- Baking & Culinary
Her Penn College experience was nothing short of extraordinary. She trained in state-of the-art labs motivated by passionate faculty. She worked alongside world-renowned chefs at Churchill Downs to prepare high-end menus for the iconic Kentucky Derby. She embarked on a transformative 16-day global experience to Italy, where she explored a world of culture and cuisine. All of these opportunities prepared Hannah for the career of her dreams. Today she's working at the Lodge at Woodloch, an all-inclusive retreat in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains dedicated to health and wellness through holistic activities and mindful farm-to-table dining.
Leading the Way
Q&A with Hannah
HOW DOES THE WORLD OF HOSPITALITY INSPIRE YOU?
The hospitality industry is constantly changing. New ideas are arising. Trends are coming and going. As a chef speaking, guests' wants and needs are constantly changing as well. Some countries, like Italy, are built on traditions and culture rather than the changing trends. If something's not broken, don't fix it. While I am trying to keep up with the constant trends of the culinary and pastry worlds, coming back to the traditions for a change can be really eye-opening. This allows me to explore everything from having those "light bulb" moments to new ideas or returning to old ones with new twists.
HOW IS PENN COLLEGE HELPING YOU ACHIEVE YOUR EDUCATIONAL AND PROFESSIONAL GOALS?
Penn College really opened a lot of doors I never expected. I was able to do everything from working at the Kentucky Derby alongside classmates to landing an internship at a top destination spa that turned into a full-time job. During my time at Penn College, I really discovered my inner creativity by finding food combinations and trying them. Even today, I'm constantly writing down ideas during and out of work. I went into the labs with the goal of using my time to improve myself as a student, and most importantly, as a chef in the industry. I'm always up for a good challenge. That's who I am. And the labs presented those opportunities. Taking challenging courses with tight schedules while balancing a part-time job at Le Jeune Chef, allowed me to gain experience in and out of labs.
PLEASE SHARE YOUR MOST IMPACTFUL MOMENT WHILE TRAVELING TO ITALY WITH YOUR CLASSMATES.
This was while walking through the World War II cemetery in Nettuno. It was the hottest day of the week, but the cemetery was beautiful. Lauren, one of our chaperones, was searching for a headstone that belonged to the grandfather of a friend of hers. I also had family members who served in the war so it really hit the heart. Another thought that came to my mind was that my family is lucky that all who served arrived home safely. There are still families today that have family members missing because of how tragic it was.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU SHARE WITH OTHERS CONSIDERING A GLOBAL EXPERIENCE?
Do your own independent research on the culture and plan to blend in (this was discussed in class). Blending in will allow you to experience the trip on a different level because you won't stand out. Learn the basic conversation phrases for the language; it's quite difficult and something I regret not doing. If this is something you want to do, go for it. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Doing this on your own wouldn't be the same. There's no way to put a price on this because the memories I have and the pictures I took are unforgettable.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO ALL WHO INVESTED IN YOUR GLOBAL EXPERIENCE?
Thank you so much for this opportunity. This would not have been possible without your support. This has been a bucket list item of mine for years, but I never thought it would be possible in college. Not only has it opened my eyes to future traveling adventures in the works, but it has helped me improve flavor exploration and understand the importance of simplicity.
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE PROFESSOR AND WHY?
This is certainly a difficult question. I can honestly say that I can't pick a favorite. The short time with Chef T. (Mary Trometter) allowed me to travel the world and explore via a student's point of view. This also began my traveling adventures. When it comes to labs, both Chef Todd (Keeley) and Chef Charles (Niedermyer) have very different experiences and backgrounds. This is what makes the labs fantastic, because both care about helping us become successful in our careers. One grew up as a cake decorator in his family's bakery and is now helping future decorators and business owners. The other is a chef who started at the bottom and worked his way up the ladder of kitchen leadership, earning recognition as one of the top pastry chefs. Today they push us to do better and better in every class and in every lab. They encourage us to think outside of the box and realize that anything can be possible.
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