June 01, 2022 7 min read
Emilia Tomaszycki was born and raised in a small country town called Richmond, Michigan. She was accustomed to the bare basics, including only a couple channels to watch television, her siblings and the outdoors to entertain, and the nearest grocery store was 20 minutes away. At the age of 13, Emilia signed up for a basic cake decorating class at Joanne Fabrics and fell in love with the art right away.
When she was 15, she got her first job as a cake decorator in the neighboring town of Armada. She didn’t really learn how to bake until she attended culinary school at the Culinary Institute of Michigan after she graduated high school. Emilia realized once she graduated with her Associate in Baking and Pastry that the list of job opportunities was endless! She then went on to work at some of the top hotels and country clubs in the nation including the Detroit Athletic Club, Oakland Hills Country Club, The Ritz Carlton Naples, Ritz Carlton Dallas, and The Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch.
After gaining over 10 years of experience, Emilia finally accepted the position of Executive Pastry Chef at the renowned Bonita Bay Club in Bonita Springs, Florida. When she started here, Bonita Bay Club was twenty seventh for 2021’s list of top Club and Resorts in the country. Within her first year, she assisted in bringing the club up to the fifth spot for 2022.
The American Culinary Federation has played a huge part in Emilia’s success recently. After attending the American Culinary Federation (ACF) National convention in Orlando in 2021, Emilia was motivated and inspired by her mentor, Chef Frank Vollkommer, CMPC, to begin her journey to become a Certified Executive Pastry Chef (CEPC). After several months, waking up at 3am to have the kitchen all to herself for practices, many practice runs, rewriting the menu countless times, Emilia successfully passed the written and practical exam for her CEPC.After achieving this major milestone at the age of 24, Emilia went on to win the Pastry Chef of the Year award from her local ACF chapter in Naples, FL. The support from her family, friends, and employees have helped her and continue to motivate her to become the best she can be.
Q1: You said that the ACF has played a huge part in your success, in fact, you helped rebuild the Certified Pastry Culinarian exams back in 2019. Could you tell us a bit more about The American Culinary Federation? What do the written and practical exams usually entail and what does becoming a CEPC mean to you?
A: The ACF essentially helped me to motivate myself to continue practicing and perfecting my skills. Every national convention I’ve attended, I’ve walked away with this raw desire and motivation to grow and be the best that I can. Going to chapter meetings gives you the opportunity to connect with other local chefs and just relate and help others. I love catching up with my friends at each monthly meeting!
The written exams are 100 questions and consist of everything from food costing to technical questions, to sanitation. You really have to know your craft and study for these exams. The CEPC practical exam is a 4-hour long time frame in which case you must provide 1 celebration cake with Italian buttercream, 1 ganache enrobed cake, 3 dozen yeast leavened rolls with 3 different make ups, 4 portions of a plated dessert which must contain a hot and cold item. It’s a fairly easy exam but practice is key to get your timing down. Once you have practiced a few times, it almost feels like a dance. I used to get up at 3am to come to the kitchen before everyone got there to do full 4 hour run throughs.
I am the youngest person to ever take and pass the CEPC exam so that was a huge accomplishment for me. I wanted to prove to myself and others that this is what I’m capable of and why I deserve this title.
Q2: It seems like you’ve always wanted to become a pastry chef. From age 11 you were baking as an entrepreneur making cupcakes for graduation parties and at 16 you were the head cake decorator at a bakery.
What did you take away from essentially running a business at such a young age? What or who drove your passion for baking and inspired you to sign up for your first cake decorating class? Did you have any chefs you’ve followed since you were first introduced to the world of pastry?
A: I am very fortunate to have known what I wanted to do from a young age. I didn’t know how far this would have taken me, but I am very proud of my 16-year-old self for running that operation. I wish I would have paid closer attention to the financial aspects of things. I also learned early on how I would want things done when I have my own team.
I’ve always been crafty and when I heard my friend was taking a cake decorating course, I immediately wanted to tag along. It’s so crazy how quickly I fell in love with the art. I’ve always done my own thing while admiring other chefs and their work. So no, I haven’t followed anyone as I love flying solo and reaching out for help or advice from my mentors.
Q3: You are currently the Executive Pastry Chef at Bonita Bay Club. Could you tell us a bit more about the club and what you do? What was your focus coming in to help accelerate the club from being ranked 27th to 5th as one of the Top Clubs and Resorts in the country?
Was your goal always to return to a club after your blindsided Executive Pastry Chef experience as the only pastry chef at the 900-person club in Florida right after graduating?
A: Bonita Bay Club is a 4,000-member club located in Bonita Springs, FL. We take pride in our 5 golf courses and the wide variety of sport facilities we have to offer. Our club is highly sought after, and it sometimes takes years to become a member.
My job consists of menu writing, training my employees, food costing, creating production prep lists, writing the schedule for my employees, creating eye opening buffets, cakes, recipe development, and so much more! When I started here, my goal wasn’t to get a better ranking on the list. My goal was to lay a sturdy foundation for this brand-new pastry department, which included ordering materials, writing recipes, organizing storage space, hiring staff, and overall creating proper standards at that time.
I didn’t see myself returning to clubs too soon. Sometimes life throws curveballs at you, and you run with it! The position was open, and I took a leap of faith. I’ve learned so much since my first pastry chef experience. I’ve especially learned what NOT to do! We learn by making mistakes and I’ve definitely made my fair share of mistakes.
Q4: You represented Oregon in the Flavored Nations Food Festival in 2019. Could you tell us about that experience? You competed in Chopped Sweets: Dangerous Decadence S2 E7 back in 202. Have you started incorporating jackfruit, huitlacoche, and cassava into pastries at the Bonita Bay Club?
A: Flavored Nations is such a unique and exciting event! Chefs from all 50 states get together to create dishes that best represent their home. There is such a wide variety of foods and the people can vote for the best dish. I was asked to represent Oregon since no one had signed up from that state. I created a marionberry pie with streusel, berry pie filling, and whipped cream! My dessert was voted the second-best dish out of 50 states!
Since competing on Food Network’s Chopped Sweets, I have not incorporated much of the ingredients into my desserts. Especially not the tarantulas! I learned a lot about competing as that was my very first time as well as my first ever appearance on TV!
Q5: You were voted the ACF Pastry Chef/Baker of the Year in 2021 for someone who has already achieved so much at such a young age, what’s next for you?
Do you plan to return to competitions anytime soon, do you feel like you have a lot left to do or accomplish, is the Coupe du Monde looming in the back of your mind?
A: After winning that award, I want to practice presenting and doing more demos. I’m working on conquering my nerves and speaking clearly. Public speaking doesn’t come naturally so just like any new hobby, I have to practice this. I also aspire to become a Certified Master Pastry Chef! I have to have 10 years’ experience in a management position to be able to apply for that exam.
So, more practicing! People have also been encouraging me to try out for the Pastry Chef of the Year at the ACF National convention held every year. I’d be monitored by an abundance of people, so I have to practicing being observed which is where the presentation practice plays in. recently, I was asked if I was interested in the World Culinary Olympics but I don’t think I’m quite there yet. One day for sure.
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To see more work from Emilia be sure to visit her page on Instagram @emiliat_cepc. Learn more about the incredible work that the ACF (American Culinary Federation) does for chefs all around North America by visiting the ACF Website.
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