French Pastry School: What was your background previous to studying pastry and what led you to pursue an education in pastry?
Barbara Henker: I never really did any kind of formal training or schooling in the pastry field until attending The French Pastry School. I have had a love of cooking and baking since I can remember. I love looking through my grandmother’s recipes of things she used to bake and trying to recreate what she did. A lot of what she made was handed down to her and is old German or Swedish recipes. I wanted to pursue a career in pastry to gain more knowledge and to become better at baking. I also wanted to improve my life and be able to have an actual career in a field that I enjoyed.
FPS: What was the most surprising or eye-opening moment for you so far in the program?
BH: Honestly everything that I learned and went through during the entire six months has been eye-opening. Watching the amazing talent of all the chefs at the school along with just being taught by the best chefs in the world was something that I found incredibly awesome every day I was there.
FPS: What are your plans for after graduation?
BH: Well I want to be able to get more experience in what I had learned at school and hopefully in 5 years I will feel ready to open my own bakery. That’s been a dream of mine for a very long time.
FPS: Where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you hope to be?
BH: Hopefully in 5 years I'll be opening up my own bakery with my children. My son also attended The French Pastry School with me and we hope to make that dream a reality down the road. I want to gain as much knowledge and experience as I can in the meantime so I feel better prepared when the time comes to open my own bakery.
I hope that one day I will be a successful pastry chef and someone that my kids will remember as never giving up on their dreams no matter what your age or what obstacles you have to overcome.
FPS: In the future, what will you look back on and remember most vividly about your time as a student at The French Pastry School?
BH: I owe it to all the chefs and everyone there at the school in helping us achieve our goal. Being there at the school gave us the encouragement to just keep going when personal obstacles threatened to overwhelm us. The chefs were all amazing and never made you feel like you couldn’t make it, it was always, "Yes, you can and you will!" I have such a great respect for the chefs and all of the people that are a part of that amazing school. I am proud to say that I am a French Pastry School graduate and I will never regret attending the school no matter how hard it was to be away from home in Ohio during that difficult time in our family. I met a lot of wonderful people and have a lot of great memories being at the school.
The second thing that will also stand out in my memory will be the fundraiser For The Love of Chocolate. That was the greatest thing to be a part of, especially as a scholarship recipient! It was a long hard day but at the end it was something that I was so happy I got to be a part of. I hope in the future to keep being a part of it whether it’s volunteering to help with the set up or enjoying the food.
I’m so thankful that I was given the opportunity to be a part of all of it and will always be appreciative to everyone that helped me get to where I am and will be.