For 27 years, the U.S. Pastry Competition, hosted by Paris Gourmet, has provided opportunities for experienced professionals and up-and-coming pastry chefs to display the best of their talents. As the most prestigious pastry competition in the country, the event has long been an incredible opportunity for networking and career advancement.

This year, a team of three ICE pastry students—Pooja Jhunjhunwala, Marcela Torres and Anne Roche—entered the competition’s Junior Pastry Challenge. Mentored by ICE Chefs Kathryn Gordon and Michael Laiskonis, the students were charged with submitting a plated dessert, petits fours and a showpiece inspired by the theme “Magic and Illusions.”

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For many students, competition may not have crossed their mind as a way to advance their careers. “We went from zero to 60 in one day,” says Marcela. “For example, when we started training for the competition, we hadn’t yet studied chocolate in class—and we built a full chocolate showpiece!”

Pooja added that working with ICE Creative Director Michael Laiskonis was a highlight of the process: “Spending multiple days training with [James Beard Award winning] Chef Michael Laiskonis on plated desserts and petits fours was like…A Beautiful Mind, but for pastry!” As an international student, the competition also represented a unique opportunity for Pooja to reach a career milestone in the United States.

“Doing the competition definitely reinforced the fact that I made the right decision by coming to pastry school. If we won second place—that means we’re really doing something right,” adds Marcela.

To learn more about ICE’s award-winning pastry program, click here.

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