Marie is a third term Baking & Pastry Diploma student who is about halfway through the program and has just won the Juleps for James Beard Foundation Northwest scholarship! She took the time to share with us her experience at OCI as well as her experience applying for the scholarship.
Marie’s OCI Experience
What made you want a career in the Baking and Pastry?
I have always enjoyed baking, I have been doing other things for a while and I decided when I moved up here to try baking and see what happens. I majored in math so I spent some time doing computer programming, some finances, and other admin stuff. Math helps with baking, so I can go quickly in the math aspect.
How did you find out about the scholarship and what was the process of applying?
I found out from financial aid here at OCI, they had given me a list of scholarships. I had gone over it and just looked it up, I know the James Beard Foundation is a big thing. So I researched it a little bit more and went and applied.
I had to get letters of recommendation from my most recent boss and a friend of mine who I have done some event work for, as well as old transcripts from my past school and write an essay. I chose to write my essay on my passion for baking and this transition in my life into it. Also, I want to open a bakery that has a social justice emphasis and so I kinda shared a little bit about that.
What advice would you give to someone seeking a scholarship?
Be really honest and take your time to write your essay from the heart. Also be ready to do the work because it is work to write essays or to go ask people for recommendation letters, that can be awkward but just be willing to go put the hard work in.
How long have you been at OCI?
I have been here since April, today is finals for T2 (term 2).
Why did you choose OCI?
It's close to home which is nice. But also in the Welcome Packet, I think there is something that Chef Wilkie had written about how like communion takes place when people sit together across a good meal and that’s something I believe even using some of those words that were a huge factor.
Quote: “We believe in the communion that takes place between people sitting down together over an expertly crafted meal.”
How would you describe your overall experience at OCI?
I really enjoy it, I think this program is exactly what I needed because I already have an undergraduate degree so I just needed a diploma program. I really enjoy how friendly all the instructors are and how everyone makes an effort to learn your name. I feel like it’s more family vibes here and I think that’s been a good thing for me too.
What is the environment like in the kitchen? In the classroom?
In the kitchen, I think it can be intense and even stressful but at the same time, it’s very professional. We’re learning things that I would have never learned on my own. We’re making things I've never heard about before like laminated pastries like Pithivier, Tarte Tatin, and things like that.
It’s definitely hard to readjust to the classroom feel but it was great, I thought that Ally (OCI Instructor) especially did a really good job with the academic level and teaching us so much information the time we had. The Food Ethics Class was really in the things I care about like taking care of people and the environment.
Was there a recipe you had never heard of that you fell in love with?
I think the Napoleons— they were challenging to do but I really enjoyed it. A Napoleon is three layers of puff pastry with fondant on top and pastry cream layered in between the puff pastry.
What was it like working with the chef instructors?
They are great, it’s fun to learn their personalities. Most of our time is spent in the kitchen which is like lab time so I’ve never had so much interaction with that. I’ve mostly had sit down academic classes so it’s fun to get to know them and how they teach. Also they are a wealth of knowledge and have so much experience and wisdom to share with each of us.
What is your favorite part about culinary school?
Two things: just the opportunity to be here is a great gift, and getting to make the stuff I’ve never heard of and just have it explained so well and have the time to do it. The other part is friendships, I’ve really enjoyed my friendships with my classmates and getting to know the instructors.
What are your goals coming into the program? What do you plan to pursue with your Baking and Pastry degree?
I want to open a bakery with a social justice emphasis. I want the food side to be homey and have a place where people can gather together or just stay all day and do homework because I remember those days a student. For the social justice part, there is a call in the bible to take care of the orphans and widows, I think that was like ancient Jewish culture and now today I think that would look like taking care of foster kids or single-parent families so I somehow want to partner with organizations who partner with those people groups.
Baking & Pastry at OCI
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in Baking & Pastry, learn more about OCI’s approach to culinary eduction. You can also talk with a financial aid officer to see what opportunities are available to you!