And other sweet anecdotes from a recent culinary graduate.
Danna Vu graduated from Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland two years ago and has since done an apprenticeship with the World’s Best Pastry Chef, baked cookies for President Obama and will be representing Sweden in the upcoming Culinary World Cup in November.
Baking has given me greater meaning and a purpose. I have learnt a lot about food, discipline, dedication and above all, it’s what I enjoy doing the most. It is an interest that has grown stronger with time and it feels very natural and right for me
Tell us about your journey as a Pastry Chef – how did you start and how did you get to where you are today?
I love all things sweet and I’ve always enjoyed the creative process. I knew early on that I wanted to pursue cooking so in high school I enrolled in the restaurant and food programme where I specialised in bakery and patisserie and did an apprenticeship with the World’s Best Pastry Chef for 2017, Anders Oskarsson.
After high school I knew if I wanted to build a successful career in this industry, I had to move to Switzerland and learn from the best.
My time at the Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland was intense but I learned so much about pastry and importance of teamwork in the kitchen. It was an amazing experience studying with people from all over the world, who came together because of our shared passion for food.
I then did my internship at the Mandarin Oriental in Geneva where I learned a lot about French pastry, before coming back to Sweden to continue developing my skills and gaining more experience in this field. Today I am a Pastry Chef at Dessert & Choklad Stockholm where I create amazing desserts, from delicate pralines to elaborate wedding cakes.
How did the opportunity to bake cookies for President Barack Obama come about? Did you get any feedback from him after he tried them?
It was back in 2013 when I was an apprentice at Dessert & Choklad Stockholm. We received an order from the Prime Minister of Sweden who wanted cookies that didn’t smudge your fingers, for a meeting planned with with Mr. Barack Obama.
We chose three different types of Swedish cookies - Chokladsnittar, Drömmar and cookies with spelt, pecan nuts and cranberries.
After the meeting, we received feedback from Mr.Obama’s team that he would come back to Sweden just to have our cookies again!
How did you get into the Stockholm Culinary Team? Could you tell me more about what you do as a team?
I’ve always wanted to join a culinary competition! I heard through an acquaintance that the Stockholm Culinary Team was looking for new members, specifically for the pastry category. I wrote a letter to the Team Manager and from there everything fell into place. After two interviews, I met the team the same week and got the news that I was accepted.
There are 13 members in our team and we are divided into different categories. In the first category there are three members who are responsible for tapas, the second category focuses on three-course and five-course menus and the last category, which I’m in, is responsible for desserts and petit fours. We are working on presenting five different plated desserts and four different petit fours.
Could you tell us more about the Culinary World Cup?
The Culinary World Cup 2018 will be held in Luxembourg in November 2018. It is a prestigious competition and regarded as the second most important culinary competition worldwide. Teams from all around the world will compete against each other over four days of competition.
We have been training for months, sacrificing personal time with family and friends to perfect our craft. Our team is very dedicated and driven and we are really excited to present our creations to the judges.
How important is teamwork as a pastry chef?
It is second to none.
When you meet people with a common philosophy on food and share the same goals and determination, the collaboration becomes incredible! Being happy is fantastic, but being able to share your happiness is amazing.
Danna graduated with a Certificate in Swiss Pastry and Chocolate Arts:
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