The French Pastry School: What was your background previous to pastry, and what led you to pursue a pastry education?
Melina Sinigos: Prior to The French Pastry School, I was a Music Education major (percussion) at Michigan State University. After two years of wonderful instruction, I decided to steer my life towards culinary artistry. I moved to Grand Rapids, MI and attended the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. I received my Culinary Management degree and my Baking/Pastry Arts certificate after three years. After working with Master Pastry Chef, Gilles Renusson and French Pastry School Alumni, Marcia Rango, at this school, I knew my life was heading towards the sweeter side. Towards the end of my culinary schooling, I was blessed with a job at Gerald R. Ford's Kent Country Club as their pastry chef. During this year at the club, I wanted more. I craved more instruction on this wonderful art. This brought me to applying to The French Pastry School and finalizing my culinary schooling.
FPS: What has been the most surprising or eye-opening moment for you so far in the program?
MS: I never thought I would fall in love with the certain aspects of pastry that I did. Because I have had experience under my belt before attending FPS, I knew I enjoyed breads, cakes, and plated desserts. My previous schooling focused on these three main products. I hoped to simply sharpen my skills on these skills that I only covered quite basically. Beyond exceeding my expectations of these skills, I was able to acquire and perfect skills in the world of pastry I never thought I would get my hands on. Sugar Showpiece was extremely mind boggling, in a great way. I pushed myself to practice, practice, practice the sugar rose. Another sculpting course we were blessed with was Chocolate Showpiece. As the chocolate began to melt onto my fingertips during this course, I was oozing with enjoyment. Both showpiece courses blew me away. It threw me for such a wonderful surprise of how much I loved these two courses. I cannot wait to present this knowledge down the road.
FPS: What are your plans following graduation?
MS: Following my graduation, I will be heading home to Michigan. After losing my grandfather three-quarters through the patisserie program, I was only able to spend a couple of weekends with my family. They are my driving force and I am looking forward to spending the holiday season with them. With the help of the supportive chefs and faculty from The French Pastry School and chefs from my previous schooling, I am looking to move west (Hawaii or California). I have always enjoyed working in country clubs and resorts; I plan to veer towards one of the two. I have no current, definite plans following my schooling. I will certainly be able to enjoy the ability to travel and relocate in the near future.
FPS: Where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you hope to be?
MS: I see myself as a successful Pastry Sous Chef at resort. Working under a talented, seasoned, and remarkable pastry chef would be an honor. What matters to me is that I continue to stay passionate and happy in the pastry industry. The daily routine of any normal work life can make anyone fall 'out of love' with their career. However, I hope to incorporate fun into my journey, enabling the continuance of passion towards my career choice. I have this line up in my head: work under many various chefs and gather as much information from each one of them; become an executive pastry chef and manage a kitchen; open up a French bakery; and, finally, teach at a culinary school. I will certainly make sure all of these happen!
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?
MS: I will remember how lucky I was to have everything at my fingertips. The supplies, the equipment, and the products from all the sponsors always allowed the students and me to create anything and everything we would like. Seeing the many storage rooms and many freezers, fridges and chocolate rooms, our learning capacity was going to completely inflate. With all that we had at hand, my little black notebook is filled to the brim with notes from chefs. We all learned so very much. I cannot express how much was given to us, from the instruction of the chef or the gifts from the suppliers; I am blessed to have taken away such a large amount of knowledge. Besides the friends I made and will keep for a life time, I made connections in Chicago to possibly help in later careers down the road. I am happy that I made FPS my final culinary school stepping stone. I am ready for the world of pastries.