Meet Pastry Sous Chef Paola

Paola joined The Fearrington House Restaurant team in 2015 and was promoted to Pastry Sous Chef in 2016. Born and raised in Costa Rica, Paola worked in human resources and management before moving to the U.S. to enroll in culinary school. During culinary school, Paola was selected to work at the Food Network in New York City, where she developed and tested recipes. Now, Paola creates beautiful wedding and special event cakes, unique desserts and more for The Fearrington House Restaurant. Read more about her experiences below!

What initially made you interested in the culinary world?
I have always been interested in the culinary world, since I was very young. You could always find me in my mom’s kitchen trying to put together something nice with whatever I could find in the pantry. Actually, one of my favorite Christmas gifts was a little stove – which I was totally convinced it actually cooked, because you could see a little smoke coming out of the chimney and the pot will make bubbles when you put water in it. My parents had many meals served out of that little stove, but never had the heart to tell me that their food was never really hot enough!

Tell us a little about your culinary career so far?
I have been very blessed in my career so far. I’ve always been backed with hard work and good work ethics. I’ve had the great opportunity to work for the Food Network in New York City, which was a very interesting and valuable experience. Working in the kitchen at Fearrington, has been a continuous learning experience and a great stepping stone for my culinary career.

What are your main responsibilities in The Fearrington House kitchen?
I am in charge of Fearrington’s pastry team, the bread and chocolate programs, as well as designing and creating wedding cakes/desserts for the entire village. It takes a great team to bring it all together, but it’s worth it to bring a little bit of sweetness to our guests every day.

What’s your favorite dish to cook at home?
My favorite dish to make at home is gnocchi with my grandmother’s secret meat sauce. This dish is very special in my family, my grandmother used to make it for my dad, and now it has passed along to us. It’s my family’s special occasion dish.

How many wedding cakes have you made since working at Fearrington?
Wow, this is a difficult one! Just this year, we’ve created approximately 45 cakes so far.

Which wedding cake is your favorite?
As far as flavor, I love the coconut cake and the chocolate one. As far as designs, I really enjoy the challenging ones. When a bride comes to me with a very unique design that takes some thinking and the use of new “toys,” tools and techniques, oh, that makes my day!

What is the most challenging part of working in the kitchen?
I think the biggest challenge some of us face in the kitchen is to match and infuse the passion we feel for this career to the rest of our team members, and make sure they feel pride in the food they bring out there. We want to make sure they feel passionate about doing things right and bringing people’s culinary dreams to life.

What sweet treat do you love to indulge in?
Oh, chocolate, that is my sweet little secret!

See more of Paola’s beautiful creations on The Fearrington Barn’s Facebook page!

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