Finding my sweet niche

By Breana Alper
ICC Professional Pastry Arts 2016

Growing up in an Italian household, I would always come home to a house filled with many delicious aromas. My mom would have sauces boiling on the stove while making one of my favorite desserts, banana bread, which was also the first dessert I mastered. My mom would always be the cook and I eventually took on the role of the dessert maker. I guess you could say that’s how I fell in love with baking. After dinner each night, my family couldn’t wait to see what kind of dessert I had chosen to make. It was most likely something with chocolate, since I basically eat, breathe, and drink chocolate!

I have always been searching for my “niche” in life, but couldn’t find it…until recently. What I failed to realize was that the answer was right in front of me the entire time. I Love To Bake! Baking is literally the one thing I am good at that I have consistently done throughout my life. I was baking all the time, my mom jokingly blamed me in advance for all the weight she suspected she would gain from eating the baked goods!

Breana Alper International Culinary Center

A family friend of mine always comes into my house and says “Ay Betty Crocker, what’s crackin’! What are ya baking today?” To this very day he still calls me “Betty Crocker” any time he sees me. What he doesn’t know is that this nickname will always encourage me to push myself a little further each time I bake something. I love seeing the expressions on people’s faces whenever they eat something that I spent whole day baking.

For me, baking is a time to get away from all my thoughts and feelings and just focus on one thing — perfecting whatever dessert I decide to take on. I bake because it is something that I enjoy doing, not necessarily because I want to eat what I make. In my mind, baking was just a hobby that I loved and nothing more. I never thought I could bake as my career, but people started suggesting it more and more. This is how my story begins.

Six months ago, I decided to take a huge step away from the path that everyone says you need to follow — college. I was starting my junior year at The University of Delaware when I reached a point where I said to myself, “Isn’t now the time when I am supposed to be pursuing my dreams and passions?” So I told my parents that I needed to find my real direction, which meant taking time off from school. Thankfully, they were nothing but super supportive. They are the ones who pushed me to pursue culinary school and even came with me to tour International Culinary Center in New York City. My mom was in awe the whole time, because she has also always dreamt of attending culinary school.

Breana Pastry School Student

Fast-forward to the present and I am now on day 21 of the Professional Pastry Arts program, with aches in my back and pain in my feet, but I couldn’t be happier! There was a lot of back and forth in my mind choosing between pastry and culinary arts. It was a hard decision to make, but in the end I am glad that I chose the pastry route. There is something special about being surrounded by people from all over the world who share the same passion as you. Each and every day gives me the validation that I made the right choice coming to The International Culinary Center!

– Breana
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