A uniquely culinary homecoming by alumna Krista Gaston ’11 wowed
IUP Baking and Pastry students in October 2014.
Currently a demi pastry chef at Bistro, the fine dining restaurant on
the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., Gaston graduated from the culinary and baking programs at IUP in 2011.
After completing a baking externship at the Biltmore, Gaston was offered a permanent position as a cook 2 in Cedric’s Tavern. She was then promoted first to the position of demi chef at Deerpark,
the buffet/banquet venue on the estate, and most recently to the demi pastry chef position at Bistro.
Gaston returned to the Academy of
Culinary Arts in October to share her cake decorating expertise with IUP baking and pastry students. Over a span of eight hours,
the students watched
her assemble and decorate an exquisite multi-tiered wedding cake.
Her elegant autumn-themed cake design featured a carved
pumpkin layer, buttercream and fondant icing, and gum paste leaves airbrushed
in striking fall colors.
Using a wide array of specialty tools, Chef Gaston demonstrated
the carving of the pumpkin layer and application of the buttercream crumb coat
and finish layer of fondant icing on the cake.
Students were impressed by Gaston’s attention to detail on
everything from the air temperature in the kitchen to the number of tools and
techniques used to complete the cake design.
Most students had previously only seen a specialty cake this
elaborate assembled on a television food show (their wedding cake course began
after Chef Gaston’s visit). They agree that “seeing the cake created on
television was not nearly the same as seeing a chef create the cake in person."
Students reported that watching
Gaston’s demonstration put into perspective how important time management is in the
life of a successful pastry chef and how much real work the television shows leave
It was an enjoyable evening for all with many culinary tips, memories of favorite chef instructors, and stories of near catastrophes in the kitchen shared by chef and students alike.