French Pastry School: What was your background previous to pastry, and what led you to pursue a pastry education?
Lisa Ross: I started working as a front of the house person, a.k.a. “store girl” at age 16. It was my first job, and I did everything: waited on customers, took orders, scraped floors, washed pans, and packed donut orders at 4am. Then they taught me how to decorate cakes when I was about 18, and I never looked back! I had other jobs, but I always held part time jobs as a cake decorator. Once I had my children nine years ago, I was out of the work force until last year (2011). I started a little side business doing cakes for friends and others, just to keep up my skills intact and to make money while I was home. When I got my job last year (I work as a cake decorator in a supermarket bakery) I felt like I needed to be more well rounded. Plus, I had wanted to attend The French Pastry School since I had learned of its opening over a decade ago. This was like a dream come true for me.
FPS: What has been the most surprising or eye-opening moment for you so far in the program?
LR: It would be the intricacies of bread baking. There are so many factors to consider when making a loaf of bread. It takes lots of patience, but it’s so satisfying to see the results at the end.
FPS: What are your plans following graduation?
LR: Sleep. Ha! No, I’ll go back to my current job as a cake decorator, and also have the added responsibility of filling our pastry case at work. I have some ideas now! I also will keep doing cakes on the side.
FPS: Where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you hope to be?
LR: Five years older, and my kids will be as well, so I’ll be able to have a little more time to dedicate to work since they will be more self sufficient. It would be nice to work with a caterer and create sweet tables/desserts. I think I would enjoy that, and of course keep doing kids’ cakes. I love watching a child’s face when they see that cake I’ve created. You can’t beat that joy.
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?
LR: The fun I had and the humor and humility and wisdom of the Chefs. That wisdom is invaluable. I learned so much in a short time, and the best thing is that I had so much fun doing it. The Chefs create a learning environment that has its serious, instructional side, but also infused with some levity, and for me that’s essential. Let’s face it, eating should be joyful, especially sweets! And we all could use more joy and sweetness in our lives.