Ever since I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed working in the kitchen. There is just something magical about taking a bunch of singular ingredients and combining them to create a sweet or savory concoction. As I grew older, I found that I truly enjoyed the science of baking. Whenever something was stressing me out, I’d find myself in the kitchen with a trusted cookbook at hand and end up making enough pastry for a large crowd. Alternately, whenever there was something to celebrate – a birthday, a promotion or any holiday, I would also be happily working in the kitchen making sure that there were sweet & savory pastries for all to celebrate. I never found myself lacking friends in my academic or corporate days!
Like many of my collegues in the culinary world, my path to the kitchen professionally was far from direct. In December 1999, I graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Business Administration as a Marketing specialist. Although my first few jobs kept me in the nutmeg state, it wasn’t long before I found myself moving to the garden state of New Jersey – first for love, and then for what was to be nine years in various corporate marketing jobs in New York City.
After getting married and settling into my first New York City job, I found myself longing to find something that I could do to express my creative side and started to think that maybe I should check out some culinary programs. Luckily, I found The French Culinary Institute and discovered that I could take night classes in Pastry Arts and still keep my day job. So, that’s exactly what I did. For nine months, I was immersed in pastry three nights a week and couldn’t have been happier. And then I found myself working in pastry full-time … um, if only it were that simple!
In December 2004, I graduated from FCI and moved into our new house. Just like many other new homeowners, we had scrimped and saved all we could to put a down payment on our house, so that left Jay & I with a lot of expensive new bills to pay, and also meant I couldn’t quite leave the corporate world just yet. But, in classic Jen-style, I couldn’t just shelve my passion for pastry while I was working like a dog and working my way up the corporate ladder.
At every desk I’ve sat in after college, I always had my Sweet Element business cards right beside my corporate business cards and marketed my cakes, chocolates & cookies to my coworkers and their friends & families. Over the past five years, numerous weekends, holidays, ‘vacations’, and many, many nights have been spent in my kitchen creating commissioned pieces for clients as well as experimenting with new recipes and techniques.
So how did I decide to make the leap into pastry full time? Although it took slightly longer than I had hoped, and oddly enough during the middle of an economic crisis, Jay & I have finally gotten ourselves in a much better financial place, granting me freedom from corporate America and money to finally set up my own cake & chocolate studio!
How can you contact me?