• Chefs Pagan and Schroeder Reflect on the Dallas Pastry Arts Program's First Year in Honor of National Pastry Month

    As Remington College's nod to National Pastry Month, celebrated in October, "Today @ Remington College" recently asked Chef Instructor Todd Pagan and Pastry Arts Department Chair Kate Schroeder to give us their thoughts on the Dallas Pastry Arts Program's inaugural year.

    Here's what they had to say.

    Q: What are your thoughts and reflections on the initial year of the Dallas Pastry Arts program?

    Chef Todd:
    "The past year has been exciting for the program and has flown by like a rocket. I've seen students walk through our doors with no knowledge of what it means to bake anything from scratch, and I've watched them become very good bakers who can work up some of their very own formulas."

    "I've also been lucky enough to help coach some of our students for pastry arts competitions. Our experiences so far have gone very well, especially considering they are the first two competitions our Pastry Arts students have ever competed in. We've also been part of our Campus's community service activities, starting with the 'Treats of Christmas' for the North Texas Food Bank, for which we made and donated over 20 baskets of candies for sale. (By the way, all of our baskets sold very fast!).

    The other was the Grapevine Chocolate Festival, which supports a part of the United Way known as Travelers Aid Family Services. This one had a judges' tasting event that earned us first prize! Not bad for our first time out. I've been proud to see our graduates leave us knowing that they have a good sense of what it takes to be successful in the business."

    Q: Tell us some things you've learned along the way - about your students and the program.

    Chef Kate: "I began in late June 2011 as program chair, but I've been at Remington since December 2010. With every new class I teach, I learn from my students as much as they learn from me. The wonderful thing about the culinary field is that it's not exclusive. By that, I mean that people from all walks of life can be successful in our field, as long as they work hard and can be creative - and our students have proven they can!"

    "One of the best parts of being an Instructor in the Pastry Arts program is meeting and getting to know all our students.

    We have students who are already cake decorators and want to learn all aspects of baking. And we have students who have never made a cookie before!

    To be present when one of our students discovers something new they love, or to see their face when they make a soufflé for the first time, is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done."

    Chef Todd: "I've also had the chance to learn from my students - something that never surprises me but always delights me. I learn different things about their culture and background, and the food items that come from those cultures.

    I'm always surprised with the students themselves; the number of reasons they come to school are as individual as blades of grass.

    I'm also always impressed with the obstacles that many of them overcome to be in class, to do homework, and to succeed. Also impressive to me are the different backgrounds of our new baking staff, and how they came to be here from their humble beginnings. For me, teaching is a pleasure. I always like to see the look in my students' eyes when they learn how to do something the correct way or accomplish something they've never done before."

    Q: What are you looking forward to in the Pastry Arts Program's second year?

    Chef Kate: "We're very proud of our students and how far they've come, and we anticipate more competitions, fundraisers, and opportunities for them! We also look forward to seeing our students graduate and to watching them become successful in the pastry arts field."

    Q: Can you share a favorite/popular (and easy) dessert recipe that we can try at home?

    Chef Todd shares his recipe for Bluegrass Pie: "This pie is a regular staple where I grew up, in the southern Indiana area that is a suburb of Louisville, Kentucky. The pie is served everywhere there, especially around the time of the Kentucky Derby (the most exciting three minutes in sports!). It's an easy recipe that I've made literally hundreds of times, and I hope you all enjoy it!"