Pastry Arts Certificate Program Success: Maria Dzuzelewski Spotlight

As an avid home baker, Maria Dzuzelewski always dreamed of pursuing a professional career in the pastry arts and she knew her first step would be going to school. But as a full-time mom, the likelihood of her attending an on campus school was zero to none. She needed a program that allowed her to balance her family duties and busy schedule without adding on additional stress. That’s when she found Escoffier Online’s online pastry course. The structured 13-month long course was the perfect fit for her family. No additional travel time or expense. No disruption to her family life. She was able to finally gain the education she had always wanted so she could pursue a professional baking career. On top of the program, Maria did her externship at the famous Palermo’s Custom Cakes and Bakery in New Jersey and completed a one day stage at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery in New York City. With professional experience and an online pastry arts education under her belt, Maria feels confident approaching this new career path in her life—the one she always dreamed of.

She took some time out of her busy schedule to catch up with us about her externship and why it was so important, her post-graduation plans and the business she dreams of opening some day.

Escoffier Online: What is your background in the pastry arts?
Maria Dzuzelewski:
Before pursuing the baking and pastry program at Escoffier, my experience consisted of casual baking at home and sharing my successful creations with my friends and family.

EO: Why did you want to pursue an education in the pastry arts?
I thoroughly enjoy baking and creating pastries. My results and end products varied widely and I wanted to know why that was and to get a deeper understanding of the underlying process. I knew that I needed a formal education from experts to make that happen.

EO: Why did you choose the online program?
As a wife and full-time mom I wanted a program that would provide me with an excellent, thorough education without sacrificing or adding stress to my family life. This would not have been possible if the program required traveling and time away from home.

EO: What was your favorite part of the learning experience?
I enjoyed participating in live instructional sessions and then using the knowledge I obtained to bake and create in the comfort of my own kitchen.

A fruit tart Maria created.

Maria said her garnishing skills have greatly improved since completing the program.

EO: What were the top 3 most helpful skills that you learned?
Scaling, scaling and scaling! Seriously it’s so important and doing it properly will open up many possibilities. Also, food safety and menu development were important skills.

EO: You did your externship at Palermo’s Custom Cakes and Bakery. Tell us about that experience and how you got it.
I applied via the bakery’s website and submitted my resume. Working at Palermo’s bakery was an awesome experience. I participated in two distinct areas within the bakery, the baked goods mass production department and the custom cakes department. The mass production department was extremely well organized. I learned how efficient a bakery can be when process is in place.

The team produced 40,000 – 50,000 cupcakes from scratch to packed and shipped in a week. Although impressive, I enjoyed my time in the custom cakes department even more. I worked with master cake decorators such as Mark Randazzo, as they produced some of the most spectacular cakes that I have ever seen. There may have even been a celebrity or two that passed through the doors when I was there.

The externship in the pastry arts certificate program led to significant results for Maria.EO: What, in your opinion, are the benefits of the externship portion of the program?
The externship provided a hands-on, real world experience. The skills I acquired led to tangible end results in the creation of professionally baked goods. My skills increased dramatically and my knowledge deepened. Meeting other bakers and pastry chefs was also key. Establishing a network was extremely beneficial.

EO: You did a 1 day trial at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery. Tell me about that experience.
This was probably my favorite part! Bouchon bakery is an incredible place. The knowledge contained within its walls is staggering. The pastry chefs are amazing and incredibly talented. I truly loved the experience.

EO: What’s your favorite pastry to make?
My favorite pastry, hands-down, is the macaron! So much fun!

EO: Who is your culinary/pastry idol?
Dominique Ansel! He’s an innovator. He changed the process and is able to make pastries “à la minute.” 70% of the menu at his bakery is finished, assembled, or baked, as soon as you order. This is amazing. Also, I mean come on, he created the cronut!

EO: What’s your dream pastry arts job?
I would love to create my own brand of innovative pastries and wholesale them to different establishments. In fact, I am currently in talks with an establishment in New York City to provide them with my own baked creations.

EO: Where do you hope to see your career in 5 years?
I’d like to see my brand established and my products providing enjoyment to their consumers.

EO: What advice do you have for people pursuing an online pastry education?
Do it at Escoffier. You won’t regret it!

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