Student Life: The Transition from Biology to Baking
I fell in love with baking at a very young age. My homemaker mom loves to bake, and so I would always be right by her side learning by osmosis. It was fun not only eating a yummy homemade dessert but also getting to spend some quality time with her.
The thought of going to pastry school was far from my mind so after I graduated high school, I went off to college with a love for science and laboratory research and majored in biology. Along with biology classes, but I also had to take other science classes, such as Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Genetics. These classes were incredibly difficult, and the vast amounts of homework and studying took a toll on me. Baking helped me to release the stress and keep me focused. I always thought baking is a science: you follow a recipe to create something, just like you follow a procedure to obtain results in an experiment. Kitchen, research lab, same difference, right?
This past summer was tough for me because I finished my four years and I needed to find a job. While in college, I realized I loved being in the lab, though I knew something was missing. I thought I wanted to land a job as a research scientist, but when I spoke to someone in the field, he made me realize that it was not for me. During my job search, I baked cookies, brownies, cakes, and cupcakes that I gave away with utter abandon. I doled out my confections to family, friends, neighbors, and the firemen that came one evening when the smoke alarm when off (Don’t ask. I now know what not to do when making caramel.) They all praised me for my skill. Most recipients told me I should sell my products!
Today, I am halfway through the Professional Pastry Arts Program. I have already learned so much, from baking cookies and piping rosettes to learning how to properly ice cakes with butter cream. I even had the honor of volunteering at a Jacques Torres demonstration, and it was an amazing experience. It was like watching Picasso paint! I also love that I can go home to teach my mom some of the techniques I’m learning. She sparked my love for baking and taught me so much over the years, so it is nice for me to be able to teach her for a change.
Follow along with Ava’s adventures on Instagram, via @ava_szabby.
This blog post was originally published by the International Culinary Center (ICC), founded as The French Culinary Institute (FCI). In 2020, ICE and ICC came together on one strong and dynamic national platform at ICE's campuses in New York City and Los Angeles. Explore your pastry education where the legacy lives on.