Food With A Farm-To-Table Focus: Sarah Schweitzer Spotlight
It made sense for 19-year-old Sarah Schweitzer when she chose Escoffier Online for her culinary education. As a graduate of an online high school education, she was used to the format and excited it allowed her to continue to be close to her family and in an environment that nurtured her love of sustainable, farm-to-table food. With a strong background in the culinary arts from her time in the kitchen with her mother and grandmother, Sarah was able to tweak and fine-tune both the culinary and pastry arts while providing herself with the tools she needs to start her own business. With a dream of one day owning her own café, Sarah is well on her way to being a household name in the Northeast.
We sat down with Sarah to talk about why she loved her schooling with Escoffier, what her fantasy celebrity dinner party would look like and, of course, what she would make at said dinner.
Escoffier Online: How did your love of cooking and baking first get sparked?
Sarah Schweitzer: My love for both cooking and baking started when my Grandma and Grandpa would come to our house and spend time with us. My grandma would bring foods to cook or we would have foods for her to cook. She was also active in her church kitchen making ethnic foods. It was a Slovak church since she is Polish so the foods were delicious and easy for a kid to help with or make. My mom also likes to cook and bake. We have a family of 7 so I was always watching what my Mom was doing to make meals. Then, my younger brother got sick so I learned about making organic and no preservative foods. On top of that, I started watching cooking shows like Jacques Pepin and Julia Child on the Food Network. So, my start was with family mostly.
EO: Why did you decide to do the Escoffier Online program?
SS: I wanted to be at home and helping with family cooking and taking advantage of consumers in the Northeast. My family is incredibly important to me so I wanted to stay close to them. And since I did Commonwealth Connection Academy, an online school, for high school so Escoffier Online fit well!
EO: How do you feel it will help you in your future career?
SS: Escoffier is helping to perfect my techniques for both cooking and baking. It has been an honor to be a part of Escoffier and I’m excited to be an alumni of the baking program and soon to be culinary program too.
EO: What do you love most about being able to apply the farm-to-table principal to your cooking?
SS: I love that I can give local farmers and vendors business. I like to buy fresh, local produce and products. Local first. We would be no where without farmers and local businesses!
EO: Tell me about the cooking you do for private events and gatherings.
SS: I love to bake and cook for private parties like graduation parties, anniversaries and holidays. I like to get to know people and offer them organic, fresh, homemade foods. I love to talk to my clients and hear their comments about my food. Especially in the summer, I like to bake for fairs and see what everyone is making and how they create it.
EO: You started with our baking & pastry program and are starting the culinary program soon. What made you decide to do both?
SS: Both programs looked wonderful and honestly, I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to do first! Then, I thought that because I love making breads, cakes, puffed pastry and buns, I thought that baking & pastry would be a good starting point. I’m also so excited to learn in the culinary program. I feel that I am accomplished in both but maybe my first love is baking and pastry.
EO: What’s the one ingredient you have to always have in your kitchen?
SS: Everything is better with butter!
EO: If you were to host a dinner party, what famous chefs would you invite and why?
SS: I would definitely invite Jacques Pepin, Julia Child and Martha Stewart. They are icons in the culinary world. I would want to know what they thought of my food and how I could improve. Maybe some chefs from Food Network too! I love Alton Brown because he knows the science of cooking. I feel that these chefs are classic in their techniques and base a lot of my cooking on them and their fresh, basic approach to cooking.
EO: And most importantly: what would you make at the dinner party?
SS: I would start with miniature seafood pot pie tartlets in my own pastry and sausage-stuffed mushrooms topped with camembert for appetizers.Oh, and then maybe some homemade ricotta cheese on my crusty bread with figs and honey drizzle as well was a butternut squash soup featuring local squash or my own or tomato bisque with homemade croutons. Salad would be a red beet salad with goat cheese, mixed greens and marcona almonds. Dinner would be pan-seared scallops over a cauliflower puree, potato waffle chip garnish and watercress with crispy bacon. And for the grand finale, dessert would bema pear and frangipane tart. I’ll throw in a blood orange martini as a signature drink to tie it all in together!
EO: And last but not least, what are your hopes and dreams for your culinary future?
SS: I hope to one day have my own café—something like a breakfast-lunch-light dinner thing—that welcomes local live music!