French Pastry School: What was your background previous to studying pastry and what led you to pursue an education in pastry?
Madeline Sharkey: Art was my life previous to pastry school, in the form of dance and painting. I have been dancing since the age of five and it became my life once I began teaching classes at my dance studio. I was also thoroughly involved in art throughout high school. My school days were consumed by drawing, ceramics, painting, and art metals classes. Although dance was my utmost passion, I knew that I wanted to pursue art as a career. I decided about two years ago, that my art would be in the form of a cake! I am still taking dance classes often, but am now fostering a new passion in pastry.
FPS: What was the most surprising or eye-opening moment for you so far in the program?
MS: My most eye-opening moment in the program was when my perfect, completed lemon cream tart smashed on the floor, face down, in the middle of my exam. As Chef Jacquy told all of us the first day, "There’s no freaking out in pastry". I shut up the terrible thoughts in my head with a deep breath, cleaned it up, and with a little hustle turned in a lovely lemon cream tart. Although I have many, larger mistakes to come, I think this particular day will always keep my feet in the ground.
FPS: What are your plans for after graduation?
MS: I was thrilled to be able to use the For the Love of Chocolate scholarship to enroll in L’Art du Gâteau at The French Pastry School after graduating from L’Art de la Pâtisserie. After completing the cake program, I plan to return to Milwaukee and find a job in a bakery while creating my own cakes and building an image portfolio. I am also considering the Entrepreneurship Program offered at UW Milwaukee. After that I want to continue to gain experience around the country, dancing along the way. I am young and excited to see where I end up!
FPS: Where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you hope to be?
MS: Five years from now I see myself still traveling and practicing the art of pastry and cakes. All this experience will ultimately benefit me and my pursuit to own my own cake shop. I would love to work with people and clients and, of course, make my own decisions! I want to offer original designs, inventive ideas, and gluten-free options.
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?
MS: From my time at The French Pastry School I will most vividly remember the amazing people and cultures that have entered my life. I don't know where else you'll find a Mexican, Colombian, Canadian, Filipino, and people from all over the United States in one small classroom. I have gained knowledge and insight from around the world that I will not find anywhere else. We all have.