About Chef Maria

A Pastry Chef in the Making

Like so many aspiring pastry chefs, Chef Maria's road to a professional pastry career began as a small child in her mother's kitchen.  From the time she was old enough to pull a stool up to the counter, Chef Maria took delight in learning the art of creating edible expressions of love.  And while she dreamed of becoming a pastry chef long before the Food Network aired, she ultimately took a more traditional route that included a business degree and an IT-related career. 


chef maria at graduation

Baking Competition

With a little help from God, a friendly baking rivalry at her weekly Bible study reminded Chef Maria of her early passion and the joy she experienced in the kitchen with her mother.  After a nearly 20 year career, she left the security of her full-time job to enroll in Chicago's prestigious The French Pastry School.

Passion for Pastry In Action

Happily enduring four-to-six hour train commutes five days a week (224 in total!) for six months and a rigorous curriculum, Chef Maria earned her L'Art de la Pâtisserie certificate and launched Decadence Bakery and Pastries as a storefront in Normal, IL.  Two years into her successful venture, Chef Maria closed the bakery in order to care for her mother after a stroke.  Chef Maria promised her mother that she wouldn't abandon her in the nursing home.  She kept that promise for the next six years, seven months and one day of her mother's life. 


headshot of chef maria

Honor Your Parents

It was during this period that Chef Maria reintroduced her company as Beyond Decadence, first in Illinois and then bringing the business with her when she moved to North Carolina after her mother passed. In North Carolina, Chef Maria started Beyond Decadence as a pop-up bakery, transitioned to dessert catering, then focused on providing local delivery and nationwide shipping.

The pandemic fueled Beyond Decadence's most notable pivot of offering virtual and on-site baking experiences, speaking engagements, and continuing education.  

Speaking and teaching has allowed her passion for pastry to grow even more.  Chef Maria is active on social media, gives back to her community through random acts of kindness, shares tips and tricks during live television demos on Charlotte's WBTV3 and FOX 46, and the recipient of several awards and recognition. 

Chef Maria's new website redesign is courtesy of a generous donation from "The Profit's" Marcus Lemonis.