The French Pastry School: What was your background previous to pastry, and what led you to pursue a pastry education?
Crystal Chiu:Prior to attending The French Pastry School, I lived in Washington, D.C. and was heavily involved in politics. My background is in communications and public relations, and I worked for political luminaries such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama.
Through my previous work experience, I realized what my strengths were and they correlated very well with requirements for a kitchen: organization, speed, attention to detail, and physical work. And with a brief, yet impactful stint at a local D.C. bakery, I recognized that a kitchen is where I belonged and that I craved a more creative and hands-on outlet as a career.
FPS: What has been the most surprising or eye-opening moment for you so far in the program?
CC: The most surprising aspect about the school I never expected was how approachable the chefs were, from the chef instructors to Chefs Jacquy and Sébastien themselves. They are also more connected in the industry than I ever thought possible. Put the two together and the chefs were there for me when I was in search of a job and helped put me in touch with the right people.
FPS: What are your plans following graduation?
CC: I am moving to New York City to start as a pastry cook at Restaurant Daniel, Daniel Boulud’s 3-Michelin Star restaurant. I am very excited to continue training under the best and learning how to move quicker and work more efficiently in a high-caliber kitchen such as Daniel.
FPS: Where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you hope to be?
CC: In five years I hope to be adequately trained and well-versed in French pastry technique. I know my pastry point of view will shift to a more modern vision in time, but to me, all basics are grounded in French technique and I want to make sure I can master them before developing my own version of pastry in a restaurant.
At this point of my life, I would also hope to be a sous chef to a chef with a brilliant mind for pastry. I know I can only keep learning in this industry and aim to search for those willing to teach and challenge me into becoming a great pastry chef 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?
CC: As a gateway into my second career, I made sure to hold nothing back while attending The French Pastry School—attentiveness, promptness, teamwork, a positive attitude and fallibility. With that, I was rewarded with attention, care and answers. If the school sees that you care, they care. I haven’t always experienced that in previous work environments, so I very much treasure the fact that I am in an industry that will, and it all started at The French Pastry School and For the Love of Chocolate.