Could You Tell Us About Yourself Before Becoming a Chef?
As a child I always struggled with what I wanted to do when I grew up. I was actually really into science in high school and started working towards a degree in Anthropology at Portland State University after I graduated. Nothing really inspired me though and I was more interested in competing in hunter/jumpers with my horse at the time. I ended up dropping out of college and getting a full time office job to support my riding hobby.
What Inspired You to Become a Chef?
Growing up, my dad was an amazing cook, my mom baked everything from scratch and I loved being in the kitchen with both of them. They turned my older brother and I into foodies for sure.
When I was living alone in my early 20’s, I started baking more to entertain myself. I would share it with everyone I knew and it felt really great to see them so surprised and delighted. I realized that everyone was getting so used to mass-produced, store-bought, bland baked goods, so it was easy to blow their minds with some scratch cookies.
After a couple years I began to get a little restless with my job sitting in a cubicle so I got a crazy idea to enroll myself in culinary school. I had no idea where it was going to take me or what to expect, which was both exciting and terrifying.
How Did Délice Confections Come to Be?
After a few years of culinary school and working as a pastry chef at a couple different restaurants I felt like I was kind of stuck in a rut. I never really got to do or make exactly what I wanted.
I discovered I loved making chocolates and dessert buffets and wasn’t as fond of plated desserts. I always toyed with the idea of starting my own dessert catering business and after being encouraged by a few fellow entrepreneurs, I decided to go ahead and make the leap and start Délice Confections.
It has been a pretty bumpy start with a lot of learning along the way. I’ve been fortunate to work with some great small business owners in Oregon City who have helped me grow slowly but surely. My little bakery keeps morphing and adapting as I discover more about myself and the wants and needs of my community around me. There’s still a long road ahead, but I know I am on the right path.
We Are Coming to Your Place Tonight, What Do You Make Us?
I would definitely serve up a slice of my salted caramel cheesecake. You can find it at Ranee’s on Main in Oregon City year-round.
The recipe was actually created for me by a dear friend of mine when Délice first started and I have been sworn to secrecy. I combine her cheesecake with salted caramel that I make from scratch and it’s magical. I’d like to say it has become pretty famous with the locals!
Any Advice to Aspiring OCI Ninjas?
I would say that Oregon Culinary Institute taught me a lot to get me started in the big pastry world, but it pales in comparison to what you learn when you finally get out there.
Try not to get too set on something specific you want to do or make and be open to opportunities as they come your way. You might stumble onto something you’re really good at that you hadn’t considered doing before.
Be flexible in the kitchen because things rarely turn out precisely like you planned. Also, improvisation is key.
Keep in mind that there is perfection in imperfection. And any negativity in the kitchen will show through your food, so stay positive and remind yourself that you’re doing what you love!
About Rachel Ciula
Rachel Ciula is the pastry chef owner of Délice Confections, a dessert catering business based in Oregon City. Her macarons, cakes, cheesecakes, and caramel sauce are made from scratch with whole ingredients and no preservatives or artificial ingredients.
For more information about Rachel or her delicious catering services, visit her website.