Pastry Chef Brittney Harris Toumala ’10, A Sweet Affair
CIA Alumni Bio
What is your favorite dish to create?
I enjoy making petits gateaux. They may look simple and elegant on the outside, but under that glistening glaze, there are layers upon layers of different flavors and textures. The options are endless!
Describe a day in your life at your job/business.
A typical day starts at 4 a.m. I spend the first 5-6 hours prepping and finishing the nearly 25-30 different items in the patisserie (alone). The shop opens at 10 a.m., and from then on, I juggle helping customers, running the register, prepping dessert components, and working on completing special orders. The shop closes at 4 p.m., when I can usually then clean up and go home to my two kids. During busy weeks in wedding season, I can sometimes work up to 18 hours a day, even 7 days a week.
Tell us about a few highlights of your career.
Creativity is a big plus. Designing new desserts/cakes is always fun. There is also no end to the learning part of baking and pastry. New techniques, new flavors, new products. It’s never boring and always something new! And there are so many influential chefs out there that inspire us everyday with their work. Teaching us with tutorials, cookbooks, recipes, pictures. This industry is amazing.
Do you have any advice for future or current CIA students?
Stay positive and be patient. There will come a time when a chef notices your hard work and determination and sees your potential. You’ll be given opportunities to shine and succeed.
What’s your best memory at the CIA?
I can’t choose just one. There were several times when a chef would pick on me, giving me more work, telling me to come in early or stay late. At first I think “What am I doing wrong?”, then I realize that the chef is picking on me because he/she knows I can do it, that I can handle it. And it made me believe in myself more, that I could do any task handed to me.
Chef Brittney Harris Toumala majored in baking and pastry arts management at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. She is the chef/owner of A Sweet Affair in Fort Bragg, CA.