Graduation Day

Sunday, December 23, 2012
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On December 21, 2012, I graduated pastry school – and thankfully, the world did not end. 

My parents and my sister Hannah drove to Chicago from Missouri on Wednesday, and I was able to spend the day with them on Thursday.  I played hooky on Thursday and missed my first (and last) day of pastry school.  It was worth it though because I got to hang out with my family and explore the windy city.

Well, somewhat.  It was very cold and rainy so we shopped a lot and spent a long time at Trader Joe’s.  I did most of my Christmas shopping there. 

Everyone woke up early on Friday to get ready for the graduation held at the Union League Club at 8:30 AM.   Yes, I know – that’s early.  I was blurry eyed when I was fixing my hair and makeup.  We had to wear a black skirt or black pants, our chef jackets, and heels. 

It was fun taking my family on the express bus downtown.  They got to experience the joy of public transportation.  We were seated by alphabetical order, and then listened to quite a few speeches.  My friend Camille spoke and represented our class!  She did a great job. 

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Then they called out our names, we shook Franco Pacini’s hand, and we accepted our diploma.  That’s me in the picture.  I rocked those boots from H&M. 

Afterwards, instead of throwing our caps in the air, we threw our framed diplomas.

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My sister Hannah.


They took our class picture afterwards.  I’m really going to miss these guys.

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Some of the gals.  I wish I could have gotten more pictures of my classmates, but it was kind of hectic. 
Pictured: Me, Stella, Fatma, Cynthia, Camille, Kim, Annie.

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We walked over to the French Pastry School for the grand buffet. 


Each class made recipes that we’d learned in the program.  My class had breads and breakfast pastries.  Other classes had plated desserts, mousse cakes, tarts, petit fours, chocolate candies, and sugar candies. 

Above: financier, opera cake, tarts, madeleines, macarons.


Danish and cinnamon rolls.
Plated desserts.  Sorry for the bad pictures.  There were little mousse cakes, panna cotta, crème brulee, and more. 


Croissants and brioche.



We feasted and celebrated at the buffet for a while before heading back to our apartment. 

It was a great day – one I will never forget.  I’m so thankful that my family and Eric could celebrate the big day with me. 

Thanks to all of you for your support and sticking by my side through this pastry school journey.  This was something I’ve wanted to do since I graduated high school.  It took  years to save the money and to decide on a school.  I started to believe it would never happen for me.  

I’m so glad I took the risk and decided to apply in January.  I don’t regret my decision.  It was time.  I needed a change, and I needed it then.

I am absolutely happy with my education at the French Pastry School.  The experience was life-changing, to say the least.  I think I grew up (a little).  I feel like a stronger person.  I feel more confident in my pastry abilities now.  I feel more organized.  More disciplined. 

As sappy as it sounds, dreams really do come true.  I can now check off “go to pastry school” off of my bucket list.  How is school over already?  Who knew six months in pastry school could go by so fast?  I’m so sad.  But I am excited for the next step, whatever that might be.

And now, I give you my final thoughts on pastry school:

#1 – I love eating chocolate candies.  That’s what I filled up on at the grand buffet.

#2 – Pulling sugar is hard and it hurts real bad. 

#3 – Weigh your ingredients.

#4 – There’s no crying in pastry.

#5 – Homemade marshmallows are delicious.

#6 – Don’t beat puff pastry with your rolling pin because you’ll destroy the lamination.

#7 – You can microwave a metal bowl if it doesn’t touch the sides of the microwave.

#8 – Glucose is the secret ingredient in most pastries.

#9 – Favorite class: breads

#10 – Favorite thing to eat besides chocolate candies: ice cream cake.

#11 – Least favorite thing to eat: nougat mousse cake. 

#12 – Sift your flour and confectioners’ sugar.

#13 – Most interesting subject: macarons.

#14 – Most rewarding project: my croquembouche.

#15 – Favorite chef(s) Chef Jacquy,  Chef Scott, Chef Josh, and Chef Della.

If anyone has any questions about attending the French Pastry School, feel free to email me. 

Well, thank you for reading!  I hope you have a good Christmas!  I’m going to go spend time with my family.  We’re having roasted chestnuts.  I think I’m going to make eggnog tomorrow night and a Christmas-y dessert. 
65 comments on "Graduation Day"
  1. Congratulations, Emily! That is so exciting and I'm so happy for you. I've enjoyed reading your blog for a while now - hard to believe it's been over 2 years since I've been reading!! (I think). Your writing is funny, thoughtful, and you are obviously one talented baker! Best of luck in whatever you decide to do next - I hope you'll continue to blog!!

  2. Wow many congratulations. It looks like a wonderful day. Great achievement and I wish you a wonderful Christmas and many exciting times ahead in the future. I always dreamed of going to pastry school too, so I've loved loving it through your experiences. Are you going to get a job as a pastry chef now? You are certainly talleneted enough
    Have a great Christmas!

  3. Congratulations, Emily! I remember when I started following your blog how you dreamt of pastry school and it sounded so difficult to achieve, and now you've graduated from a really great school! You can be proud :) And thank you for sharing everything here, it's been fascinating.

    Wishing you a happy Christmas!

  4. congratulations to you, emily, and happy holidays!

  5. Congratulations, Emily! You look so pretty and happy in the pictures. It must have been a great experience. Thank you so much for all the great post you ve been writing. I feel a liitle bit like being in pastry school as well! :)
    Merry Christmas from the Czech Republic! :)

  6. So happy for you Em. What a great 6 months you had fulfilling one of your dreams. I am happy we got to see it almost daily. Best wishes on whatever your path takes you in the future. Have a wonderful Christmas with your family. Looking forward to more exciting things from you in 2013.

  7. Congratulations Emily, you've worked hard, learned valuable information and techniques and had fun at the same time. All the best to you in 2013 and enjoy the holidays!

  8. So proud of you Emily! Congratulations!! Merry Christmas!!

  9. Congratulations Emily!!!!! I think you showed a lot of courage by chosing to go to pastry school and to change your life... Have a happy Christmas!

  10. Congratulations! What an awesome Christmas gift for you :)

  11. Congratulation! It's been great following along with your pastry classes! I actually signed up for pastry classes recently, and I'm very excited! It's a small, really low key, part time program that'll take about a year to work through.

    Thanks for the tip about microwaving the metal bowl, I will definitely try that!

    Merry Christmas!

    1. Thank you, Sarah! That'll be so much fun. Good luck!

  12. I was so excited for you when you began, and I'm even more thrilled now that you graduated, Emily! Your outfit was great, btw. I wish I had an H&M!

    1. You can always come to Chicago and we'll go to H&M together.... :)

  13. Congratulations to you!!! Also Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  14. Congratulations Emily - so proud of you!!!

    It's been a lot of fun 'going to pastry school' with you. You've worked so hard to get there and at your classes - you really deserve this.

    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family and take a bit of down-time.

  15. Congratulations!!! I'm so happy for you. Going for your dreams isn't easy, and it's so nice to see you succeed! Also, the picture of the reenactment is the best :)

  16. Congrats! You did yourself proud, girl! On to the next chapter.

  17. Congrats!! Are you moving back home or staying in Chicago?

  18. Congratulations! I am so proud of you. You are going to go far in the pastry world now. I just know it!

  19. Congratulations, Emily!! I'm so proud of you!! It has been such an adventure reading about your move to Chicago and your daily pastry school classes, and I have enjoyed reading every single blog post! I am anxiously awaiting to see what is next on your life's itinerary. I am sure it will be something exciting - not like working at Lambert's!! ha ha!!

    Thank you for the wonderful graduation post, too! It is just amazing what you have done!
    Jane in Springfield, Missouri

    P.S. We have a new Five Guys hamburger place at the Battlefield Mall now. And a Freddy's frozen custard near the Sam's Club on S. Campbell. I'm sure there's more, but that's all I can think of right now!

    1. Thank you, Jane! I want to try that Freddy's. Do you think it's better than Andy's? ;)

  20. Congrats!! Macarons are my mega-downfall. I cannot resist them. Good thing I don't get to see them very often! I've gotta make a vegan version!

    1. That would be wonderful! Tricky, though. What would you sub for the egg whites? Oh, and thank you! Sorry I didn't get to see you in chicago.

  21. Congratulations - wonderful achievement! Thanks for taking the time to document and photograph your days, it was very interesting. I hope you continue your blog with rest of your adventures!

  22. WAY TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I can't wait to come try some of your baking... wherever you end up!

    All the best,


  23. Congratulations! I will miss reading about all of your pastry school adventures.

  24. You are awesome! You have come so far and have made it through with flying colors. I have loved reading about all your experiences and just know that you have some amazing adventures ahead of you. Congratulations!!!

  25. Congratulations on your graduation from pastry school! I know that this has been a dream of yours for a long time. I'm really happy for you! Best of luck for the future.

  26. Congratulations! The whole experience sounds amazing! Best of luck in the future!

  27. #7 terrifies me. I don't know if I'm brave enough to test that in my own microwave :)

    Congrats on your graduation, and thanks for sharing your experience with us! I look forward to seeing what comes next for you!

    1. Maggie, I probably wouldn't try it. I'm not sure what type of metal bowl it was!

  28. Though we have never met, I am really happy for you and this wonderfully rewarding and life-changing experience you worked so hard for! Excited to see where these new steps in your journey will take you :)

    Thanks for the tips! Totally roasted chestnuts (on an open stove) for the first time on Christmas Eve - yum!

  29. congrats! so proud of you! I agree, homemade marshmallows are the best!

  30. Just a lurker who has viewed your blog for a while now. I'll miss seeing the daily updates and pictures of the treats you were making. I only wish I had the time or nerve to leave my job so I got to live vicariously through you. You achieved a wonderful accomplishment as some of us are too old or too scared to actually chase our dreams. Congratulations!

  31. Quite an accomplishment. I envy you. If I had started sooner in life I would have loved to do what you did. Oh wellz. I can live vicariously through you-heh. Now I am encouraged to make marshmallows and macarons. Hope you stay safe in Chicago. Happy New Year!

  32. Congratulations, Emily! I'm so glad you had such a great experience at pastry school.