Before enrolling in L’Art de la Pâtisserie at The French Pastry School of Kennedy-King College in January, 2009, Gratiela worked for Sara Lee Corporation as a food scientist, a position she enjoyed for five years where she developed new formulas for sauces and dressings. Prior to her job at Sara Lee, Gratiela attended Bucharest University in Romania, her home country.
Gratiela loved being able to employ her creativity and imagination through her education at The French Pastry School. Most importantly, she gained fundamental knowledge of pastry with a lot of time to practice new techniques. “You could have the best recipes in the world, but you must have the practice. You can work on hand skills, but you must also understand what you are doing.” Among the various subjects, she remembers learning breads most vividly – she loved gaining a baker’s skills and learning to appreciate baking technology.
"You could have the best recipes in the world, but you must have the practice. You can work on hand skills, but you must also understand what you are doing."
She also found learning gumpaste flowers to be very exciting. This was an entirely new topic for her. The first few days of cake decorating were especially challenging, but her Chef’s patience and careful instruction guided her through the process. Gratiela was also thrilled to meet Chef Nicholas Lodge during the wedding cake portion of the program when he came to demonstrate his techniques for the full-time students in L’Art de la Pâtisserie, and to teach a professional-level Continuing Education class.
Gratiela now creates cakes to order, instructs pastry on a part-time basis, and works as a food scientist doing product development in beverages. Always motivated to expand her knowledge, Gratiela returned to The French Pastry School in January, 2010 to participate in the Continuing Education class, Bronwen Weber’s Incredible Sculpted Cakes.