The popularity of shows like Cupcake Wars and Cake Boss have changed the way we look at cakes and pastries, and what we expect from our food experiences. The Mott College Baking and Pastry Arts program is preparing students to fulfill those expectations; and then some.
“We offer an all-encompassing Baking and Pastry Arts program, which progresses from the most elementary levels to more advanced skills,” said David Miller, Certified Executive Pastry Chef and Baking and Pastry Arts Program Coordinator.
“It is a challenging and in-depth program designed to develop the skills that the industry is looking for. The curriculum is based on the American Culinary Federation’s competencies. We are currently working toward third-party accreditation through the ACF in Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry Arts,” added Miller.
Many community colleges have Culinary Arts programs, but not fully accredited Baking and Pastry Arts Associate’s Degrees, according to Jeff Livermore, Dean of the Business Division. MCC’s Culinary Arts program is fully accredited through the Business Division. “We go far beyond the typical Baking and Pastry Arts Program,” said Livermore, “Our students leave here fully prepared to start their own business or find employment in the industry. The ACF accreditation will add an additional layer of professionalism to our program.”
“There is currently a high demand for Baking and Pastry Chefs. Locally, we can’t supply enough graduates to meet the demand”, said Livermore. The College has an industry advisory board for the Baking and Pastry Arts Program that includes representatives from the Bay Arenac ISD, restaurants, health care food service providers, and the Flint Farmer’s Market. They provide a broad perspective on industry needs and trends.
“Because of the advisory board’s input, we recently included gluten free baking in the program,” said Livermore. “It is that type of input we need to hear; we can’t afford to turn out Baking and Pastry Chefs who don’t have the knowledge and skills to meet this new high-demand market segment.”
Through a progressive curriculum, students learn the basics of breads, pies, cakes, cookies, and cake decorating. They move on to modern desserts, plated desserts, pastries, and pastry techniques, pulled sugar centerpieces, chocolate and confections, and finally artisan breads.
It is the modern and plated dessert classes that give students a taste of the “real-world” demands they will face, providing them with the skills needed to plan a dessert menu from start to finish. Students have to plan the menu, price out all the ingredients, and determine costs. With modern desserts, students learn to re-work a traditional dessert with new flavors.
“A key to the program is that we help our students develop a professional palate,” said Miller. “We don’t just teach them how to bake; we teach them how to taste food, how to make it visually appealing, and how to use contrasting flavors and interesting pairings to enhance the dining experience. Our goal is to produce a professional.”
“It is important that we give them broad food experiences and develop the personal palate they will need to be able to listen to their clientele,” he added.
“There is currently a high demand for Baking and Pastry Chefs. Locally, we can’t supply enough graduates to meet the demand.”
- Jeff Livermore, Dean of the Business Division
Miller said it is rewarding for him to watch his students’ passion grow as they learn more and experience culinary successes. “When they begin to push themselves, and do what they thought they couldn’t do, they gain professional confidence,” he said.
“The students in this program are dedicated to their craft,” said Miller. “They put in a lot of hours beyond the classroom, and sometimes they will stay two or three hours after class to follow a project through to completion. I try to give them the freedom to follow their passions and explore their creativity.”
“Whatever their goal and wherever our students want to go; whether it is to start their own business, work in a restaurant, casino, resort, or industrial kitchen such as in a health care facility; we can prepare them here,” said Miller.
For more information about the Baking & Pastry Arts program at Mott College call 810-762-0534 or visit http://www.mcc.edu/business/bus_applewood.shtml.
The Baking and Pastry Arts program was originally a certificate program in the Culinary Arts curriculum at MCC; it then developed into an Associate’s Degree program in 2009. Coming full circle, the faculty is currently developing another certificate in Baking and Pastry Arts for those students who want the professional credentials and whose goal is to go directly into the workforce. The certificate program will be available for the Winter 2016 semester.
From Cupcake Wars to the Best Buns in Town
Heather Rousseau, owner of Sugar High Bakery and winner of Cupcake Wars 2012
After attending the MCC Baking and Pastry Arts program, Heather Rousseau, and her husband Adam, won the Food Network’s Season 7 Cupcake Wars-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles competition in November 2012. The couple owns the Sugar High Bakery, Sugar Rush Confection Mine, and Sugar High Café in Frankenmuth. After MCC, Rousseau attended the French Pastry School in Chicago; earning her certificate in 2009. She took the entrepreneurial plunge in 2010, by opening the Sugar High Bakery. “The reason I chose Mott College was because of the Bakery and Pastry Arts program,” said Rousseau. “I was accepted at other colleges, but they didn’t have baking programs.” MCC was also close to home for Rousseau, which enabled her to work and go to school full-time.
Another graduate of the Baking and Pastry Arts program is Kristina Boroff. She came full circle in the program during the Winter 2015 term, stepping in to teach the cake decorating class. Boroff is uniquely qualified for the task, as owner of Kristina’s Kakes in Davison. She is currently pursuing a degree in Hospitality at Ferris State University, as part of the 3+1 program through MCC. Following completion of her Associate’s Degree, she was able to continue her education at MCC for a third year that directly transferred to Ferris; where she will complete her final year toward her Bachelor’s Degree.
Evelyn Harrison took the skills she learned at MCC and started Rolls “R” Ready Pastries and Things in downtown Flint. Her business is part of the downtown revival and everybody knows Rolls “R” Ready has “the best buns in town!” Harrison brings a family tradition of southern cooking to her eatery. She and her business were recognized as the Minority Business of the Year in 2008 by the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, won a Midwest Living Magazine award, and provided the cake for My City Magazine’s anniversary issue cover photo.