Chef Maria talks about her business and passion for baking.  


Pastry chef in the making

Long before the days of the Food Network, I can still recall childhood memories of learning to bake with my mom.  I mastered all the basics from a step stool pulled up to the counter in a small gallery kitchen in Upstate NY.   I had dreams of becoming a chef long before the rise of the celebrity chefs.  However, I put my dreams aside and pursued a Business Administration degree and eventually ended up in various IT-related positions.  Then somewhere between 2005-2006, everything changed.

Baking competition

A friendly baking rivalry at a weekly Bible study group re-ignited my passion for baking.  I wanted to learn more and go beyond what I learned in that gallery kitchen with my mom.  I suddenly found myself on a quest to find a baking/pastry school; one close enough that I wouldn't need to move.   I found, visited, fell in love with, and enrolled in the French Pastry School in Chicago.


Chicago commute

I commuted on Amtrak for 6 months, 5 days a week, 4-6 hours a day (depending on delays) to earn my L'Art de la Patisserie certificate.  When the 224 train trips were over, my business plan for my first bakery was also complete.  I opened a storefront bakery, Decadence Bakery & Pastries in Normal, IL in August 2008.


Honor your parents

2 years later, I turned off the ovens for the final time and closed Decadence.  My mother suffered a stroke that relegated her to a nursing home for the next 6 years, 7 months and 1 day of her life. Through every twist and turn, I kept my promise to be by her side until her final breath.  After she passed, I started preparing my longtime home for sale. If nothing else just to see where the Lord was leading me next.

God sold my house in 9 days!  I closed on a Friday and boarded a plane on Saturday!  And that is where my love story with North Carolina begins!