Graduate: 2009, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Miami
Degree: Associate in Science Degree in Le Cordon Bleu Pâtisserie and Baking
Current Position: Pastry Chef – Grand Floridian Resort and Spa at Walt Disney World
Le Cordon Bleu Alumni Jade Bowser brings Magic to the Holidays as Walt Disney World Pastry Chef - Celebrating the 12th Anniversary of Life-Sized Gingerbread House Creation
As the holiday season approaches, Chef Jade Bowser and her pastry team are preparing to create a life-sized gingerbread house that will be displayed throughout the winter in the lobby of the Walt Disney World Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Orlando, a 12-year tradition. Chef Jade credits Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Miami for providing her the necessary skills to succeed as both a chef and a career-changer.
"I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue a new career in pastry art," said Chef Jade, who is currently a pastry cook at the Walt Disney World Grand Floridian Resort and Spa in Miami. "Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts was a great platform to reinforce this realization."
After losing her job as an office manager, Jade took the opportunity to pursue her lifelong passion – baking. She enrolled in the pâtisserie and baking program at Le Cordon Bleu and graduated in 2009.
Jade was attracted to Le Cordon Bleu for its global reputation as a leader in French culinary techniques. She says her instructors served as important examples as strong mentors and leaders. "Without their training, I never would have become as successful as I am now," says Chef Jade, who expects to spend at least 400 hours baking more than 10,000 pieces of gingerbread before the opening.
Getting to Know Jade – Q/A
Le Cordon Bleu alumni Chef Jade Bowser "believes in the magic" of pastry through passion and training.
When did you realize cooking was your passion and how were you inspired to enroll in culinary school?
I first realized cooking was my passion and that I loved to bake when I was old enough to stand on a stool in my mom's kitchen and stir the brownies! I should have known when I started making éclairs at the age of 13, but it took another 14 years or so for me to realize that I was meant to work in pastry all my life. The suffering economy turned into a blessing for me when losing my job allowed me to enroll in Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Miami. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue a new career in pastry arts. This realization was enforced the first time I made a bride cry on her wedding day because she loved her cake THAT much. What an amazing feeling to know that you have found exactly what you are supposed to do! It's amazing.
What is one thing that you learned in culinary school that has proven to be indispensible throughout your culinary career?
So many chefs and instructors molded me into the person and cook that I am today. However, one chef taught me that regardless of what is going on in the kitchen; employees can be treated with respect and dignity. No one should be yelled at or mistreated, and no one is less than or more than the cook standing next to them. He showed me that this industry is more than the hustle and bustle and adrenaline we have all come to know (and for the most part love). He showed me that given the right circumstances, it can and will be family.
What was your first job after graduating?
My first job after graduating was an internship at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. My main goal was to get hired full time. I let them know my goals on my first day, and it has been a whirlwind ever since! I was offered a job within three weeks, working at the Grand Floridian making fine dining desserts for Disney's only five diamond restaurant Victoria and Albert's. During the time I was on the Victoria and Albert's team, this restaurant was awarded the AAA Five Diamond Award for the tenth year in a row. To be so fresh out of pastry school and be a part of this was just an amazing experience and a total dream come true. Two months later, I was moved to the weddings team and have been there now for more than a year. In ten years, I hope to own a bake shop in Seaside, Florida.
What Le Cordon Bleu foundational technique do you feel is the most important skill to master?
I think the most beneficial skill I learned was how to teach others. If you have this incredible knowledge and skill base that you acquired at school and you cannot train someone to do the same thing, it seems almost a waste to me. I love that I can take my passion and skill and teach someone else how to decorate a beautiful cake, or the fundamentals of the station I am working. Of course, you cannot teach passion. If someone has passion and a willingness to learn, having the ability to teach them will create a valuable addition to this industry.
What trends do you see showing up in the kitchens around the country and what trends do you see gaining more popularity this year?
As far as pastry trends, I think cupcakes have made an incredible surge in popularity during the last 10 or so years. I think that French Macaroons are going to make this same surge. Americans are now learning the true deliciousness that is a French Macaroon, because it is showing up in bake shops across the country. It's amazing to see the transformation and to also see chef's play around with the flavor profiles.
What are some fall wedding trends that you see this year?
We are starting to see a lot of weddings featuring small confections in a buffet style presentation. Similar to how the candy buffet became popular a few years ago. Now brides are having multiple small desserts like, small tarts, cupcakes, French macaroons, whoopie pies and/or dessert lollipops, just to name a few.
What is your favorite type of cake?
My favorite cake is white cake with white butter cream, but second to that would be German chocolate cake! Yum!
What style of cuisine do you most enjoy, other than baking?
Hands down; southern food. Growing up in the South, I experienced so many wonderful foods, there is just something comforting about southern food.
What working chef inspires you?
My boss Chef Erich Herbitschek - as the executive pastry chef of Walt Disney World Resort and also the executive pastry chef for the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, he inspires me daily. It has been amazing to have a boss that makes you feel like you have a place in his kitchen. He treats each and every one of us with dignity and respect, and you see it in our final products. When you are happy in your job, your work reflects that feeling and he encourages this type of environment everyday. I also had the pleasure of meeting Jacques Torres last year. He has been such a leader in modernizing and making pastry cooking mainstream. While his pastries and chocolates are amazing and pieces of art in their own right, he exudes passion and inspiration in every single word he speaks. I have never met anyone that has ever shown true love of their craft in one smile. And that is exactly what he does. Say hello to him, and you will forever know his passion for pastry.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a culinary career?
Keep at it. We learn from our failures. If you mess something up, try it again and you will find the second time will be better than the first and the sixteenth time will be better than the second. Another piece of advice I would give someone looking to pursue a culinary career is to always practice your skills and remember that as long as you love what you are doing, your final products will reflect that.