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What's New at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts > Alumni Spotlight

Alumni Spotlight

posted on September 29, 2010
Name: Kaori P.

Program:  Baking & Pastry Arts

Graduating Class: December 2008

Current Position: Chocolatier position with Dominique Persoone at The Chocolate Line, in Bruges. 
When did you decide you wanted a cooking career? Why? 
I quit my job as a senior financial analyst for CB Richard Ellis Investment Properties Group in Vancouver for something more soulful, but with the same intensity for precision and complexity, so I decided to choose the Baking and Pastry Arts program.

What obstacles or challenges did you have to overcome to pursue your career?
Leaving a 6-figure income, and starting back at square one.  Then working through the blood sweat and tears to achieve something truly beautiful.
I've also fought my way to learn for free, just to be able to learn
the techniques I now master.  After surviving through a professional kitchen in Paris, to the heart of chocolate making in Flemish speaking Belgium, with a Chef from Holland, and colleagues from West Flanders (the equivalent of English spoken in Halifax) and a rock and roll Owner, who has a tattoo of a Michelin man holding a cacao bean, and swings with the likes of Heston Blumenthal.  I've had to learn quickly, and through the hours of labor, immigration processes, language courses, and racism, I really feel like I have grown as a person and fostered techniques and knowledge that cannot be learned in a book.

How did your education at Pacific Institute Of Culinary Arts prepare you for your career?
The wide variety of European classic pastries and bread making techniques taught by passionate and dedicated chef instructors helped set the foundation for my career.

What advice would you give to current or prospective students about having a successful career in Baking & Pastry Arts?
Itís a labor of love, you have to be passionate to succeed and it can be a truly rewarding and satisfying career.

Where did you first work after graduation?
First a short stint with DB Bistro Moderne, as a pastry commis.

What did you gain from this experience?
That working in a restaurant kitchen wasnít the right fit for me.  It helped me re-focused on my real goal, chocolate.

What do you enjoy most about your career?
If you make a mistake, itís just chocolate.  You can't help but smile round it.

Who or what has inspired you?
Pierre Herme, Sadaharu Aoki, Albert Adria, Yoshitomo Nara, Blythe Dolls, Vintage Textiles, Nature and the Nostalgic.

What are some of the top skills and or attributes that make a successful Chef?
Dedication, hard work, leadership, earning the respect of the kitchen without brute force, teaching, and creativity.