Monique Washirapunya, baker, chef, and owner of Gateau Monique Bakery, was the featured speaker at the Baking and Pastry Arts Toque Day ceremony on Friday, May 8, 2015.
Students, families, faculty, and staff commemorated the students’ successful completion of classroom work and celebrated the honor of accepting the “toque” (chef hat) for the first time.
Washirapunya, a 1999 graduate of the IUP Academy of Culinary Arts, discussed the importance of being passionate about one’s career and how the chef instructors at IUP prepared her for working in the industry. “From the first day and the first minute, the chef instructors encouraged professionalism, being punctual, being prepared.”
Taking her chef instructors’ advice to heart, Washirapunya developed her culinary career, holding positions at the AAA Four-Diamond awarded Kingsmill Resort, L’Auberge Provencale, a AAA Four-Diamond awarded bed and breakfast, and Antrim 1844, an acclaimed Maryland restaurant, before starting her home-based cake business. Now, five years later, Gateau Monique has expanded to include wholesale desserts and a storefront location.
Washirapunya earned her bachelor degree in Business and Economics from McDaniel College in 2008 and has recently become a member of the Adams County Arts Council, where she teaches baking and pastry classes.
Her advice to the students in the audience: “Take everything in that you possibly can. Enjoy what you do. Be passionate. Learn. Grow. Keep learning.”