By Gemma Simko
Jae Min Hong, 18 years young, sits in New School of Cooking’s main kitchen at a steel prep table. She is in her final month of the Professional Baking and Pastry Arts Program, and is eager and excited to graduate. Her journey started in January when she decided that New School of Cooking was the best choice for her.
I loved that the course was only six months long – it was an ideal time frame for me. It’s also a great location!
A person of many passions, Hong had a hard time deciding which path to pursue – Culinary Arts or Baking and Pastry Arts. When asked why she chose baking over culinary, she exclaimed, “I sucked at baking!”, and continued to explain the competitive drive she’s had since high school, and an overall eagerness to improve herself. She’s no doubt succeeded.
Her favorite weeks of study included croque-en-bouche, artisan breads and plated desserts. “Bread is such an artform and plated desserts allowed me to showcase my creativity.” Hong said. She recalls making traditional savory Korean breads with her family while growing up, and has since had them try everything she’s made in the Baking and Pastry Arts program.
The instruction she received from Chef Briana Bielucke also made an impact on her.”Chef Briana really talks about how you can do anything in the world of baking and pastry arts and to make it your art. The more you can think out of the box the better.”
Another highlight of her time in class was when New School of Cooking hosted the WCR conference in April and she was able to volunteer and meet Chef Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in the United States with a two star michelin restaurant.
It was so cool to meet Chef Dominique, an experience I will never forget!
Hong’s long term career path is far from decided- in just three months, she will depart for Missouri, where she will attend Army bootcamp. She then plans to serve in the Army for the next four years, but she definitely wants to open her own dessert business someday – an ice cream shop. Her signature flavor would be “kitchen sink” ice cream, with everything from pretzels to peanuts and chocolate.
Hong is a beloved student in the New School of Cooking community. When she’s not in class, she can be found bouncing between classrooms as a kitchen assistant, or working with the purchasing manager. Though she’ll be missed around here, we have no doubt this baker will take bootcamp by storm.