Baking & Pastry Arts student Kara Schnaus loves creating new pastries with exciting new flavors. She comes by her passion for baking honestly. Kara jokingly remarks, “My family says that I was born with flour and sugar in my blood; my grandmother had a bakery/ catering business and I decorated my first wedding cake when I was about seven. I was born to do this. It is my dream.”
Dream is becoming a reality
Kara recently was one of the top six culinary school finalists in the Cacao Barry L’art du Chocolatier Challenge held at the famous Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy in Chicago. Kara told The Herald that she “had just come off the Dumante competition at Sullivan and had spent an entire break developing recipes for that; so I tweaked the original recipe and came up with the new one I did in Chicago. Pistachio and white chocolate were meant to be together. I tossed in some pears, sparkling wine, and raspberry – then BOOM – magic. It tasted great.” The judges, who were all the professional competitors competing the next day for $10,000, agreed and awarded Kara third place with a $500 cash prize, plus $500 worth of chocolate.
Great networking experience
The competion was designed to encourage chefs and soon-to-be-chefs to express their creativity using fine French Cacao Berry chocolate. More than 300 were competitors, narrowed to six who had to recreate their recipes in front of a panel of world-renowned chefs. It may sound stressful but Kara enjoyed her experience. “The competition was so much fun. I met so many wonderful people. Those chef’s knew their stuff, let me tell you. They had just come off the World Chocolate Masters in Las Vegas right before we did the competition in Chicago. It was so cool seeing them on television and then having them pat me on the back the next day. Everyone at the Chocolate Academy was very welcoming; they all just wanted to teach us what they knew. I learned so much from Chef Jérôme Landrieu, Technical Advisor of the Chicago Chocolate Academy. I would tell any student to compete if they get the chance. It’s a huge learning experience plus it gives you a chance to meet a lot of new people and try new things - make the most out of your time at Sullivan.”
Sullivan has inspired her
After she graduates, Kara had planned to work for Disney in Orlando, but “the more timeI spend in school the more I want to open my own place. There aren’t many ‘old school’ bakeries left in the area, ones taking the time to use the butter in their puff pastry or make the bread dough days in advance. I am thinking about bringing that back. Of course, if the Food Network calls to give me my own dessert show I wouldn’t turn them down!” Until she gets that call, Kara plans to take advantage of more opportunities to compete and plans to try out for Sullivan’s Culinary Competition team. Sounds like another winning combination!