Third Career Path's the Charm
ICE alum Angelica Chavez tried her hand at cosmetology and law enforcement before making her way to the kitchen.
After forays into two completely different fields, Angelica Chavez (Pastry, ‘18) found joy creating cakes for her family. With their encouragement, she attended culinary school and now bakes professionally.
When Angelica graduated high school, she wanted to pursue the world of beauty. She worked hard to get her cosmetology license but had trouble building up her clientele once she had it.
Next, she went to college to study law enforcement. She completed her associate of science degree in administration of justice with the intention of joining the police academy. Upon narrowly failing the entrance exam twice, she told herself that if she failed a third time she would redirect her career once again – this time towards baking.
“I failed the test a third time by a few points and decided to go to culinary school,” Angelica says.
She had been baking cakes for family birthday parties and realized she really enjoyed it. She made vanilla, strawberry and chocolate cakes and experimented with fondant. Impressed with her cakes, her family encouraged her to learn how to bake professionally.
“One day I was on Instagram and I saw this ad for ICE,” Angelica says. “That’s why I decided to move to Pasadena to do the baking and pastry program.”
She began Pastry & Baking Arts career training in April 2018 and immediately knew she’d made the right choice.
“My experience at ICE was pretty great,” Angelica says. “It was more than I expected. The chefs were really amazing people. We had more one-on-one interaction with our instructors and got to learn a lot more than if we had had a bigger class.”
While Angelica came to ICE with a lot of cake baking experience under her belt, the program exposed her to pastries she’d never made before like pâte à choux, as well as pastries she hadn’t mastered on her own.
“Before I started school, I would’ve said my favorite thing was baking cakes because I would try to make cookies at home and I would never make them right,” she explains. “The first thing we made on the first day were chocolate chip cookies and they came out amazing. It was the first time in my life that I had ever made really good chocolate chip cookies.”
Angelica finished classes in September and began her externship at The Arbour, a farm-to-table restaurant in Pasadena. She completed her 210 hours in about six weeks.
“It was slightly different from school because I wasn’t just making a lot of different things every day. I would go in for production and make California cakes, tiramisu and olive oil chocolate cake. I would also plate the desserts,” she says.
While Angelica had a great experience at The Arbour, she ultimately learned more about what she didn’t want in a job.
“I decided I wanted to work at a bakery instead of in a restaurant setting because I wasn’t really making pastries in the restaurant and that’s what I wanted to make,” she explains.
Angelica secured a position at Poppy Cake Baking Company in Sierra Madre, California, where she’s been baking since November.
“I do the production. I bake everything in the morning and then put it out for display and after that I tray up the stuff for the next morning. I make chocolate mousses, panna cotta, batter for the cakes, stuff like that,” she says of her daily responsibilities.
She works traditional bakery hours, which means she arrives at 5 a.m. to begin working.
“I’m happy with what I’m doing,” Angelica reports. “I’m getting more experience with how to make big batches of everything, rather than small batches of different things each day like how we did it in school.”
Now that she’s establishing her career as a baker, Angelica agrees that the third time’s the charm.
“For the future, I would really love to open my own bakery. Working at a bakery is helping me learn what I need to do to run my own business,” she says.
Pursue a pastry avenue like Angelica did at ICE's Los Angeles campus.