Kate Braun works in the Charlotte Campus’ culinary office, where she helps organize the various Distinguished Visiting Chef (DVC) events. But this baking & pastry major never expected to become a DVC scholarship recipient herself.
“I never imaged I’d be chosen,” she says, still amazed. “When I told my parents, a lot of tears were shed. I’ve never felt so proud of myself.”
Taking Inspiration from an AlumAnother thrill came from assisting at DVC Ben Roche’s culinary demo. (Braun is pictured at right with Roche.)
“He emphasized taking inspiration from other chefs and your environment,” she says, noting that the biggest takeaway was to “keep learning, no matter where you are in your career.” Braun was wowed by Roche’s playfully experimental approach to desserts. “I’d love to make any of his desserts. The way he made the ice cream by pouring liquid nitrogen on it was brilliant — so efficient!” From the Family Kitchen to JWUKate grew up in the kitchen. “My grandfather taught me how to make bread,” she recalls. “I can still feel his flour-covered hands on mine while showing me how to braid zupfa, a Swiss bread similar to challah.” Even when she was too small to reach the counter, she stood on a kitchen stool so she could stir batter and scoop cookie dough. She’s been baking ever since. Before long, she became the designated family baker: “I make all the Christmas cookies every year,” she says. “It’s a huge responsibility!” Doing What She LovesBaking wasn’t Kate’s first career choice: “I was a psychology major, but realized that it’s more important to do something I love.” Everything clicked into place when she transferred to JWU in 2009. “I instantly realized that baking is something I’m meant to do,” she says. “It’s therapeutic, allows me to express my creativity, and it’s so much fun!” Last fall, she interned at Greensboro Day School, an elementary school in Greensboro, NC, where she was responsible for making cupcakes, cookies, muffins and scones. “It was my first real experience in the industry and I couldn’t get enough of it!” she enthuses. Kate received her associate degree in Baking & Pastry Arts this spring. Thanks to the financial support of the DVC scholarship, she has decided to stay on to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Food Service Management. “It’s a sign,” she says, smiling. “This is meant to be.”