Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Browner.
Hi Rachel, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today.
Ever since I can remember, baking was my one true passion. Once I was tall enough to reach the kitchen counter by standing on a chair I was helping my mother bake bread, cookies, and many other pastries. I knew that I wanted to make my passion my career. I graduated high school early and was accepted into the French Pastry School in Chicago. Youngest in my class, I was determined even more so to not just succeed but to become the best that I could be. Once I graduated and became certified I ended up moving back home.
It took me several years to figure out what I really wanted. I worked in many bakeries in the St. Louis area and finally landed at Comet Coffee, where I worked my way up to becoming head baker and manager. I am also beginning to create my own small business, taking orders for weddings, birthdays, and other occasions. I love to create savory pastries, as well as tarts, cakes, and everything in between. Traditionally, I am French trained, but I like to use those skills to create new innovative pastries. I believe there is always more to learn, which is why being a chef is so amazing. There are always new boundaries to push, and new creations to make.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I have definitely had my fair share of struggles. From the early age of 12, I struggled with self-esteem and fitting in. It didn’t take long for an eating disorder to start developing. After a few years, it had rapidly taken over my life, resulting in hospitalization and almost death. I was told many times that because of my eating disorder I would not succeed in a career as a chef. I refused to let myself become defeated by this. My eating disorder followed me into early adulthood where I traded it for more bad habits.
Even though by now I had my pastry certification my life spiraled downwards for some time. After losing almost everything I began to seek recovery, and started to repair myself, and my life. I still wanted more than anything to become a successful pastry chef, and I knew that in order to do that I had to be my best self. I am not ashamed of the struggles that I have had to endure. I believe that they have only made me stronger, and given me a better perspective on life. I’ve worked extremely hard to be where I am today. I will never stop fighting and continuing to become the best that I can be. Both as a pastry chef, and as a person.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a professional French pastry chef. Classically trained, I like to use those techniques to create unique and bold pastries. I would probably say that I specialize in tarts. Although cakes would probably be a close second, there’s just an endless amount of creativity in making a tart. I also love to create savory pastries and a tart shell is a perfect vessel for that. I am probably most proud of the wedding cakes and pastries that I have made.
Putting in the hours to make such a stunning creation, and then getting to see the reaction of the wedding party is really something that is priceless. I believe that my creativity, determination, and age sets me apart from others. I know that I am young, so being able to create the kind of pastries that look professional and taste beautiful feels amazing. I am a strong woman and a hard worker. I am certain that my career as a pastry chef is just beginning.
Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
I am definitely a perfectionist, which can be both a good and a bad thing. I think the most important lesson I’ve learned is that making mistakes is just part of the job. Especially when I am creating my own recipes, it takes a lot of trial and error.
What’s important is that if you fall, you pick yourself back up and learn from it. I am often very hard on myself, and sometimes I just have to look back and see how far I’ve come. Baking isn’t just following recipes, it’s art, and more importantly, it’s science. The only way to better yourself is to just go for it, and if it doesn’t turn out, learn why, and try it again.
- Instagram: @brownerbaking
- Facebook: Rachel Browner