put the lid on the bucket. I walked in, and there were snails EVERYWHERE, on the walls, in everything.
Why do you like your job?
I think a lot of it is very nurturing. I am a mom, my son’s grown up, and this is my way to connect to all of you kids. You’re away from home, and it kind of gives me a little role of the mom, making something special for you guys, so that’s a big part of it for me.
Anything else to add?
I love working here at Thacher, it’s such a wonderful environment. All the students are great, and the staff is so supportive. I feel very lucky to be part of this community.