Life as a Pastry Student: The Singing Baker

From by Institute of Culinary Education
Life as a Pastry Student: The Singing Baker


By Alison Mahoney—Student, School of Pastry & Baking Arts


For me, baking started innocently, as all hobbies do: a chocolate chip cookie here; a pizzelle there; a wedding cake for a gluten-free friend. People started to tell me (often) "You should open a bakery." I laughed it off thinking, "Riiiiight…a musical theatre actor and night owl should definitely get up at 4 am to start baking bread." Not in this lifetime. Baking was just a sublime obsession, a creative outlet outside of my day-to-day grind of auditions and rehearsals. 

Alison Mahoney - Sweet Genius - Singing Baker - Pastry School - Pastry ChefYet, more and more, I found myself day-dreaming at auditions about what kind of baked good I would tackle that night. I would rush home with an hour or two between commitments to bake a cake, macarons or cookies, and then go out for the night. It suddenly became my routine, and boy did I love the challenge. Suddenly, I found myself in the kitchen three or four times a week. Singing had always been my first love, but baking? Baking was quickly becoming the dark horse.

My baking addiction got so out of hand that I actually found myself competing for baking domination on a Food Network show where I was the only home chef. I clearly could not hang with the big boys on national television, but I so desperately wanted to. I am creative and fast and loose in the kitchen, but I quickly learned that, when it comes to baking, a strong foundation in technique is truly what gives a chef freedom. I started researching pastry programs, seeking a curriculum that felt serious but not confining—a course that would teach me how to create something classic, but then encourage me to color outside of the lines. I found that place in ICE.