The French Pastry School: What was your background previous to pastry, and what led you to pursue a pastry education?
Loni Diep: I have an undergraduate degree in Graphic Design and a graduate degree in Bookbinding and Papermaking. At every job I have previously worked I have been infamous for bringing baked goods, and I have been told by previous bosses when they are on a diet, I am not allowed to bring sweets or talk about food…which leaves me with not much to talk about. On my days off, I would sell baked goods at craft fairs and do catering for various art organizations, which I meet through promoting my artwork from graduate school. A few years ago I decided to work at The Spice House to take a step towards working in the food world and learn more about flavors. Much like understanding color in art, understanding flavors is imperative in creating a captivating dessert. I also grew up with a father who was a baker in a grocery store. Since baking has been constantly running in the background of my life, I had decided it’s time to bring it to the foreground.
FPS: What has been the most surprising or eye-opening moment for you so far in the program?
LD: The amount of product one can produce in 6 months. At some point your friends and coworkers get sick of the constant stream of sweets. I have definitely become the anti-diet among my friends. The program went surprisingly fast even though it was an intense, often overwhelming, amount of work. But, I feel that it will all sink in once I am practicing in the professional world.
FPS: What are your plans following graduation?
LD: I will be working full time for Hoosier Mama Pie Company starting June 28th, which is the day after graduation. I have known about Hoosier Mama Pies since they first had their little stand at the Lincoln Park farmers market and would sell out of pies before noon. I was so excited to see them at The French Pastry School job fair, and feel very lucky to land a job in a company I have admired for years.
FPS: Where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you hope to be?
LD: Honestly, for both previous careers as graphic designer and bookbinder I have always had a very detailed plan on what my future should be, but I have never been happy with the calculated results. So this time, I have decided to follow my passions and let what may come influence where I will end up. I will continue to make edible books and continue to take my passion for art and baking and combine them in every way my crazy little mind can think of. I plan on staging and interning on my days off at places where I love their products, to continue to learn from professionals and experience varying kitchen environments. Through my continued pursuit of knowledge and skill in baking and pastry, I hope to discover the right path for me.
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?
LD: The great kitchens, equipment room, and abundance of quality ingredients. Carrying home large chocolate, sugar, and cake sculptures on the train and getting funny looks. The amazing smells constantly coming from the ovens, especially when the chefs make something not class related, like bacon and onion bread. The chocolate sculptures infusing my entire apartment with the smell of chocolate for days. The few amazing friends I met and the times after school we spent exploring downtown finding tasty foods.