The French Pastry School: What was your background previous to pastry, and what led you to pursue a pastry education?
Sara Trent: Prior to The French Pastry School I worked with antiquarian, second-hand books and special collections. Having a degree in English Literature, I enjoyed what I did and the people I was able to connect with, but it was a very sedentary career and lacking a sense of creativity. I fell in love with chocolate when I was hiking the French and Swiss Alps, the heart of Lindt chocolate country. After returning from Europe, I became close friends with a classmate who explained and showed me what an art form food and drink is. Under his enthusiasm and my love of chocolate, I became obsessed with desserts and decided to change careers with the help of The French Pastry School.
FPS: What has been the most surprising or eye-opening moment for you so far in the program?
ST: The most eye-opening moments are when I see the various chefs continually perfecting their skills. They have spent years working in this industry, studied under and worked with famous chefs around the world, reached top honors in this field and yet still pursue a higher level of excellence. It is a daunting, yet exciting thought that there will never be a time where I can stop and accept that I have reached a point of “good enough.”
FPS: What are your plans following graduation?
ST: I plan to move out West to Jackson, Wyoming. Ideally, I would like to find work for a small resort or bed and breakfast establishment. I want to work for an establishment where pastries are directly connected to someone’s vacation experience. I’ve learned quickly, here in Chicago, that I not only need an occupation I love, but also an atmosphere that inspires. I’m not looking for prestige, but simply a place where I can be completely happy, in and out of work.
FPS: Where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you hope to be?
ST: In five years, I hope to have found a place that I’ve settled into, with co-workers that act as a second family, a place where, every day, I have the ability to expand my creativity and improve my technique. I don’t want or need any more than that. I’ve learned, and had it confirmed from various chefs, family and friends that beautiful simplicity in every area of life, from my career to what is outside of it, is the only thing worth pursuing.
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?
ST: The French Pastry School was an amazing experience in so many ways, but what was most impressionable was what I was able to experience outside of it. Through The French Pastry School’s incredible network system, I was able to work with Chef Ji Yoon at The Gage restaurant and it was here that I was able to confirm that this is the career I want. Everyone I worked with, from my fellow pastry ladies, to the dishwashers, to the line cooks, chefs and servers taught me so much and they set the standard for the working atmosphere I want. The camaraderie I experienced there is what I’ll remember most vividly during my time in Chicago.