French Pastry School: What was your background previous to pastry, and what led you to pursue a pastry education?
Sandy Bierlein: I was an avid home baker and cake decorator without any formal training. My day-to-day job was underwriting insurance, and when I got home and put the kids to bed, I would turn my kitchen upside-down baking and decorating. It was my way to unwind and cultivate my artistic side. I realized that pastry was my calling and I needed to pursue it full-time. I enrolled in L’Art de la Pâtisserie program in July, 2010.
FPS: What was the most eye-opening moment for you so far in the program?
SB: There were so many eye-opening moments at The French Pastry School. Every day gave a new lesson and supplied a new tool for my ‘pastry belt’. One thing that I have been so pleased to know is that you don't necessarily need exotic or difficult-to-find ingredients – just high quality ingredients. The best recipes start with the basics: flour, sugar, eggs, and water. Oftentimes, the more involved recipes are simply basic building blocks combined.
FPS: What are your plans following graduation?
SB: I am lucky enough to have a position lined up post-graduation. I will be working for a fellow alumna of L’Art de la Pâtisserie at The French Pastry School, Courtney Clark, at her shop, Cake Nouveau in Ann Arbor, Michigan. While there I will be learning under her guidance and enhancing my education from FPS. It’s wonderful to be able to continue learning from someone who received the same initial pastry education I did, and who’s done great things with her education.
FPS: Where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you hope to be?
SB: I hope to continue decorating cake and baking. At that point I hope to have established myself enough that I can become a true partner at a cake/bake shop and continue to focus on my career in pastry while still being a good mother to my kids.
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?
SB: Truthfully, the laughter. When I recollect everything that has happened during the last six months, I always get a smile on my face. It is a rare situation to be with a group of people who are all driven by the same unifying passion. I know we all appreciated what we were learning and why we were there. And we did laugh - a lot.