“I have so many people to be thankful for,” said Violet Orellana, reflecting on her experience as a French Pastry School student and a recipient of a For the Love of Chocolate Foundation scholarship. With a varied professional background, Violet had been working in a law office for 14 years before enrolling in L’Art de la Pâtisserie in January, 2010.
Violet’s experience in the food industry already included entrepreneurial enterprising when in 1987, she, her mother, and sister ran a business in Whiting, Indiana where they sold homemade muffins and other pastries as well as soups and other savory items. The onset of the Gulf War in 1990 impacted the local economy significantly, and made it difficult for Violet and her family to continue their business. “Here I am 20 years later going back to baking. Baking has always been important in my family.”
"I never had something that tasted so good. I couldn't believe it. At that moment, I started thinking about attending the 24-week program."
Her plan to pursue her dream began when she attended a French Pastry Experience in 2006 where Violet observed Chef Sébastien Canonne, M.O.F. make a kougelhopf, an occasion she says she’ll always remember. “I never had something that tasted so good. I couldn’t believe it. At that moment, I started thinking about attending the 24-week program.” She remembers getting her tool kit on the first day of class and thinking in amazement, “I’m actually here.” She found the six-hours-a-day education encouraging while challenging, feeling appreciative to have such great instructors. She recalled some words of Chef Joshua Johnson that particularly resonated with her, when he said “you have to confront your fears and go for it. Don’t be afraid.”
After graduating from the program, Violet felt ready to meet the demands of the industry, and confident in her choice of pastry as a professional and creative path. She commented on the romantic notion some may have about being a pastry professional: “It’s not just making pastries all day – it helps you to be more organized in other areas of your life.” Violet expressed her genuine gratitude toward the Foundation, the school, her Chef Instructors, and her fellow 15 classmates from whom she learned a great deal about collaborating in the kitchen. She deemed her six months at The French Pastry School to be “one of the best experiences of my life; I’m so glad I took this step.” Presently, Violet is developing her business of making wedding cakes and pastries. She also plans to continue her education through additional professional courses and offerings at The French Pastry School.