How long have you worked at Lunds and Byerly’s?
More than 14 years! I began my career with Lunds and Byerly’s at age 15 as a bagger and cashier. While in college a position became available in the bakery department and I jumped at the opportunity. There were so many new and exciting challenges in this role that I decided to put my schooling on hold. I have never regretted this decision. I went on to become a cake decorator, pastry chef apprentice and then into my current role as pastry chef.
What led to your interest in baking and the pastry arts?
My grandmother. It took just five ingredients – butter, flour, sugar, rhubarb and a dash of cinnamon – for my beloved grandmother to influence the beginning of my career. Every holiday and family get together meant one thing for sure – grandma’s rhubarb pie. I will never forget the first time she taught me how to make it. I was amazed at how a few simple ingredients could create something so wonderful. This is where it all began for me.
I had always been an artistic kid who loved drawing, painting and sculpting. As a child I never thought of how I could develop those skills into a career. As I grew older and spent more time with my grandmother and her wonderful baking skills, I started to develop a passion for the pastry arts.
What do you like most about being a pastry chef?
The best part about my job is that every day I get to create art. I love when people come to me with a rough idea of what they want created and we work together to create a cake or pastry that makes their special occasion even more special. It’s a very rewarding role!
Is it hard to know your masterpieces will be devoured soon after you’ve created them?
That’s a question I get asked quite a bit! I guess I don’t view it that way. When you go to a museum you see a painting and enjoy it with your eyes. I get to create art for all of the senses!
What are the current trends in the world of cake and pastry?
This is a world that is continually changing with never a dull moment. Some of the biggest trends this year are cake pops, French macaroons, cupcakes and 3D cakes. Cake pops and French macaroons are a cute and fun way to get just a taste in a small bite. It is a perfect dessert for a more moderate diet. Both desserts are also fun for bridal showers, baby showers, small weddings, etc.
Cupcakes have been big this year for weddings. It is a great way for brides to provide their guests with different cake flavors and toppings in a more cost effective way than the traditional tiered cakes.
There are also many shows now that have taken cakes to new heights, including 3D cakes. These cakes push the limits of cake to a level where it’s not just about the cake and icing, but also construction, stability and design. It is truly amazing how many techniques and skills are involved with creating an edible piece of art.
Andria Chinander, pastry chef at Byerly’s Ridgedale