Baking & Pastry
My education prepared me to stay focused and take pride in everything I do. I always wanted to be the best in my class, and that level of drive has gotten me to where I am today. Bri Maxeiner , Pastry Chef Diploma in Baking & Pastry, 2011 , The Art Institute of California—Orange County, a campus of Argosy University
Bri Maxeiner is a pastry chef at The Ritz-Carton on St. Thomas, in the British Virgin Islands. She’s responsible for managing the pastry department and all operations for the pastry team. Bri also oversees the production of breads and desserts for the buffets, weddings, and holiday banquets held on the property. Before joining the Ritz-Carlton, Bri was the general manager of a celebrity-focused boutique studio in Brooklyn and New York City.
She says that moving from New York City to St. Thomas was a big challenge—the conditions were far different when it came to baking. “Dealing with humidity and heat with pastry is not just challenging, it’s nearly impossible,” she states. “Learning to change recipes and techniques because of the environment was a huge learning curve for me. Adapting to a whole different atmosphere was also just exhausting. I built a great team to help me solve my problems and to work together through them built us into such a close relationship. My team is my work family.”
Because the culinary industry is so demanding, Bri recommends that current students understand the level of commitment needed to succeed. “But, if you love it then it will be worth it. I have days that I think I should have picked a different career path, but when I think about what I would do, I always come back to the kitchen. Some days feel like I get paid to play all day. I love cooking and when we are testing new recipes and turning our imagination into reality, it is so rewarding.”
With a long list of upcoming functions, Bri must be detail-oriented and plan out production needs. “We keep a running list of all items that need to be produced for an ongoing, 200+ recipe organization,” she says. The company she works for has recognized her efforts—and she says she’s earned respect from coworkers because of her work ethic. The property’s PR manager even wrote an article about new desserts that Bri’s team created, which was picked up by the local news. Bri is also a believer in teamwork and its importance within the kitchen. “Our holiday buffets and our new menus are always a collaborative effort. Getting everyone’s opinions or input is important to me, because at the end of the day I can't run it all by myself.”
Bri, who in 2011 earned a Baking & Pastry Diploma from The Art Institute of California—Orange County, says that her education provided the focus she needed. “I always wanted to be the best in my class, and that level of drive has gotten me to where I am today.” She adds that she continues to challenge herself to grow as a professional. “I have never been one to be complacent in a role, even when I reach the top. There's always higher to go, there's always more to learn, there's always something new to try.”
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