by Carolyn Jummati
At Lexington College, the name Meg Aldrich is well-known due to her talent for the baking and pastry arts. Since the 20-year old Springfield, IL native came to Lexington in the Spring of 2013, she has been shared her baking creations with the student body frequently. Natural talent, passion, and a lot of experience have made Aldrich the polished baker that she is today. With a young woman like this walking around the school, we had to sit down with her for an interview to find out how she got to the point that she is today.
CJ: What is your job at the Art Institute of Chicago?
MA: I work on the pastry team at the Art Institute of Chicago. My company is called Bon Appetit Management Company. They’re contracted by the Art Institute of Chicago to make all of the food for: Terzo Piano (the restaurant upstairs), Millennium Court Restaurant (their seasonal garden restaurant), banquets and the Art Institute Café.
CJ: What types of things do you make at work?
MA: We make all of the desserts for the café, plated desserts for parties ranging from 6 to 1,000 people, cookie platters, and really anything that the customers ask for.
CJ: What has been your favorite thing to make so far?
MA: Chocolat cremeux…a molded chocolate mousse that is served frozen.
CJ: Can you explain what a usual day at work is like?
MA: I usually come in at 7am, depending on if there’s a breakfast or not. Then I open up the fridge and freezers and do the temperature time logs. I check the BEO (Banquet Event Order) sheets to see what we have to make for the day, and the rest of the week. From there I help the rest of the baking and pastry team create the list for what we need to make that day. Sometimes I assist the other team that handles the savory food items with their ‘plate-up’ process, if there is a dinner that night.
CJ: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
MA: I see myself as a manager of a bakery. Quality managers are difficult to find, and having a quality manager makes everyone’s life easier.
CJ: Do you have any advice for anyone who wishes to become a professional pastry chef?
MA: Listen to the people who are training you, and do it their way first. Be modest and be willing to work really, really hard.
Meg Aldrich is in her second year at Lexington College and is working to earn a Bachelor’s of Applied Science degree in Hospitality Management. She recently launched the school’s first Baking & Pastry Club with Chef Cheryl Brookhouzen of the Chicago Downtown Marriott Magnificent Mile, and will be creating a custom cake that was auctioned off to a guest at the annual Building Scholarships for Service Benefit Dinner on Tuesday, October 8th.