Milk Bar made its signature birthday cakes at ICE before opening in LA.

How Tori Eisenstadt Made Her Way to Milk Bar

This ICE alum enrolled in Pastry & Baking Arts as a stepping stone towards her goal of working at prestigious bakeries.

Tori Eisenstadt (Pastry, ‘18) always loved to bake. After starting her own business and working at a few small bakeries, she realized that culinary school would help take her to the next level.

After graduating with a degree in communications from Syracuse University in 2014, Tori tried her hand in the entertainment industry.

“I never felt really passionate about it and never really found my place,” she says.

She spent a few months unsure about what type of career she wanted to pursue when her parents suggested baking.

“At first – it’s going to sound shallow –I didn’t want to be eating desserts all the time and gaining weight,” Tori explains. “My health is very important to me, but I told myself that was a stupid reason not to go into something I love, and I would learn self-control.”

So Tori decided to start her own cookie business called Treate. She sold her cookies for almost a year before changing course.

“I didn’t have business experience and I didn’t know how to market myself,” Tori says. “I love baking, but I didn’t want to do any of the administrative and marketing work that goes along with it.”

She came to the conclusion that she wanted to work for someone else and learn the ins and outs of running a business that way. She worked for a family friend who was starting a baking company, then at a small bakery in Hollywood called Confection Co-Op. After about a year at Confection Co-Op, Tori was ready to make her next move.

Tori's final cake at ICE.
Tori's final cake at ICE

“I realized I didn’t have anything notable on my resume to get myself a job at a notable place, and I always was curious about culinary school,” she says.

When she started researching culinary schools, the Institute of Culinary Education was the first spot she found in her native LA. The timing was right, so she applied and was accepted to the Los Angeles campus' second Pastry & Baking Arts class.

Tori began in April 2018 and continued to work part-time at Confection Co-Op in the morning, attending classes from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. At ICE, she was exposed to desserts she’d never worked with before, from custards and breads to sugar and chocolate. She also learned cake decorating, which was more empowering than she expected.

“Our last project was decorating a wedding cake in fondant and gum paste flowers. I’m more into the actual baking, so I didn’t think I would be into the whole decorating thing, but I actually was very proud of my result for my wedding cake because I didn’t think I would be able to do anything like that,” Tori says.

For her externship, she knew she wanted to work at an esteemed bakery. Luckily, Milk Bar was about to open in LA and an opportunity came straight to her.

“Before Milk Bar opened, they needed to rent out kitchen space before their health department inspections were completed,” Tori explains. “They rented space from ICE, and I ended up volunteering a few days after school. I got comfortable enough to ask for an externship. I sent in my resume and I’ve been there ever since.”

She completed her externship hours at Milk Bar and was offered a full-time job at the bakery, which opened in September 2018.

Tori Eisenstadt works at Christina Tosi's Milk Bar in LA.
Tori showcases Milk Bar's trademark Birthday Cake with founder Christina Tosi.

“It was a lot more intense in the beginning when I was coming out of school and used to a small bakery,” Tori says of her early time at Milk Bar. “I was kind of overwhelmed the first month because I wasn’t used to using big mixing machines or handling the amount of production we were doing. The batches were so big and I felt like everything I was carrying around was so heavy.”

Tori has since acclimated and become comfortable at the bakery. She says it’s still crazy sometimes, but that it’s a fun work environment and she likes the people she bakes with.

“I guess I got strong for the job because none of this is that hard for me anymore,” Tori says. “In the beginning it was overwhelming and I was kind of slow, but I got used to it and got quicker. I’ve become more efficient and better at working with my team.”

Tori sees herself continuing to work at Milk Bar for the foreseeable future and down the line, she has her sights on recipe research and development, perhaps for her own company.

“I would love to be the creative mastermind behind a bakery,” she says.

Step onto your pastry career path with ICE's Pastry & Baking Arts program.

Submitted by Jill Degan on April 30, 2019 10:39am

An inspirational story of of hard work and perseverance. Proud of your hard work. 

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