The French Pastry School: What was your background previous to pastry and what led you to pursue a pastry education?
Shayla Daniels: I have always been involved in some shape or form with pastry. From a very young age, I helped my grandmother out in the kitchen baking all sorts of desserts. I just graduated from high school in June of 2010 and I was really involved in my school. I am a three time cheerleading state champ and I engaged in numerous volunteer clubs. My love of baking and the science behind it has always drawn my interest. It’s the one major thing in my life that can make me happy no matter what is going on. It is the one thing that I can truly feel proud and boast about. Since I was in elementary school I’ve known that I wanted to either become a pastry chef or a model or both! So there was no doubt in my mind my senior year of high school as to what my next step in life would be: pastry school was my only option and the scholarship I received from For the Love of Chocolate was the only way I could attend!
FPS: What has been the most surprising or eye-opening moment for you so far in the program?
SD: The knowledge and understanding of your ingredients and how they work would have to be the most eye-opening event. Obviously, the better quality ingredients you use the better taste in your end product you will have. But to actually understand what you’re putting into your product and why that it is the best choice for whatever dish you are making is intriguing to me. I love how the chefs went through each ingredient and what it does to your recipe. Also, I was very surprised that I loved plated desserts and all of the thought and preparation that goes behind creating a successful dessert!
FPS: What are your plans following graduation?
SD: Currently, I am in the process of applying for an internship at a bakery in Racine, Wisconsin. If everything works out I will intern there for three months and afterwards get hired on to the staff. Eventually, I would love to study abroad in Paris to further my pastry education. One day, I dream to open my own shop.
FPS: Where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you hope to be?
SD: Five years from now I hope to have travelled to Paris and studied there for at least six months. I would love to be a respected for my hard work and accomplishments. I want to fine-tune my craft and figure out exactly what part of pastry I am best in and be on my way to mastering it. I want to just be happy doing whatever it is that I am doing.
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?
SD: I will always remember the chefs! I feel blessed to have been taught by such passionate and talented chefs. They all have taught me so much and, as cliché as it sounds, changed my life. From the quirky little sayings like, “Tack, tack!”; “It’s done when it’s done,” and, as Chef Jacquy would say in reference to pulling sugar, “For goodness’s sake leave it alone. Don’t touch it while it rests!” I will remember the passion expressed by all of the chefs in their certain areas. Also, the administrative staff was awesome! Anytime I needed anything someone was there to help assist me. I’m sure some of them got tired of seeing my face! Overall, The French Pastry School helped me realize how deep of a love of pastry I have. They really brought out all of the talents that I did not even know I possessed! Things that I thought were impossible to ever achieve, I have achieved here, and, through everything, I was supported by everyone. I learned that with a little hard work and dedication you can blow people away with your work and you can have fun doing it!