I am a professionally trained pastry chef and graduate (with distinction) of the Pastry Arts Program at L'Academie de Cuisine Culinary School in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Before culinary school, I worked in the legal field as a commercial real estate paralegal by day, and by night, I was flying by the seat of my pants as a caterer. Only two short years of catering fed my passion for the culinary world! So I quit my day job and I went back to school -- culinary school -- and pastry school at that! I have to also admit that the thought of being able to make French pastries like the ones I had savored in France many years prior left me all the more enthusiastic to become a pastry chef. It was the best decision I ever made!
While in culinary school, I completed three stages at Jackie's Restaurant and Corcoran Caterers, both in Silver Spring, Maryland, and at Victoria's Gastro Pub in Columbia, Maryland. I also interned at Chef's Expressions Catering in Baltimore under the tutelage of its brilliant executive pastry chef and upon graduating culinary school, I was hired by Chef's Expressions to work directly under Chef David's brilliance.
The pastry arts requires a different skill set from those of the savory arts. One has to be more adept to food science, ratios, time, and temperature - not to mention the art of delicacy and dexterity. Chef David was an excellent teacher of it all! I left Chef's Expressions after just one year to take on a chef instructor position at a local supermarket chain. That experience sealed in my fate to teach. I've been teaching (and learning) ever since.
In many West African countries like Sierra Leone (where I hail from), supermarkets were mainly stocked with imported foods and everyday sundries. You could either go to market to purchase fresh produce or grow it in your own backyard. Meat was sold by the butcher, and fish by the fishmonger right off the wharf as the catch of the day was being brought to shore in fishing boats. Fresh bread was baked three times a day by the baker. Everyone was an artisan of something! Everyone cooked with fresh ingredients everyday and we always knew where our food came from, because each one of those artisans grew, cultivated, or harvested their respective products. This artisan way of life, connection to our food source and growers, and discriminating taste for the finest ingredients is what defines me as a chef and cook, and passion is what drives me.