Posts Tagged ‘cream cheese pound cake’

Chef Spotlight: Pastry Chef Jessica Ashley

[slideshow]I consider myself to be quite the food connoisseur, and I recognize talent when I see it. If I were a chef talent scout (I’m sure those exist), I would definitely be recruiting Jessica Ashley to join my team. She’s young, ambitious and doing her thing! Her talent is undeniable.  In just 3 years after graduating from culinary school, she has baked custom cakes for MTV and celebrity events, and worked as a production chef on the kids cooking TV show Junior Cuisine. In the midst of all of this, she has also been running her own cake business, baking specialized cakes for weddings and special events.

During her college internship with Kraft, Jessica instantly knew that she wanted to be a chef when she visited to the Culinary Institute for Education.  This life-changing “aha” moment led her to apply for culinary school at Kendall College in Chicago after finishing her undergraduate degree. She kept her application a secret until she applied, because she “just knew” that this is what she wanted to do, and there was no stopping her.

The level of creativity and skill is instantly apparent in Jessica’s cakes. They look like the kinds of cakes that you see on shows like “Cake Boss” and “Ace of Cakes”.

Her specialty? The Cream Cheese Pound Cake. This recipe from her great aunt has been in her family for years. In addition to her decadent cakes, she also bakes vegan and dairy-free cakes, and she’s been experimenting with sugar-free dessert offerings for those with diabetes.

Jessica has observed that people aren’t buying the grocery store sheet cakes as much anymore because they are opting for decorative cakes to serve as a trendy centerpiece. Just when she thought that cupcakes were on their way out, they are quite popular, even in weddings.  Some of her clients have requested cupcake towers vs. traditional tier cakes to avoid the “cutting fee” that many banquet facilities charge when using an outside cake vendor.  Cupcakes also allow wedding guests to grab a cupcake and go, and they offer flexibility with providing an assortment of flavors.

What’s next for Jessica? She’s working on offering after school cooking classes for kids centering around nutrition, baking with healthy ingredients, and decorating. She will also continue to host private events, and plans to travel more with her business. Her next trip is scheduled in New York, where she will be baking for a corporate launch party event.

Jessica inspires me because she is truly living out her passion and purpose, and success has followed her along the way.  I see big things for her future. One of her goals is to compete in a Food Network competition, so keep your eyes open!  With her passion and drive, you just might see her on TV!  Hopefully her story inspires you as much as she inspires me.

Jessica’s Baking Tips for Home Chefs:

  • Instead of sticking a knife or toothpick in your cakes/cupcakes to check for doneness, gently press the top of the cake to see if it springs back. If it springs back, its done.
  • If you start baking, make sure all of your dairy items are room temperature.
  • Bring eggs to room temperature before baking. If you don’t have the time, place eggs in warm water to bring to room temperature faster.
To learn more about Jessica Ashley, visit her website at  http://www.jacakes.com.