The French Pastry School: What was your background previous to pastry, and what led you to pursue a pastry education?
Allison Gundlach: Before venturing into pastry, my background included the French language and Art History. I had studied abroad in college and went back to France after graduating to teach English in two high schools, one of which was a professional or trade school where I assisted a culinary class. I really enjoyed watching the students in action and found a great friend and mentor in the instructor, Pascal. I was unhappy with my other classes and a bit homesick, so I began cooking and baking in my spare time. I had so much fun trying new recipes and really got into my creations which sparked a desire to learn more. I had heard of The French Pastry School, decided to apply, and the rest is history.
FPS: What has been the most surprising or eye-opening moment for you so far in the program?
AG: So many things have surprised me in the best way possible, but especially how the organizational skills and discipline that we learn in class permeate other areas of our lives - at work and even at home. I was also pleasantly surprised by how approachable and friendly the chefs are. Originally I was so nervous and intimidated to be taught by a Meilleur Ouvrier de France and Pastry World Champions, but all of the chefs were so kind and always willing to answer questions or give help when needed. They really do their all to provide constructive criticism and encouragement to everyone as much as possible.
FPS: What are your plans following graduation?
AG: After graduation I hope to find a full-time job in the pastry field, but mainly I want to continue learning, practicing, and improving my pastry skills. I haven’t decided which area of pastry I would like to focus on yet, so I hope to gain more experience and maybe find a potential specialty.
FPS: Where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you hope to be?
AG: In five years, I see myself working full-time in the pastry field, maybe a bakery or hotel. I do see myself exploring the United States and maybe even returning to Bordeaux – my husband’s hometown. I hope to be happy and to keep learning as much as possible every single day. Maybe in the very distant future I’ll be competing for a title myself!
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?
AG: I will never be able to forget the people that were a part of this experience with me – my classmates and the incredible chefs. It took some time to get used to the rigorous schedule of class in the morning and then work in the afternoon/evening, but we supported each other every morning and usually made each other laugh. Then there were the chefs, with their encouragement and stories. I’m sure they taught us more than they know, and I’ll be forever grateful. So many wonderful people will be brought to mind when I look back on my time at The French Pastry School.