Batter Chatter: Interview with Cordon Bleu Student Jess Abas

Batter chatter: Interview with Jess Abas 

So you wanna quit your job and become a baker. Sure, it sounds glamorous and fun--a world of buttercream and sugar! All sweetness all the time!--but what is it like, you know, before the Food Network tapes start rolling? Recently, we took some time to discuss the life of a budding pastry chef with Jess Abas, who knows what it's like to work (and travel) for pastry--she moved from Tulsa, OK to enroll in the patisserie program at the Scottsdale, AZ outpost of Le Cordon Bleu. From what we see (including a fantastic Cakespy-inspired cake!) she knows her way around a kitchen--and residents of Nashville can rejoice, because upon graduating, she's already secured a position at Sugar Bar, which is slated to open in Spring 2009.


Cakespy Note: The photos used are all Jess' creations--they're all ssignments and baking projects!

Cakespy: What made you decide to study patisserie and baking?

Jess Abas: Growing up cooking was always a big part of my family: at the holidays, dinners, etc. My Dad was always involved in the food industry (i.e. working at Sysco, owning a restaurant equipment company, and owning a couple food establishments). Also, my big influence is my Grandmother. When I was younger she was always baking cookies and she always let me help her decorate with sprinkles and whatnot. Food was always an activity I was welcomed to help with and I loved that. That kind of food always reminds people of home, I think. That's why I just had to be a part of it.


Meringues by JessCakes by Jess
CS: From what we hear, studying at Le Cordon Bleu is a very intense experience. Is it as hard/competitive as we hear?
JA: This school is definitely intense! They take what would normally take a couple years and condense it into one year (that's for the degree program). It's set up crazy but way worth it once you get to the end. The hardest part about the school is that it moves so fast that you sometimes (a lot) do not have time to perfect all the skills. You learn it, do it a couple times, and then you move on to the next thing. That always frustrates a lot of the students. Being in the this field turns everyone into a perfectionist, I think.

Entreme by Jess AbasCake by Jess
And yes, the school is really competitive. It's like 30 students all studying the same specialty, in one classroom... You always see people sneaking glances at your stuff and wonder what they are thinking. Than, you hear other people's grades and compare your stuff to theirs.
Pastillage by Cakespy reader Jess!
CS: Do you think that attending culinary school has changed the way you look at baked goods / pastries in bakeries or restaurants? More appreciative? More critical?
JA: Going to school has completely changed the way I see everything. It makes me both--more appreciative, in that I know the effort and time someone put in to get that product--and critical, in that now I know they way some things are supposed to taste and look from a classic stand-point. Although, I must say I just love old-fashioned baking (that's the best).

Harlequin Rolls by JessCake by Jess
CS: You currently study in Scottsdale. Are there any pastries or bakeries that simply cannot be missed for visitors?
JA: Scottsdale is great! There are tons of restaurants and little bake shops, everywhere. Definitely, go to one of the school's restaurants. They have one at both campuses.

Breakfast tart by JessPie by Jess
CS: What is your favorite baked good to make?
JA: I love baking anything, really. Pies, cookies, brownies, cakes, anything! As long as it tastes good, Ha! I find myself going back to making pies & cobblers, a lot. It's minimal ingredients, fresh fruit, slow-baked... how could it not be good? And they are great because the ingredients change according to season.

CS: What are your favorite baked goods to eat?
JA: My favorite things to eat? Absolutely everything, haha! I have a sweet tooth, that's for sure. I really love a great cookie with a glass of milk or a slice of pie with some ice cream. You know? The stuff that my Grandma would make.

Crumble by Jess

CS: What is your ultimate goal as a baker?
JA: Oh wow! That's a hard question. My ultimate goal is to attempt to make as much delicious food as possible and try and bring as much joy to the people I am giving it to, as it brings me to bake it. I would love to just feed everyone, feed all the hungry.


CS: Do you have any advice for others who may be considering culinary school? Stuff you wish you knew before you started, tips, etc?
JA: If it's what you love to do, whether it be baking or cooking.. Just, go for it! School is a great way to get better and train and hone your skills. It's also a great way to network with other people in the industry. And you have to be committed, it's a tough school, it's a tough field, and it's a tough job. Just love it and do it.

As you can see, Jess is not only sweet but wise too! For more information on Le Cordon Bleu's programs, visit this site; to find out more about Jess' future workplace, visit!