French Pastry School: What was your background previous to pastry, and what led you to pursue a pastry education?
Jacqueline Mata: Before attending L’Art de la Pâtisserie at the French Pastry School, I was a baker for one year at Panera Bread in Elgin, Illinois. I grew up with a love and appreciation for French and European pastries and breads. My mother was from Switzerland, and we visited Europe often. When visiting Switzerland or France, I would always go to the pastry shops. I would never get tired of admiring the products and savoring the seasonal or regional specialties. From that, I got the urge to learn how to make what I loved to eat. After attending a French Pastry Experience, I signed up for a week-long Pastry Camp. I enjoyed the class so much, and I decided to apply for L'Art de Pâtisserie program, and enrolled in July, 2010.
FPS: What has been the most eye-opening moment for you so far in the program?
JM: My most surprising moment was the realization that it is crucial to understand the purpose of each ingredient in a recipe. Each ingredient has a certain purpose or function, and once you have a good understanding, the possibilities to create are endless. There are reasons for everything in pastry.
FPS: Where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you hope to be?
JM: After graduation, I plan to find a job in the industry to continue my training. In five years, I would like to open a bakery/café selling artisanal bread, sandwiches, and specialty pastries.
I moved to Oklahoma and got married in August, 2011. I look forward to exploring opportunities in pastry and making connections in my new home, Tulsa.
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?
JM: I will remember how the instructors taught us about every aspect of the industry – not only what takes place in the kitchen, but also on the business end. They taught out of personal experience, telling of both their mistakes and successes so that we could learn from their knowledge and experience in the industry.